Simple questions: What is OneDrive?

If you use a PC with Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, a Microsoft Surface tablet, an Xbox One console or a Windows Phone, you surely have encountered the term OneDrive. The same is true if you're using Microsoft Office 2013, Microsoft Office 2016 or Office 365. Wondering what OneDrive is and what it does? 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 kinds of files, with other people and devices on the Web. Xbox One, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 and Windows Phone use OneDrive also for synchronizing your system settings, visual customizations, themes, app settings and even Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge tabs, history and saved passwords.

The files stored in OneDrive can be accessed directly from a web browser or, if you're using Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, 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, here: 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?

Right now, when we are writing this article, OneDrive offers 5GB of storage space for free. Older users of the service were able to claim 15 or even 25GB of free space. There are a few ways in which you can add more free space to your OneDrive. For instance, if you refer this service to a couple of your friends, you can earn up to 10GB of free OneDrive storage. You can find other ways to increase the free storage space that is available, in this guide: 6 Ways To Add More Storage Space To Your OneDrive.

You can host any types of files on OneDrive, as long they are not bigger than 10 GB each. This file size restriction is true regardless of the way you choose to upload your files.

If you need additional space, OneDrive offers a few storage plans which you can purchase for a monthly fee:

  • OneDrive Basic - 50GB for $1.99/month
  • OneDrive + Office 365 Personal for 1 user - 1TB for $6.99/month. This plan includes a full licence for Office 365.
  • OneDrive + Office 365 Personal for 5 users - 1TB for $9.99/month. This plan includes a full licence for Office 365, which can be installed and used by up to 5 users at the same time.

You can find all the available subscription plans here: OneDrive Plans.

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.

OneDrive, Microsoft, what is, cloud, storage, plans, price, features

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.

OneDrive, Microsoft, what is, cloud, storage, plans, price, features

If you use Windows 10, you should know that you can pin the OneDrive website to the Start Menu, for faster access.

OneDrive, Microsoft, what is, cloud, storage, plans, price, features

OneDrive can be accessed from many types of computers and devices: Windows computers and tablets, Macs, 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 and 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.

OneDrive, Microsoft, what is, cloud, storage, plans, price, features

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. Microsoft Office Online gives you access to basic editing tools that are used when creating most documents.

OneDrive, Microsoft, what is, cloud, storage, plans, price, features

You can also create documents in Microsoft Office 2010, 2013 or 2016 and save them directly to OneDrive.

OneDrive, Microsoft, what is, cloud, storage, plans, price, features

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, what is, cloud, storage, plans, price, features

You can find a detailed guide on how sharing works, here: How to share files and folders using the OneDrive website.

Another useful OneDrive feature is that it allows you to remotely access all the files found on your Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 computers. 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 features is the fact that it is deeply integrated with Microsoft's most important products: Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile, Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft Office and Xbox One. This service is used by all these different 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 gaming console or a smartphone.


As you can see, OneDrive is truly a great service. It offers enough free storage space in the cloud for a casual user and 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'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.