Microsoft’s OneDrive has been around for a while now, with more time under its belt than industry-leading cloud storage services like Google Drive and Apple’s iCloud. Since its inception, OneDrive has been continually polished by Microsoft to give users a convenient, efficient, and streamlined experience.

In our Microsoft OneDrive review, we’ll be looking at all the reasons why you should consider this cloud storage solution for your personal and business needs.

Related Reading: Dropbox Review

What Is Microsoft OneDrive?

As a cloud storage provider, OneDrive lets you conveniently sync, store, and access your files in a safe and secure platform. Having the ability to remotely tap into your files from afar is a nice perk. And depending on your line of work or personal needs, the benefits of this are nearly endless.

Back in the day, if you needed specific files from your computer for vacation or business trips, you had several options – all of which were rather inconvenient and clunky. You could opt to bring your entire computer with you, burn your files to a CD, copy them to an external hard drive or laptop, or stick them on a flash drive for later access.

But ever since smartphones became the versatile tools that we all know and love today, it’s been easier than ever to access your computer’s files without having to haul around hardware. Microsoft OneDrive eliminates the time-consuming process of cherry-picking your most-needed files.

Instead, it can automatically sync select folders so that your files are always there awaiting you on the cloud. Now, you simply log into your Microsoft account via your smartphone, tablet, or laptop, and you’ll have instant access to your files.

Although most people are used to this kind of technology and take it for granted, it’s really an amazing concept and one that some companies do better than others. On that note, let’s shift our focus to what it is that makes OneDrive stand out from its competition.

Ease of Use

Let’s assume for a moment that you work in an office and need to share files across multiple devices and computers. With OneDrive’s folder syncing feature, you can effectively make specific folders and files available to multiple users.

In doing so, you no longer need to laboriously copy files from one to device to the next. Via OneDrive, they’re all right there to access. What’s more, Microsoft simplifies this process by allowing you to view OneDrive’s services by either function, data type, or client.

Each of these areas gives you access to different features and options. Under function, users can elect to sync files, view or play them, and access storage. Data type lets you quickly find media and its settings, such as music, photos, and videos.

Searching among clients allows users to easily find things on the web, mobile device, or computer. With such a robust way to look for and share available files, it’s easier than ever to collaborate on projects and interface with one another.

Features

OneDrive’s features are really what make the cloud service so accessible and convenient. The nice thing, too, is that anyone with a Microsoft account is already able to access OneDrive. Not sure if you have an account with Microsoft? You may find that you’ve been able to access OneDrive all along and just didn’t know it.

You automatically get OneDrive if you ever signed up for a Hotmail email account, Office 365, Live, or Outlook. That means you have 5GB of free space available to you through OneDrive. You can therefore easily access your personal or office documents, media files, and more.

Depending on the smartphone or computer you have, you may have the OneDrive app already installed on your device. While it’s true that there are other services available that offer more free storage space, they don’t have near the same rich features offered by OneDrive.

With your OneDrive account, you get some truly handy features that set it apart from other cloud services, such as:

Personal Vault

Personal Vault is a relatively new addition to OneDrive. This useful feature gives you an extra level of security for any files that you store on the cloud. When your Personal Vault is enabled, you are required to use two-factor authentication to gain access to it.

You can choose to have a security code sent to your email address or smartphone, or you can use an authenticator app instead, which will ensure the best security. And thanks to local encryption by BitLocker, you can’t accidentally share your files, and they become locked after so many minutes of inactivity.

Device Syncing

OneDrive can sync both apps and settings on all of your Windows-based desktops, tablets, and laptops. What’s more, there are clients available for Android, iOS, and macOS that allow the users of those devices to access synced files that are stored via OneDrive’s online folders.

Similar to iCloud on the iPhone or iPad, Microsoft OneDrive automatically uploads videos and pictures taken from your smartphone camera. You can access these media files via OneDrive’s camera roll for easy viewing and sharing.

It’s an incredibly handy feature to have at your fingertips. Imagine being on vacation and wanting to share your experience with family and friends. Your OneDrive camera roll is accessible via the web, your PCs, or other OneDrive apps you have installed.

Folder and File Syncing

In the past, Microsoft used separate services for storage and syncing. Now, OneDrive lets you do both easily and conveniently. Gone is the confusing process of separating and sifting through specific files and folders.

Folder Backup

It’s important to note that OneDrive doesn’t allow file syncing to the cloud with just any file or folder from your hard drive. Instead, you have the option of protecting the three folders that are most likely to be backed up. These are your Desktop, Pictures, and Documents folders.

Moreover, you don’t have to keep these folders on OneDrive at all times in order for them to be synced.

Files on Demand

Easily one of the best additions to OneDrive is its Files on Demand feature. When you enable Files on Demand from the Settings panel, files download in real-time as you open them. This is a big deal, as it eliminates the need to copy and share files and folders to each and every computer that you need access to.

What’s more, you still have the ability to designate specific files and folders to be downloaded for offline access.

OneDrive is incredibly robust with its Windows 10 incorporation. When displayed in File Explorer, OneDrive lets you choose individual folders to be synced, or you can opt for everything to be synced.

And when you perform searches in Desktop or Cortana, your search results now include your OneDrive files. This includes being able to play music files you upload to OneDrive via the Groove Music app

Mobile Clients

OneDrive does above and beyond standard Android and iOS support. OneDrive’s mobile apps now work with Android Wear and Apple Watch Series 3, allowing you to perform actions like cycling through your recent photos directly from your smartwatch’s face.

Many of OneDrive’s features and functions can be performed on tablets, as well. If you are running iOS, Android, or Windows 10, you can take advantage of OneDrive apps or access the streamlined web interface.

Moreover, you can view anything that is stored on your OneDrive, such as pictures and videos. And, you can upload and share your files with fellow Facebook users or anyone with an email account.

Microsoft has even implemented a search capability in their mobile apps. And if you’ve taken a picture or video from your smart device’s camera, you can upload it to your OneDrive account for easy access and sharing.

If you prefer, you can set the feature to upload your recorded media automatically, thereby eliminating the steps needed to upload each and every picture or video you take. It’s also nice to be able to watch these files directly on your smartphone.

Even after you’ve deleted them from your phone or tablet, you can access your OneDrive and enjoy your media files from your smart device.

Media Support

Speaking of media, Microsoft’s cloud service shows you all of the most common types of files that you might want to store on OneDrive so you can easily play them from your device. This includes documents, photos, music, and video files.

With your documents, not only can they be downloaded and uploaded, but you can view or edit them online via OneDrive thanks to the integrated Office Online apps. OneDrive acts as both the main file location and folder for all of your Office Online documents.

What’s more, you can allow multiple authors to edit these documents simultaneously. An icon is displayed that shows you who’s doing the editing, with live updates, to boot.

For your music, photos, and videos, OneDrive does a commendable job of displaying your media files. Searching is a breeze, allowing you to quickly and easily locate and use your favorite media files.

Geotagging is also on deck, so you can see where certain photos were taken. These kinds of features are presently unique to very few cloud services, giving OneDrive another gold star that you can’t get in many other places.

Interface

Microsoft has streamlined OneDrive’s user interface over the years, culminating in the user-friendly version we see today. The new layout is designed to make use of your device’s screen real estate more efficiently.

And thanks to a clean text style, OneDrive’s readability is high. This allows you to quickly scan through your files and folders to find what you’re looking for. New files pop out, delivering an uncluttered appearance while making it a lot easier to scan through your files.

This extends to shared files, as well, as they are much easier for users to identify. Thumbnails are bigger, too, boasting far more detail compared to past iterations. This presentation serves to give you the most accessible user-interface to date.

But Microsoft didn’t stop there. This familiar theme is present across its other apps, as well, making it easy to move between your different devices without feeling displaced or confused. The nice thing, too, is that both Windows and Mac users can look forward to benefiting from the same interface across all devices.

Efficiency is key, which is why Microsoft designed its interface to emulate that of Windows File Explorer. Now, you get more viewable items in your folders when accessing OneDrive, thereby improving navigation and functionality.

Under OneDrive’s Recent view, you can quickly and easily find files that were recently added, allowing you and your shared users to locate notable entries for easier collaboration and optimization.

Popular files now display a trending indicator that eliminates the need to dig through files and folders to see what’s hot. You’ll also notice added insights that show each shared file’s history, influence, and impact, as well as fellow collaborators. You can also see who has looked at your files and when.

As such, you can find out more about your files than ever before, giving you greater insight into what’s going on with them when you share your work with others.

Microsoft OneDrive Pricing Overview

As we already pointed out, OneDrive is free to use if you already have an account through other Microsoft products and services. Admittedly, the free version is pretty limited in what you can do with it. So if you require more robust features and storage, you’ll want to check out the paid Microsoft OneDrive plans.

OneDrive prices range from $1.99 a month to $99.99 a year. The most basic paid plan is the OneDrive Standalone 100GB plan. For $1.99 a month, you get 100GB of storage via the OneDrive cloud service.

After that is the Microsoft 365 Personal plan, which costs $69.99 a year. You also have the option of buying this plan on an as-needed basis for $6.99 a month. With the Microsoft 365 Personal plan, you get 1TB of storage, both OneDrive, and Skype, as well as the office apps Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

And lastly, there is the Microsoft 365 Family plan for $99.99 a year. As with the previous plan, you can buy the Microsoft 365 Family plan on an as-needed basis at the cost of $9.99 a month. Designed to accommodate up to six people, the 365 Family plan gives each user 1TB of storage for a total of 6TB.

Also included are the office apps Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. When you buy either the Microsoft 365 Personal plan or the Microsoft 365 Family plan, both Windows and Mac users get the above office apps fully-installed and up-to-date. PC users also get Access and Publisher included with their purchase.

It’s worth noting that cloud storage for students is also available free of charge. You’ll want to make sure that your institution is eligible first, but if it is, you can look forward to getting Office 365 Education for free.

This includes classroom tools, OneNote, PowerPoint, Word, Excel, and Microsoft Teams. Simply enter your school email address to see if you qualify for this free service. Eligibility includes both students and educators, ensuring better collaboration and classroom communication.

Security and Privacy

It’s no secret that cloud services are prone to data breaches and theft. Of course, so is anything else whenever data and the internet are involved. Thankfully, Microsoft has gone to great lengths to implement security features into OneDrive.

As we mentioned previously, the Personal Vault lets you store your most important photos, files, and videos using identity verification. This extra protection gives you the peace of mind that your files are safely housed in the vault until you’re ready to access them.

When you want to share remote files with other users, you can set links with expiration dates, giving others limited-time access. This helps thwart attempts to access your shared files since there’s a time limit on when they are available.

Ransomware detection and recovery are other welcome features that alert you if Microsoft detects a malicious attack, such as ransomware. If your files are compromised, you can get help restoring them to a safe point before they were attacked. You can take advantage of this feature up to 30 days after an attack.

OneDrive also lets you restore your entire OneDrive folder to any time within the last 30 days. This must-have feature comes in handy if you are faced with an accidental mass deletion, ransomware attack, file corruption, or other catastrophic events.

Being able to recover such files can make all the difference in your life, especially depending on what your files are most frequently used for. To ensure that other users can’t accidentally delete or corrupt your files, OneDrive lets you set a password on shared folders or files, requiring other users to enter it if they need to gain access.

By doing this, you can effectively keep unintended recipients from accessing your files and potentially damaging them.

Speed

For the most part, the time that it takes you to upload or download files to or from OneDrive depends on the speed of your internet connection. Other factors include how geographically close you are to Microsoft’s servers, how much data your ISP (internet service provider) lets you upload per day, and the speed of your computer, among other factors.

To ensure that you get the best transfer speed with OneDrive, Microsoft recommends you follow these tips:

  • Use a wired connection rather than a wireless one.
  • Try to avoid running additional apps on your computer whenever you are uploading or downloading a considerable amount of data to and from OneDrive.
  • Try not to use your internet connection for other online activities when you are transferring a lot of data.
  • If possible, try uploading or downloading at night. This is when your connection is likely to get less use from others in your household and in your area.
  • Before transferring a large amount of data, ensure that your computer isn’t set to go into sleep mode. Any uploading or downloading will stop if your computer goes to sleep.
  • Try testing your connection speed by searching for “bandwidth test” online. When you know what your connection speed is, search the internet for “upload time calculator” or “download time calculator.” This will help you find out how long it should take to upload or download data of specific amounts.

Customer Support

OneDrive has a help and learning center on Microsoft’s website that gives you access to a whole host of information. There, you can learn how to use OneDrive efficiently and effectively. From getting started to sharing and collaborating, you have everything you need right at your fingertips to make the most of OneDrive.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, you can ask Microsoft’s large online community for assistance. Alternatively, you can contact Microsoft directly via their contact page for further customer support. You get a short form of 250 characters or less to ask a question, so you’ll have to keep it concise.

You are more than likely going to be able to find the help you need via the support page. But just in case you can’t, Microsoft has plenty of additional resources to assist you with OneDrive.

Pros

  • File sharing and storage made easy
  • Flawless Windows 10 integration
  • Slick interface that’s easy to use
  • Great for online photo storage
  • Excellent mobile use
  • Fine addition to 365 

Cons

  • A bit pricey given the storage options
  • Could slow down your PC
  • Can’t sync all folders

Conclusion

We really enjoyed our time with our OneDrive cloud storage review. Thanks to rich features and one of the best user interfaces around, Microsoft’s OneDrive is an excellent investment for your cloud storage needs. Although there are alternatives that offer more free storage, none quite compare to the robust experience that OneDrive gives you.

FAQ

Who is Microsoft OneDrive for?

OneDrive is deal for anyone who needs easy and convenient access to their files. This makes OneDrive ideal for work, school, and personal use. And thanks to its mobile accessibility, OneDrive’s efficiency makes it a stand-out application.

Is Microsoft OneDrive any good?

Although it isn’t the most affordable option available for cloud services, OneDrive offers plenty to like and excels in giving its users a convenient platform to access their files from anywhere there is the internet.

Is Microsoft OneDrive reliable?

Thanks to OneDrive’s stellar security and ability to access your files on-the-go, this is one cloud service that you can trust to deliver a solid user experience.

Is Microsoft OneDrive safe to use?

Yes. Although cloud services are known to be a risky venture for any user, Microsoft implements excellent security into OneDrive. That said, there is always a potential for data theft when storing and sharing files over the cloud.

Can I password protect OneDrive?

Absolutely. You’ll have to set up a password upon signup. You can change this at any time.

Does OneDrive automatically backup?

Yes, but you’ll need to select this option in your PC folder backup. Once activated, OneDrive will automatically back up and sync all of your desktop files, as well as your Pictures and Documents folders.

How much does OneDrive cost?

If you already have a Microsoft or Outlook account, you get 5GB of OneDrive storage for free. If you require more storage data and features, you can upgrade to a paid account. For just $1.99 a month (OneDrive Standalone), you can upgrade to 100GB of storage.

The next plan up is $69.99 a year (Microsoft 365 Personal) and gives you 1TB of storage, plus the following apps:

  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Outlook
  • Skype

You also have the option to buy this service on a per-month basis at $6.99. After that, for $99.99 a year (Microsoft 365 Family), you can upgrade to 6TB of storage, plus the above-outlined apps. This plan is for a total of six people, giving each user their own 1TB of storage.

If you don’t want to buy the yearly package, Microsoft will let you buy it on a per-month basis at $9.99.

Is OneDrive worth the money?

While it’s true that OneDrive isn’t the cheapest option in town, you’re also getting a lot of bang for your buck. Given its rich features and reliable security, OneDrive is a sound investment that is sure to serve you well.

Does Microsoft OneDrive offer a refund?

Yes. To get your refund, you’ll need to manually go into your OneDrive account and cancel your subscription so that it doesn’t auto-renew. When you choose to end your subscription, you’ll get a refund for your purchase.

Is there a free version of Microsoft OneDrive?

Yes, but you’ll need to have a Microsoft or Outlook account. With either, you get 5GB of free storage to use each month.

Does Microsoft OneDrive slow down the computer?

Some users report a slower PC due to having OneDrive running. This is because it constantly scans and syncs your files between cloud and PC storage.

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Anthony Cornell

Anthony Cornell

Anthony Cornell is a freelance technology journalist. He reviews educational software and writes in-depth online course reviews from popular e-learning platforms. You can reach Anthony at anthony@learnacourseonline.com

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