As my solopreneur journey continues, I’m working on several projects and side hustles at any one point in time. Trying to keep everything from becoming a complete mess has been difficult and Notion has really helped structure my workflow. Along with being a great note-taking and personal dashboard app, Notion has also become my file cloud system as well.
With that said, let’s dive in and take a look at how it stakes up against its competitors. I’ll then go through an example of how you can set up an easily accessible database template for your files.
Notion vs Dropbox vs Google Drive For Storage
In this comparison, I’ll look at the free version of each platform. The pricing scales and limits are quite different so I don’t think it’s a fair comparison at that point (and I haven’t paid for any of them! 🤪).
I (loosely) follow the PARA method and have a database in the “Resources” section where I store my files. I’ve set this all up in a table (I’ll go into this in a bit more detail in the next section), but this has been a game-changer for me. This is why:
- Ability to tag and summarize contents of a file (THE BEST FUNCTION – period.)
- Easy to share files/pages with other users in the Notion environment
- The search function is quick
- Easy to capture files and set them
One downside to using Notion for file storage is the file size cap on the free version. You can upload as many files as you like for free users, but it’s capped at 5 MB per file. If you’re a Personal Pro subscriber, you have unlimited access.
A couple of other cons of Notion are that there’s no true offline mode and that there’s no sync option on your computer like Dropbox and Google Drive.
Related article – Can Notion Be Accessed Offline?
Dropbox – the original cloud storage platform. I’ll couple my thoughts with Dropbox Paper. Dropbox Paper is their collaborative document platform where you can easily import and include files from the storage component.
I found Dropbox Paper a bit too simplistic for my needs, but if you’re looking for a good collaborative document editor then it does the job. In terms of sharing notes, it’s a seamless process as well.
Where Dropbox shines is the integration with major third-party software like the Office suite, Google Workspace, Zoom, Slack, etc.
What I don’t like about Dropbox is that it only provides free users with a 2GB file storage limit. This really isn’t that much these days and they rely on the “freemium” model.
Ultimately, I still view Dropbox like how it was originally intended, as a cloud storage platform. It does this job well though. If you’re looking for just additional data storage without any of the bells and whistles in Notion then Dropbox or Google is likely the way to go.
The Google universe is huge now. It has quite a few productivity, collaboration, and cloud computing tools under the Google banner. Again, my thoughts are based on the Google ecosystem as a whole instead of just the Google Drive cloud storage platform.
Google Drive alone is already a great free cloud storage application. Mix it in with Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Sheets it’s like having a basic office computer all in your browser. Everything works seamlessly and I would say Google Docs / Sheets is now on par with Word and Excel.
Google provides free users a 15GB file storage limit across Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos. That’s plenty of space and I’m yet to use it up after 10+ years of Google docs / Gmail use (I had always just stored my larger files on my laptop drive).
For me, the clear winner is Notion. However, I do acknowledge this is down to personal preference and depends on how you use the tools.
I like having my notetaking, dashboard, weekly agenda, and file storage application all in one place, so I choose Notion as my primary “file storage” solution. That being said, I do still use my Google Drive for certain things.
A close second is Google Drive (and its associated ecosystem). Finally, hands down Google Drive trumps Dropbox.
Related article – Blog Content Creation Template For Notion
How To Easily Set Up A File Storage Database In Notion
If you’re still interested in using Notion as your file storage of choice, then keep reading. I’ll walk you through how I organize my files. As always in Notion, feel free to start with this “template” but tinker with it until it fits your style.
Starting With A Blank Database
Add an inline database to a new page. Add some properties to help sort your files. Here are some of the tags I use:
- Name – if you name your files properly you won’t need this column
- File type – PDF, .xlsx, .docx etc
- Summary / Keywords – a few keywords or a one-liner to help me find this file quickly
- Topic – This links to my Areas. For example digital marketing, trading, fitness, etc
- Date – I log the date I first put this into Notion, this helps with archiving old files and just keeping the database tidy
- Source / URL – Self-explanatory!
I also have a bunch of Relation links that are helpful for referencing these files in my specific “Areas”.
Uploading files to Notion is as simple as dragging and dropping them into the database table. If you have named your files properly, then the “Name” field will be automatically populated.
Viewing Your File
To view your files, click on Open on the database entry and then click on the file name. This will need to download to your local computer before you can access it with the appropriate software.
Note – while you’re on the page, you can also add some additional commentary or screenshots to provide a long-form summary of the file as well.
Interesting read – Auto Change Tag Based On Another Notion Database Property
Is Notion Storage Secure?
I’m not a cybersecurity expert but I understand Notion utilizes industry-standard encryption on their servers. Just be conscious of uploading your private and confidential documents to Notion – all big companies are subject to data breaches! I talk about it in a bit more depth in the article How To Lock Notion.
Thanks for reading and I hope you found this helpful!
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