Simple questions: What is OneDrive? Why should you use it?

If you use a PC or a laptop with Windows 10, a Microsoft Surface tablet, or an Xbox One console, you have undoubtedly already met OneDrive. The same is true if you are using Office 365, and even if you use a smartphone with Android. Are you wondering what OneDrive is and what it does? Do you want to know what the benefits are when using OneDrive? Read this article, as it explains everything you need to know:

What is OneDrive?

OneDrive is Microsoft's storage service for hosting files in the "cloud." It is available for free to all the owners of a Microsoft account. OneDrive offers users a simple way to store, sync and share various types of files, with other people and devices on the internet. Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Xbox One also use OneDrive also to synchronize system settings, visual customizations, themes, app settings, and even Microsoft Edge's tabs, browsing history and saved passwords.

The OneDrive logo

You can access the files stored in your OneDrive space directly from a web browser or, if you are using Windows, directly from the operating system. Other means of accessing your OneDrive files include apps for Windows, Xbox, Mac OS, iOS, and Android.

The OneDrive cloud space seen in a web browser

Historical note: 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?

When we published this article, OneDrive offered 5 GB of storage space for free. Older users of the service were able to claim 15 or even 25 GB of free space. There are a few ways in which you can add more free space to your OneDrive. For instance, if you recommend this service to your friends, you can earn up to 10 GB of free OneDrive storage. You can find other ways to increase the free storage space, in this guide: 6 ways to add more storage space to your OneDrive.

The Manage Storage options available for OneDrive

You can host any types of files on OneDrive, as long they are not bigger than 15 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 - 50 GB for $1.99/month
  • OneDrive + Office 365 Personal for 1 user - 1TB for $69.99/year or $6.99/month. This plan includes a full license for Office 365.
  • OneDrive + Office 365 Home for 6 users - 6TB (1TB per user) for $99.99/year or $9.99/month. This plan includes a full license of Office 365, which can be installed and used by up to 6 users at the same time.
The free and paid plans available for OneDrive

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

Why would you want to use OneDrive?

There are quite a lot of reasons for why you might want to use OneDrive, ranging from easy access to your cloud storage space from any device, to how easy it is to share stuff from your OneDrive, and going all the way to what an excellent backup solution OneDrive is. Here are some of the reasons why we believe you should use OneDrive:

OneDrive is free, it can save backups of your files, and it can sync them

First of all, starting to use OneDrive does not cost a thing: it is free for anyone, as long as you make do with the default 5 GB of free storage space it offers. That is a good starting point for anyone who wants to store more than a few files in the cloud.

Also, in Windows 10, Microsoft configures OneDrive to be the default saving place for your documents. If you let it, OneDrive can automatically save backups of your copies to the cloud, and automatically sync them to your other devices on which you have OneDrive set up. If your hard drive or SSD fails, you have your documents readily available in your OneDrive, thus avoiding the loss of important files.

OneDrive can protect important folders from your PCs

You can even set OneDrive to automatically upload files (photos and videos) from your Android smartphone or your iPhone so that you never risk losing them.

OneDrive is available on all your devices, desktop, and mobile

OneDrive is omnipresent in Windows 10, which is the most used PC operating system in the world. That also means that you do not have to do anything special to get OneDrive on your PC or device if it already has Windows 10 on it. OneDrive is also there, and all you need to access it is open its OneDrive folder.

The OneDrive folder from Windows 10

Furthermore, Microsoft has worked hard on getting OneDrive to all the major computing platforms in the world. They have developed OneDrive apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. You can install the OneDrive apps on all your devices, and you can access and sync your files in the cloud from anywhere.

The OneDrive app for iOS (on the left) and Android (on the right)

If you need any of the OneDrive apps, you can download them from the official OneDrive website, here: Download OneDrive.

OneDrive lets you share files with anyone you want

Everything in your OneDrive is already stored online in a cloud storage service, and sharing any of your files or folders from it is a breeze, pun intended. :) OneDrive makes it easy to share your files with whomever you want: a few clicks or taps and your files are shared directly with the person(s) you choose, or you get links that you can share on any medium online by pasting them. The people who click or tap on your links gain instant access to the linked files, in any web browser they might be using.

Sharing files and folders in OneDrive

OneDrive can sync your settings across different Windows devices

If you are using Windows 10 (or Windows 8.1) devices or an Xbox One gaming console, and you configure them to use the same Microsoft account, they can back up and sync not only your files but also things such as your settings and customization options.

Having your devices sync settings and customization details in your OneDrive means that you can benefit from the same or as similar as possible user experience on all of them.

OneDrive is an excellent all-purpose backup solution

Furthermore, OneDrive has become an affordable solution in the cloud storage market. It is cheaper than many other cloud storage providers, and it should also present more trust than others.

Auto Save options available in OneDrive for Windows 10

Thus, OneDrive can prove to be a great backup solution, as it meets the essential criteria that define a good backup solution: it is affordable, it offers plenty of storage space, accessible on all platforms, it is well integrated with Office 365 and Windows 10, and the company that provides it has lots of know-how when it comes to cloud-based services.

Are you a fan of OneDrive?

Have you been using OneDrive for a long time? We got so accustomed to having OneDrive on all the time that we can no longer imagine using our computers and devices without it. We would love to hear what you think about OneDrive and what it has to offer, so do not hesitate to leave a comment in the section below.