Gmail and Outlook are some of the most popular web-based email providers. Both offer a freemium model where users can use the email service without paying. The two have various unique features to enhance user experience. Both offer free storage space for users. Gmail offers 15 GB free cloud storage (Google Drive) while Outlook has 5 GB free storage (One Drive). Users can save their digital files such as photos, documents, music, videos, etc. The storage space is integrated with the email service. That means the users of both services can access their digital media files and share them with other users. Both email services allow users to add contacts to their email list. The two have implemented encryption and a two-factor authentication scheme to reduce hacking. Gmail and the recent version of Outlook support IMPA. Gmail sorts emails under the labels of inbox, promotion, updates, and social. On the other hand, Outlook provides Clutter, a tool for sorting low-priority emails. Additionally, the two email services are integrated with calendars which allow users to set events and get reminders.
Outlook users a folder system which serves as the file system for emails (Peter 2010). Users can drag and drop emails into the web interface. They can also assign categories to the emails which can are visible on the side panel. Gmail uses labels to nest the emails in a similar way. Instead of using sub-folders, Gmail uses an information hierarchy which is expanded and minimizes with a mouse click. In Outlook, users have to organize folders inside the main inbox folder (Boyce 2010). While a subfolder in outlook can be called ‘Friends Messages,' is labeled as ‘Inbox’ in Gmail.
Outlook allows users to connect to Skype, Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Gmail account allows users to connect only to Google services. It doesn’t support many social media platforms. Hotmail allows users to view, edit, and save files via its cloud-based Microsoft Office tools such as MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Gmail doesn’t support MS Office but has its own Google Docs system (Long 2010). Users have to install extra plugins to access it from their account.
In Outlook, a colored flag is used to mark an email message as important. Gmail uses a star to highlight the importance of an email message (Aberdeen 2010). Outlook’s flag system allows users to attach a reminder while Gmail stars do not. In Outlook, users have to move unwanted e-mails to the junk folder manually. Gmail automatically undesired e-mails that are labeled as ‘Spam.' Undesired emails that are not filtered can be moved to the spam folder by clicking the spam label.
Each email service displays the message page differently. Gmail displays a pop-up tab that is used to write and send e-mail messages (Grevet 2014). Other email messages remain visible while the pop-up tab is displayed. A thread of reply messages is displayed above the message that a user creates. If the messages are many, horizontal lines are stacked between the first and last message to show that there are more messages within the message thread. When a user is writing a new email message, the Gmail features are visible. In Outlook, email features are hidden as a large window is displayed to compose an email message which allows users to view threat content without scrolling much.
Gmail accounts are blocked after nine months of continuous activity. In case of twelve months of continuous account, the account is permanently deleted. In outlook, accounts expire after nine months of continuous inactivity. Gmail users can send money to other people as Google Wallet is integrated into Gmail (Schillace 2010). Outlook has no service for sending money via its accounts. Regarding cryptographic protocols, Outlook supports only SSL while Gmail supports TLS and SSL.
Cloud file storage
Dropbox and Google Drive are some of the most popular cloud file storage services. They both offer a freemium storage package which provides users with limited free storage. Users can also pay for storage packages whose prices vary based on the storage space. The two have common features such as folder syncing, events tracking, version history for undoing changes, and sharing permissions that allow users to share files with others.
The two services have desktop clients that allow users to sync their files to the cloud. In the Dropbox desktop client, files can be dragged and dropped into the Dropbox folder. Users can open files in a desktop client with their preferred application, i.e. power point documents can be viewed with MS PowerPoint. The Dropbox web client also allows users to open documents. Both web and desktop clients have search features for searching files or folders (Quick 2014).
Google Drive has a desktop client that functions similarly to the Dropbox, desktop client. The files on the client can be viewed via Google Docs software. Users that want to open a document in MS Excel have to export the file from Google Docs. Google Drive web client provides a built-in suite of cloud applications that allow users to edit document, photos, presentations, and spreadsheets without the need of downloading the files to a local hard drive. It also provides a powerful search tool that not only searches for text and file names but also incorporates optical character recognition to search scanned documents and search photos.
Dropbox is available on various platforms such as Linux, Android, Mac, Windows, and iOS. It supports various file types such as Apple iWork, Microsoft Office, video, image, and audio files. Google Drive is also available on Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android. It allows third-party developers to create applications that integrate with Google Drive. It supports a wide range of file types including vector graphic files, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, AutoCad, and audio, image, and video files. Any file type stored on Dropbox and Google Drive can be opened without downloading it and viewing it with native programs.
When users upload files, the file type is not an issue, but they can only view files supported by the service. Google drive supports more file types than Dropbox. Google Drive users can view files such as Photoshop and Illustrator files even without having those programs installed on their computers as they can edit them online. Microsoft files such as word documents are made compatible with Google Docs system before they can be edited (Hamburger 2012). On the other hand, Dropbox lacks support for any file type. Users have to download the files to their computer as none can be opened while online. This implies that users must have a native program to open the file sent.
While the two offer a particular amount of free storage space, they have varying prices for additional storage that users have to purchase. Google Driver offers users 15 GB free storage space while Dropbox offers 2 GB of storage. Google Drive prices start at $2.49 for 25 GB whole Dropbox starts at $9.99 for 50 GB. Overall, Google Drive provides more storage space at lower prices than Dropbox.
Google Drive and Dropbox have different ways of implementing version control which allows users to retrieve old files or older filer versions. In Google Drive, version control is handled by storing about 100 revisions of a document which are counted as part of the total storage allowance. The trash folder stores files that a user deletes. If files in the trash folder are deleted, they cannot be recovered as they are gone forever. Dropbox stores unlimited versions of a file for a month and does not include it as part of the storage space that users are allocated (Drago 2012).
Sharing features are a key aspect of Google Drive and Dropbox. The difference between the two is that the Dropbox allows users to share files from the desktop client while Google Drive allows users to only share files via the web client (Quick, 2013). In Google Drive, users share files with an email and restrictions are set to limit individuals who can access and edit the file. Dropbox provides users two ways to share a file. One option to share the file with a link and the other is shared with an email. When reviewing the sharing features offered by the two services, it is essential to consider their compatibility features. Google Drive offers support to Windows and Mac users. On the other hand, Dropbox supports many platforms including earlier versions of Windows, Mac OS, and Linux (Barret 2011).
Social Media as collaboration and communication tool
Social media has revolutionized the way many people in the world communicate and interact with others. The emergence of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook changed how we engage other people. These platforms have not only changed communication among people but also within organizations. Many organizations are leveraging social media tools to enhance collaboration and communication in the workplace (Edosomwan 2011). LinkedIn is one of the most recommended social media platforms among professionals. The site is business-oriented and focuses on helping professionals to network with others. It has robust features that allow users to find and connect with clients and colleagues (Skeels 2009). Users can connect with contacts they know to make them a part of their professional network. LinkedIn has features that allow users to create and join groups. Employees can leverage these features to create workplace groups which can be effective in enhancing communication and collaboration.
Facebook is another popular social media site that can be used to allow employees in a workplace to communicate with each other. The site offers various features that can facilitate employee communication. Some of the features it offers include group chat and groups. Employees can create closed Facebook groups which staff members can join and engage in discussions. The groups create privacy and can support each employee to express his/her opinion. Also, Facebook chat or messenger can be effective in facilitating communication and collaboration as it provides features that allow users to call, text, and send file attachments (Burrus 2010). It can be a great way of collaborating on a particular project. Twitter doesn’t have many features but can still be effective in promoting communication. The platform has a messaging feature where several users can communicate hence can support group discussions and brainstorming sessions. Additionally, it supports hashtag feature which can allow staff members to engage with each other about a particular issue.
Social media policy is essential in organizations where employees are allowed to use social media platforms for personal or corporate use. The policy provides guidelines on the expected employee conduct when using social media. It outlines acceptable use of social media in the workplace as well as the liability of staff members. With such a policy, organizations can promote professionalism in social media use as well as safeguard company reputation by restraining employees’ behavior in social media.
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