What Can You Do With OneDrive?
Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage service now comes installed by default with Windows 10. That OneDrive folder is on your File Explorer tree and there is no getting rid of it, even if you deactivate the OneDrive app. Microsoft wants OneDrive to be always part of your Windows experience. So let’s see what OneDrive can do, and why MS is pushing it so hard...
Using OneDrive Cloud Storage
To get started with OneDrive on Windows, type “onedrive” in the Start menu’s search box and click the OneDrive app’s name in the results. Follow the setup wizard’s instructions to the final prompt, the “Open my OneDrive folder” button. That folder is where your computer meets Microsoft’s cloud.
You can place files or folders in your OneDrive folder by copying or moving them, just as you normally would. Moving is better to avoid duplicates that may get out of sync with each other. You can drag items to the OneDrive folder and drop them in, or cut-and-paste them. From within an application, you can “save as” to your OneDrive folder. The OneDrive folder is exactly like any other folder, except its contents get echoed in the cloud.
Every folder or file that’s placed in your local OneDrive folder gets copied to your OneDrive storage space in the cloud. Changes to local copies are synced to their counterparts in the cloud. You can access your OneDrive files from any device that can log into your Microsoft account. This beats carrying a keychain full of USB drives!
Only three folders appear in OneDrive by default: Attachments, Documents, and Public. The Attachments folder holds files that arrive or are sent as attachments to your Microsoft account’s email. The Documents folder is where any new documents that you create will be stored by default; you can always specify another location when you create a document, or save an updated copy of the document with the “save as” function found in most programs. The Public folder is where files that you share with the public go, either when you move a file to the Public folder or change its permissions to “share with public.
There already is a Documents folder on your hard drive. You can move it to the OneDrive Documents folder but that looks a bit redundant when viewed in File Explorer. The more elegant way to get all your Documents synced with OneDrive is to change the location of your original Documents system folder.
Right-click on the original Documents folder and select Properties. Then select the Location tab. Click on the Move button. Select OneDrive and then Documents as your target. Be sure the path shown is OneDrive\Documents not OneDrive\Documents\Documents. Finally, click “Select Folder.” Henceforth, everything saved to your original Documents folder will be synced in OneDrive.
But you still have to move the existing contents of your original Documents folder to OneDrive, if you want it there. Open your original Documents folder, select the content you want to be synced to OneDrive, and move it to the Documents folder in your OneDrive folder. Do the same for your original Pictures and Shared folders too, if you wish.
One Drive for Local or Cloud Storage
Be aware that if you COPY a file or folder to your OneDrive folder instead of MOVING it, the copy will be updated in the cloud but the original file or folder will not be updated. Also, any new content that you create in the original folder will not be echoed in the local or cloud OneDrive folders. Generally speaking, it is best to MOVE content to OneDrive. Having duplicate files and folders on your hard drive wastes space and gets confusing.
Let’s move from our local OneDrive folder to OneDrive on the Web and see what we can do there. Click once on the OneDrive “cloud” icon in your system tray and OneDrive’s dialog window will appear, tall and narrow on the right-hand side of your screen. Click on the three dots icon in the upper-right corner of the window and select “View online” to open your OneDrive cloud storage space’s dashboard.
Wow! It looks very different from the File Explorer view of your local OneDrive folder. But as you explore the options you will find they are much the same. Here are a few significant differences.
The Upload option is another way to move a file or folder on your local drive to OneDrive in the cloud and to the OneDrive folder on your local drive.
The “New” option include creation of new Microsoft Office documents using the Office Online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or OneNote. The online versions of these Office standards are limited compared to their fully-paid versions, but more than good enough for most consumers and even small businesses. Create content to your heart’s content!
Microsoft is hoping that you will do exactly that, and save it on OneDrive. Then, when you run into the 5 GB ceiling on your free OneDrive storage space, you will feel compelled to subscribe to one of MS’ premium services, Office 365 Home (($99.99/year or $9.99/month) or OneDrive Premium ($69.99/year or $6.99/month). The least expensive paid option is to buy 50 GB of storage space for $1.99 per month.
This table compares OneDrive plans side by side. It is worthwhile for you to study the features in each plan and choose the one that best meets your needs.
I'm sure many who read this will wonder how Microsoft's OneDrive compares to Google Drive. In fact, they are quite similar. They both offer free cloud storage, with syncing and collaboration features. They both work on a range of web, desktop and mobile platforms. They both have a suite of online office tools for word processing, spreadsheets, etc. One significant difference is that Google Drive offers 15GB of free storage, as compared to 5GB for OneDrive. And OneDrive is significantly more complex than Google Drive, in my experience.
But complexity comes with control of how you do things and how they look to you and others. Your needs will determine whether that much control is worth the extra complexity. For a sole proprietor or a small business with five or fewer employees who need to collaborate, the five-seat Office 365 deal looks pretty economical and functional. For a busy volunteer who shares a lot with volunteers, the one-seat Office 365 Personal looks good. Fifty GB of storage for less than two bucks a month is not bad.
For individuals who just want the convenience of being able to access files from multiple devices or locations, the free version of OneDrive with 5 GB of storage is a good option. It's also a painless way to ensure that important files and folders are backed up.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 8 May 2018
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- What Can You Do With OneDrive? (Posted: 8 May 2018)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved