Google Colab vs Jupyter Notebook: Compare Data Science Software


Find out if Jupyter Notebook or Google Colab would be a better fit for your data science needs in this in-depth feature comparison.

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Creating and organizing computational documents is an essential part of programming and data science. Most people turn to one of two popular tools – Jupyter Notebook and Google Colab – to help them manage their files.

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What is Jupyter Notebook?

Jupyter is a free, open-source, web-based interactive computing platform derived from IPython. Jupyter Notebook is a web application that allows users to create and share calculation documents with each other.

What is Google Colab?

Google Colaboratory is a freemium tool offered by Google Research that allows users to write and run Python code in their web browsers. Colab is actually based on open source Jupyter and basically lets you create and share compute files without having to download or install anything.

Jupyter Notebook vs Google Colab: Feature Comparison

Feature Jupyter Notebook Colab Google
Cloud-based Nope Yes
File synchronization Nope Yes
File sharing Nope Yes
Installing the library Yes Nope
View files without installation Nope Yes

Direct comparison: Jupyter Notebook and Google Colab


The main differentiator of Google Colab compared to Jupyter Notebook is that it is cloud-based and Jupyter is not. This means that if you’re working in Google Collab, you don’t have to worry about downloading and installing anything on your hardware. It also means you can rest easy knowing that your work will be automatically saved and backed up to the cloud without you having to do anything.

Google Colab is great for people who need to work on multiple devices, like a home and work computer, or a laptop and a tablet, because it syncs seamlessly across all devices.

In contrast, Jupyter Notebook runs on your local computer and files are saved to your hard drive. Jupyter offers an automatic save interval (which you can change) but it doesn’t back up to a cloud, so if something happens to your machine, you’re out of luck. Jupyter cannot sync or share your files across devices without a third-party file sharing service such as DropBox or GitHub.


We couldn’t talk about Jupyter Notebook vs. Google Colab without mentioning collaboration. As the name suggests, Google Colab is designed to make it easy to share your notebooks with anyone, even if they’re not a data scientist. Other people can see your laptop without having to download any software, which is a big plus if you regularly work with non-techies who need to be able to see files.

On the other hand, anyone else will need to have Jupyter Notebook installed on their device if you want to share their notebooks with them. This won’t be a barrier if you’re only working with developers, data scientists, and other technical people who will already have Jupyter installed, but if you’re working in a more diverse team, you might want to consider Google Colab as it makes it easier things. to share files.

Installing the library

Since Google Colab is cloud-based, it comes pre-installed with just about every library you might need in the cloud. This means you don’t have to part with valuable disk space or time to download libraries manually. The free version also comes with a certain level of GPU, memory, and runtime, which may fluctuate. If you need more capacity, you can upgrade to one of the paid plans. Google does not disclose any limits for any of its Colab plans due to the need for flexibility.

With Jupyter Notebook, you’ll need to install each library you want to use on your device using pip or another package manager. You will also be limited by the RAM, disk space, GPU and CPU available on your computer. That being said, having the laptops stored on your hardware rather than hosted in a third-party cloud is more secure, so manually installing the library may actually be a plus for more sensitive data.

Choosing between Jupyter Notebook and Google Colab

Jupyter Notebook and Google Colab may be the right choice in particular circumstances. Google Colab is a great choice for the beginner developer or the non-programmer who wants to get started quickly without installing anything. It’s also a great idea for anyone who needs to share notebook files with people who don’t have the appropriate software installed on their devices. Finally, Google Colab is a must-have for anyone looking to back up their work to the cloud and sync their laptops across multiple devices, but the ease of cloud sharing means reduced data security.

Meanwhile, Jupyter is a better choice for sensitive files that need to be kept out of the cloud. Installing the laptops on your own hardware also means you never have to worry about throttling your GPU or your runtimes, which can sometimes happen on free Colab accounts.


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