Find out if Jupyter Notebook or Google Colab would be better for your data science needs in this in-depth feature comparison.
Creating and organizing calculation 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?
Jupiter 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 partnership is a freemium tool provided by Google Research that allows users to write and run Python code in their web browser. Colab is actually based on the open source Jupyter and essentially allows you to create and share calculation files without having to download or install anything.
Jupyter Notebook vs. Google Colab: Feature Comparison
|Feature||Jupyter notebook||Google Colab|
|File playback without installation||no||Yes|
Head-to-head comparison: Jupyter Notebook vs. Google Colab
The main difference between Google Colab and Jupyter Notebook is that it is cloud based and Jupyter is not. This means that if you work 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 is 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, such as one computer at home and one at work, or a laptop and a tablet, as it syncs seamlessly across devices.
In contrast, Jupyter Notebook runs on your local computer and stores files on your hard drive. Jupyter does offer an auto-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 can’t talk about Jupyter Notebook vs Google Colab without mentioning collaboration. As the name suggests, Google Colab is built to make it easy to share your notebooks with anyone, even if they aren’t a data scientist. Others can view your notebook without having to download software, which is a big advantage if you regularly work with non-techies who need to be able to view the files.
On the other hand, everyone must 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 working alone with developers, data scientists, and other tech folks who already have Jupyter installed, but if you’re working in a more diverse team, you might want to consider Google Colab, as it makes file sharing easier.
Since Google Colab is cloud-based, it comes pre-installed with just about any library you could need in the cloud. This means you don’t have to separate precious disk space or time to manually download the libraries. The free version also comes with a certain level of GPU, memory, and runtime, which can fluctuate. If you need more capacity, you can upgrade to one of the paid plans. Google is not disclosing limits for its Colab plans due to the need for flexibility.
With Jupyter Notebook, you need to install any library you want to use on your device with pip or another package manager. You are also limited by your computer’s available RAM, disk space, GPU, and CPU. That said, it’s safer to have the notebooks stored on your hardware rather than hosted in a third-party cloud, so the manual library installation can be a plus for more sensitive data.
Choosing between Jupyter Notebook and Google Colab
Both Jupyter Notebook and Google Colab may be the way to go in certain circumstances. Google Colab is an excellent choice for the novice developer or the non-programmer who wants to get started quickly without having to install anything. It’s also a great idea for anyone who wants to share notebook files with people who don’t have the right software installed on their devices. Finally, Google Colab is a must for anyone looking to back up their work to the cloud and sync their notebooks across multiple devices, but the convenience 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. Also, by installing the notebooks on your own hardware, you never have to worry about limiting your GPU or runtimes, which can sometimes happen on the free Colab accounts.