Although OneDrive has become quite mainstream, there still are people who do not utilize this Microsoft application to its fullest. When used correctly, Microsoft’s OneDrive allows you to share your files and folders with anyone in a single centralized location.
Like Google’s Google Drive and Apple’s iCloud, OneDrive offers businesses sufficient space in the cloud to store, edit, share, and use files effortlessly.
Consisting of dozens of exciting features and excellent platform support, OneDrive has become a leading cloud storage service. Its seamless integration with Microsoft 365 makes it one of the best in the industry.
That said, there are alternatives to OneDrive that may offer similar features and some add-ons that are missing in OneDrive. Google Drive, for instance, offers 15 GB of free storage and a simple interface, making it a tough competitor of Microsoft’s OneDrive.
In this detailed OneDrive guide, we will be sharing everything you should know about Microsoft’s storage service and how it outperforms Google Drive and other competitors. Let’s begin.
What is Microsoft OneDrive?
OneDrive is an online cloud storage service that offers 5 GB of free space for storing your documents, images, videos, and other files securely. The storage integrates with Windows 11 and works as the default storage space for all your work-related files.
You can access your OneDrive account on multiple devices, be it your desktop or smartphone. Files are also automatically synced across multiple devices, giving you smooth and quick access to your work stuff.
You might wonder why save your files in the cloud when you have enough storage space on your computer. Well, there’s a clear difference between saving your files locally and in the cloud. A file saved locally is always at risk of getting deleted accidentally. You might never be able to recover them unless you have a backup.
Files stored in OneDrive are saved in Microsoft’s servers. They can be accessed on your computer, smartphone, tablet, and just about any device where you have logged into your OneDrive account. Simply put, having OneDrive as your storage space comes with many perks, including:
If your system fails or the data from your device is erased, you won’t have to worry about your important work files getting permanently deleted.
Once you have created their backup in OneDrive, you can always access them unless they are deleted from OneDrive.
- Quick, Anywhere Access
Suppose you are going on a trip to Europe and you have all your files saved on the local computer in America. You can’t bring your workstation on the trip. That’s where OneDrive comes into the picture.
You can save your documents in the cloud and request quick access to your work stuff on just about any device in any location. All you need to do is sign into your OneDrive account and there you go!
- Supports Collaboration
Earlier when you had to share a file to have it checked and edited, you would have to share it via email and the recipient would suggest the changes and send the file back to you. That was super inconvenient as sending the file back and forth would consume a lot of time and require unnecessary hard work.
With OneDrive, you can share the file when working on it. You only need to send the link to the file to the recipients and they can access it in real time. Multiple people can access the same file simultaneously and work on it together to make the required edits. All changes are automatically saved in the cloud and synced on all devices.
- Enough Storage
The free 5GB might not look enough for businesses, but it’s often sufficient for individuals looking to store and sync a few media files. Businesses can upgrade the plan to a $1.99/month subscription, which increases your storage to 100 GB.
How Does OneDrive Work?
OneDrive integrates with Microsoft Office 365, enabling users to easily access Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other Office features in a single place. There’s no downloading needed if you are using Windows 11. It comes by default. All you need is a Microsoft account, and you will get a OneDrive account.
Enter your email and the password to log into your OneDrive and there you have it. Once you have created an account, you can use OneDrive as a backup storage for your files, for editing Word documents with your colleagues simultaneously, to share your files and folders across different departments in your organization, and for other work purposes.
You can save your files either in OneDrive alone or in your File Explorer and OneDrive. You will see a dashboard with all features organized neatly in the left panel.
From here, you can upload the files, check the recent files, and see the shared ones. Here’s an overview of different OneDrive features that can make your journey super smooth.
OneDrive is packed with a host of security and functional features that help you navigate the tool easily. Saving and syncing your work-related documents and presentations is a breeze when you know how to use OneDrive features. Let’s check out a few of them:
1. Syncing Multiple Devices
When you save your files in OneDrive, you aren’t saving them locally, but on Microsoft’s server. You can access these files anytime and anywhere, so long as you have the email and password to your OneDrive account.
You can automate the photos and file backup on OneDrive. That’s another exciting feature for those who want to have quick access to their photos, videos, and other special memories on all synced devices.
All photos from your camera roll will automatically upload on the OneDrive app, thus creating a backup of your files and allowing quick access.
2. Advanced Security
Microsoft has equipped OneDrive with enterprise-level security tools that offer encryption, multi-factor authentication, and compliance tools, all of which make your experience with OneDrive great.
In addition, the company maintains real-time monitoring to ensure that cyber threats do not go unnoticed. The system has a decent track record. There hasn’t been any case of security breach recorded in the last few years, making it an ideal choice for those concerned about the safety and privacy of their data.
3. Personal Vault
The personal vault on OneDrive adds an additional layer of security to your personal and confidential files. You can add your private stuff in this folder and rest assured that no one except you can view it.
You can’t share these folders accidentally, nor can anyone view them unless they clear the multi-factor authentication. To access your personal vault, you must enter the code sent to your email or mobile number. You can also secure it with an authenticator app.
OneDrive is a perfect backup for important files and folders saved locally. If you are concerned about the files getting deleted accidentally, OneDrive can help create a backup. For documents you have created within OneDrive, they are permanently saved.
Even if you delete them accidentally or are removed by one of your colleagues, you can find them in the recycle bin.
For those with personal OneDrive accounts, the deleted files remain active for up to 30 days before they are permanently deleted. If you have a business account, these files will remain in the recycle bin for 93 days.
Here’s how you can recover a deleted file/folder from a recycle bin.
- Sign into your OneDrive account
- In the left panel, click on Recycle Bin and choose the files you’d like to restore
- Select “Restore” to get your files restored on OneDrive.
You can manually delete the files and remove them from the recycle bin to have them deleted permanently.
How to Use OneDrive for Business?
Let’s understand the steps for sharing, editing, and performing other necessary actions on OneDrive.
1. Sending Files in OneDrive Via Email
- Choose the files, pictures, videos, presentations, and other documents you want to share and click on the “Share” button.
- Click on “Allow Editing” if you want the recipient to make changes to the document
- Choose Email and then type in the email address of the recipient/s with an optional message.
- Hit “Share”
The recipients will get an email message featuring the OneDrive document you have shared with them. Based on the permission setting, they can either view the file or edit it.
2. Sharing Files Through Links
- Sign into your OneDrive account and search for a file you’d like to share.
- Like in the previous step, you can Allow Editing or untick the editing box to set permission levels to your preference.
- Click on “Get a Link” and then “Copy”
- You can share the link on social media and email. Select “More” to find your available options.
In the same way, you can share the entire folder with anyone via email or link.
3. Manage Permission Settings
Let’s say your project has been over and now you no longer need people to view or edit the file anymore. Here’s how you can change permission settings for different users.
- Right next to the file, click on the three dots and select “Manage Access”.
- Select “Stop Sharing”
- Once you have removed the access, the user won’t be able to access the file anymore even if they have a link to it. They will get an “Access Denied” error every time they try to access the file.
It’s also important to manage permission settings for your shared file. Check them occasionally and change them as and when needed.
For instance, if you no longer want a user to edit the file, but you don’t want to deny access, you can change the permission to “Can View”. Likewise, you can change it to “Can Edit”, allowing the user to make changes to the document.
As you can see, you can share the documents directly via email or generate a link from the share option and send it to your friends and colleagues across social media platforms.
How Much Does OneDrive Cost?
As mentioned previously, if you have a Microsoft account, you already have a OneDrive and Outlook account. It offers a free plan that gives you up to 5 GB of free storage space, which is mostly sufficient for personal users. However, the storage might not be enough for business users.
There’s only one upgrade plan at $1.99 per month and $1.67 per month (billed annually). The plan extends your storage up to 100GB, which again might not be sufficient for business users.
So, your best bet is to buy a Microsoft 365 subscription. To get access to its Office Suite and additional storage, you can sign up for Microsoft 365 personal at $6.99 per month.
Those with Microsoft 365 subscriptions get access to additional features, like protection from ransomware, secure share links, and Microsoft Office programs in downloadable format.
On top of that, you get one terabyte of additional storage, which is adequate for businesses that store large files regularly on OneDrive. You can buy a OneDrive subscription separately or buy a Microsoft Office 365 plan, which includes OneDrive. Here’s what you get if you have Microsoft 365 + OneDrive.
- Password-protected documents: Links protected with a strong password (you can set a password for each file and folder you share with others). Only those having access to passwords can unlock the file.
- Set expiration period: For each shared file, you can set an expiration date to ensure that people can’t access the files beyond a specific period.
- Get an alert for a potential cybersecurity threat: Especially a ransomware attack. Recover the files you might have lost from such attacks.
- Restore data: You can restore the entire OneDrive data to a date within the last 30 days. If you have experienced a cyberattack or any glitch, restore your OneDrive to the previous version to retain all the data.
- Increased Storage: Get storage of 2 TB per user.
You can also decide which documents should be saved locally on your computers and which must go in the cloud, so you can use the OneDrive space efficiently.
Understanding Files On Demand
One of the best features of OneDrive, Files On Demand is designed to save space in your PC while allowing you to access all files stored in OneDrive quickly. The Files on Demand feature is enabled by default.
The feature keeps all files in cloud storage without automatically downloading them. This saves your hard disk space. You can choose which file or folder you’d like to store locally and download them manually. So, does that mean your files won’t show up in the File Explorer?
When you have the File on Demand feature active, all the files and folders you have saved in OneDrive will also appear in the File Explorer (given that you have completed the syncing process as mentioned above).
However, they won’t take up the space on your computer until you download them. Note that these files are only available online. If you want them to be saved permanently on your computer and available offline, you must download them.
Here’s what your file status means in OneDrive.
● Blue Cloud
Files with this icon means they are available for online use only. While they show up in your File Explorer, these files are not yet downloaded and do not take up any space on your PC.
To download them on your PC, you must open the file. Once downloaded, it will be available for editing and use offline.
● Locally Available
When you open the files with the blue cloud icon, they will be saved on your PC and marked as locally available. These files can be accessed with or without the internet.
Once the file is downloaded, it will take up space on your computer. Fortunately, you can free up your hard disk space by switching it to the online-only mode. Double-click the file or folder you’d like to make available online and select “Free Up Space”. There you go!
● Always Available
Files with a white checkmark and a green circle indicate the always available offline files. They’re permanently downloaded locally and are always available offline when you need them.
How Does OneDrive Compare with Google Drive and Dropbox?
OneDrive and Google Drive have the same functions, but both are different in terms of the user interface, pricing plans, storage space, and other factors.
You can find Google Drive pre-installed on your smartphones and tablets. OneDrive, however, is only available on Windows 11.
Generally, the deciding factor for most people would be their comfort. Google users might want to stick to Google Drive. Microsoft users who need access to Microsoft Suite within the cloud might prefer OneDrive.
It comes down to your individual preferences. Likewise, freelancers and teams that work remotely might use Dropbox for its modern encryption and easy-to-use interface. Let’s understand the key differences between the two.
If speed and syncing are your main concerns, OneDrive is a better choice. It follows the block-level copying technology where it identifies the recent changes to the file and uploads only the changes instead of reuploading the entire file, speeding up the syncing process.
Unlike OneDrive’s fast syncing process, Google Drive has the basic speed and the conventional syncing method. Dropbox allows you to share files up to 2TB and a 4K video, which is comparatively better than the 250GB file-size limit on OneDrive.
2. Free and Paid Storage
Google Drive shines here. With 15GB of free storage, you get plenty of cloud space to store all your files, media, and other documents flawlessly. It’s better compared to the 5GB of storage offered by OneDrive.
Google Drive also has clear pricing plans for those who need space beyond the free storage. You get up to 100 GB at $20/year and up to 2 TB for $100/year.
OneDrive offers 5 GB of free storage, which is three times less than Google Drive. That might suffice for individual users, but businesses must subscribe to their paid plans to increase the space.
There’s only one paid plan, which costs $1.99 per month and offers up to 100 GB of cloud storage. However, this doesn’t include the Microsoft suite. For that, you need to buy a Microsoft 365 plan.
Dropbox is not a suitable choice for businesses relying on free cloud storage. It offers 2 GB of free space, which is enough to store a couple of files for personal use. You must upgrade to the Plus plan at $9.99/month to get 2 TB of storage for individual users or a Family plan at $16.99/month for 6 users.
Both Google Drive and OneDrive are pretty good at maintaining user’s privacy. However, you’d want to go for the latter if you don’t want Microsoft to use your personal or business data for creating targeted ads.
Google creates personalized ads based on the data it collects, so it’s obvious that it will go through your Google Drive account to know your likes and preferences.
Microsoft might scan your OneDrive, but that’s only to prevent technical glitches. All your documents and media files saved in Dropbox are encrypted, but the company can access, view, and transmit data.
Like other cloud storage services, Dropbox ensures that no one except those you have granted access to your files can view or edit them.
4. Advanced Security
When you share files on OneDrive, you will be prompted to create a password and an expiration date, which increases the security of your documents. Just hit the Share button and you can send the file directly to the recipient via email and social media or create links. Google Drives lacks these options.
It does allow you to share your files and folders as easily as OneDrive, but you don’t get to set passwords or expiry dates.
Featuring advanced encryption standards and a sturdy architecture that protects your business data from all kinds of cyberattacks, Dropbox excels in offering premium security features. Like OneDrive, Dropbox allows you to password-protect your files before sharing.
5. Quick and Smooth Integration
Employees are more comfortable using Microsoft products for documents, excel, PowerPoint presentations, etc. OneDrive integrates with Microsoft 365 flawlessly, giving you smooth access to its products. That’s not an option on Google Drive.
While you can create documents and spreadsheets, they are in Google Doc format. You can download these files in PDF and Microsoft documents, but that’ll be super time-consuming.
Dropbox is a good choice if you want the best of both worlds, i.e. Google Docs and Microsoft products. It collaborates with both and offers greater efficiency in storing files and folders.
In a nutshell, Google Drive is perfect for individuals who need decent storage in the cloud for their regular files and documents. OneDrive is better for businesses and entrepreneurs who want sufficient space and the ability to sync it with different applications.
How to Sync OneDrive?
The whole purpose of syncing OneDrive with a computer is to ensure that whatever change you make, i.e. editing, deleting, and proofreading a file will be copied to your desktop or mobile.
OneDrive allows file and folder syncing between the cloud and your computer so that you can have quick access to your documents from anywhere. Whatever change you make to the files within OneDrive will automatically appear in your OneDrive app or the website.
You can access your OneDrive files on File Explorer and work on them both online and offline. Syncing is quite a straightforward process on OneDrive. Here’s how to sync your computer with OneDrive.
On your desktop, type OneDrive in the search bar and get to the sign-in page. Log on to the website using the account you’d like to sync with the cloud. We’ve explained these steps in detail for better understanding.
- Step 1: Log into your OneDrive account and click on the Sync button right next to Upload. If you are using Windows 10 or 11, you don’t need to install anything. Onedrive comes by default on your system and the syncing options are also available within the app.
Note: If you are using MAC, you must install OneDrive from AppStore.
- Step 2: Check Windows Explorer to get a brief idea of what it looks like and where you can access OneDrive. It’s located on the left side, but if you haven’t synced it yet, the folder will be empty.
- Step 3: As you click on the Sync, you will get this Window. Click on Open Microsoft OneDrive.
- Step 4: The sign-in window will pop up on your screen. Sign in to the account where you’d like the OneDrive data to be synced.
- Step 5: Once the syncing is complete, click on “Open My OneDrive Folder” and you will be redirected to Windows Explorer where all the data from OneDrive will appear under the “OneDrive” tab.
After syncing, you can upload any file on OneDrive, given that it doesn’t exceed the maximum 5GB of free space. You can all set the viewing and editing permission.
Those who have purchased the paid subscription plans will get additional options, like password protection for each file and an expiration time.
Syncing your OneDrive on smartphones is pretty simple. Just download the app from Google PlayStore or AppStore and log into OneDrive using your email and password.
The auto-save function will automatically sync the changes to all devices. There’s no need to manually save the changes or copy them to all devices. Thanks to the advanced syncing. Now you can use OneDrive on just about any device, offline and online, easily.
OneDrive Not Syncing?
Microsoft has done a tremendous job at making OneDrive available for storage, but there are times when the syncing might simply not work as flawlessly as it claims. This can happen due to several reasons, including the outdated version of the app or lack of sufficient drive space.
The maximum file size you can upload on OneDrive is 10 GB. Anything beyond that will cause syncing issues. You can reach out to the IT help desk service provider to troubleshoot the cause of the syncing error. Or, you can follow the below steps to fix the issue.
- Re-do the sync
- Compress your large files and videos to avoid exceeding the space on OneDrive
- Update your Windows or OneDrive app
- Choose the files and folders you want to sync manually
- Upgrade your OneDrive storage plan to get more space
If you still can’t figure out the technical issue that’s causing errors while syncing, your best bet is to seek professional help. Our IT help desk will fix it for you.
How to Disable OneDrive?
If you want to temporarily disable OneDrive, you can do that by unlinking it from your PC. Rest assured that your data won’t be deleted from OneDrive. You can log into its website to access your files and folders. Here’s how you can disable it on Windows.
- Log into your OneDrive account and navigate to the Settings tab
- Click on Account and choose Unlink this PC
Once it’s disabled, the documents and media files you create and upload on OneDrive will stop syncing with your computer. It works when you have insufficient space on your PC and can’t have all the data on OneDrive stored locally.
OneDrive is your go-to app for creating, uploading, and syncing files quickly. It has a clean user interface with all options neatly displayed and organized. Its seamless integration with Windows 11 and Microsoft Suite makes it an ideal choice for businesses that rely on Microsoft products for their day-to-day activities.
Not just the integration, but effective collaboration and robust file-sharing features make OneDrive an excellent choice for businesses and individuals.
While it comes with an excellent set of features that make your file storage and syncing in the cloud a breeze, people find the 5 GB of free storage quite insufficient. The paid plans can help extend the space limit, but they are quite confusing.
You must buy a Microsoft 365 subscription to get Office Suite within OneDrive. Other than that, Microsoft’s cloud storage is pretty efficient, secure, and a fast tool for managing all your business operations.