Simple Questions: What Is OneDrive?

If you use Windows 8, 8.1, Xbox One or Windows Phone, you surely have encountered the term OneDrive. The same is true if you're using Microsoft Office 2013 or Office 365. Wondering what OneDrive is and what does it do? If you want an answer to this question, this article will explain everything you need to know.

What Is OneDrive?

OneDrive is Microsoft's service for hosting files in the "cloud" that's available for free to all the owners of a Microsoft account. OneDrive offers users a simple way to store, sync and share all kind of files with other people and devices on the web. Xbox One, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone also use OneDrive for synchronizing your system settings, visual customizations, themes, app settings and even Internet Explorer tabs, history and saved passwords.

The files that are hosted on OneDrive can be accessed directly from a web browser or, if you're using Windows 8 or 8.1, directly from the operating system. Other means of accessing your OneDrive files include apps for Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox and even Mac OS X, iOS or Android. These apps can be downloaded from the official OneDrive website: Download OneDrive.

Until January 2014, OneDrive used to be named SkyDrive. Before that, just until the launch of Windows 8, it was named Windows Live SkyDrive. More information on the history of this service and its previous names, can be found on Wikipedia: OneDrive History.

What Does OneDrive Offer In Terms Of Storage Space?

OneDrive is relatively generous, offering 15 GB of free storage space to its users. Older users of the service were able to reclaim 25 GB of free space. There are several ways for adding more free space to your OneDrive, like referring this service to your friends or uploading the pictures from your smartphone to OneDrive.

You can host any types of files on it, as long they are not bigger than 10 GB each. This file size restriction is true no matter the way you choose to upload your files.

Additional storage space can be purchased for a monthly fee: 100 GB for $1.99/month, 200 GB for $3.99/month and 1 TB for $6.99/month. The latter, more expensive plan also includes a full licence for Office 365. Also, each time you purchase an Office 365 subscription, you automatically get 1TB of storage space on your OneDrive.

How To Access OneDrive?

OneDrive is the central point for hosting and sharing files online when using Microsoft's services and applications. The only way to access it "independently" is using a web browser. Simply go to the OneDrive website, enter your Microsoft account credentials and sign in.

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When you are signed in, you can view all the files that you have hosted in the cloud and you can open them directly from your browser.

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With Internet Explorer, you can also pin OneDrive to your taskbar and get faster access to it.

OneDrive, Microsoft, cloud

OneDrive can be accessed from many types of computer and devices: Windows computer and tablets, Mac computers, Xbox consoles, Android smartphones, iPhones and Windows Phones. The complete list of apps and clients can be found here: Get OneDrive apps, on any device.

Online Collaboration & Sharing With OneDrive

One of the greatest features offered by OneDrive is that it allows you to collaborate on documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote) with others.

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You can easily create documents straight from your web browser. There, you have access to Microsoft Office Online, which is a "light" version of Microsoft Office 2013. Microsoft Office Online gives you access to basic editing tools that are used when creating most documents.

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You can also create documents in Microsoft Office 2010 or 2013 and save them directly to OneDrive.

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If that doesn't work for you, you can create documents in any Office suite and then have them uploaded to OneDrive.

Sharing documents and collaborating when using OneDrive is very easy: click or tap the Share button on the top toolbar and choose the sharing method that you prefer.

OneDrive, Microsoft, cloud

You can find a detailed guide on how sharing works, here: How to Share Files and Folders Using the OneDrive Website.

Another useful feature is that it allows you to remotely access all the files on your Windows 7 and Windows 8 computers, if you have installed the OneDrive desktop application. If you're interested to learn how this feature works, read this guide: How to Fetch Files Remotely from Your PCs Using OneDrive in Windows.

OneDrive - The Cloud That Connects All Microsoft Products & Services

One of OneDrive's key aspects is the fact that it is deeply integrated with Microsoft's most important products: Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1 and Xbox One. This service is used by these platforms as the central point for uploading files to the cloud, synchronizing system and app settings, remembering your passwords and browsing history and more.

OneDrive is the service that will give you the power to access all the above at any moment, from any place. It doesn't really matter if you use a computer, a tablet, a console or a smartphone.


As you can see, OneDrive is truly a great service. Offering quite a bit of free storage space, it allows you to use it without much hassle on a multitude of devices. If you have any questions about it, don't hesitate to ask. For that, you can use the comments form below.

About the Author: Codrut Neagu
Codrut is a Senior Editor on Digital Citizen. He has studies in IT, telecom and law. He's passionate about technology and he is fluent in working with several operating systems, including Windows and Linux. He likes to test security products and he feels like at home when digging through the registry, optimizing things or having fun on Telnet.