Which OneDrive Application is Right for You & When

OneDrive is a great cloud storage service that offers its users a variety of options for working with it, including a standard desktop application, touch apps, a web interface and more. With all of these options, it can be difficult to decide which application is right for you. Each service style has its strengths and weaknesses and they may not be apparent at first glance. We'll walk through each of OneDrive's various interfaces comparing their features and discussing when each would be best to use.

The OneDrive Touch App - Works Best on Devices with Touch

The touch app version of OneDrive takes advantage of the new modern interface that's used in Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone. It provides a fancy aesthetic that many users will appreciate. Its large thumbnail style interface and touch-friendly design make it a great choice for mobile devices. It's very light on resources so you'll have no trouble running it, even on budget friendly tablets and smartphones. If you want to flip through image galleries on your OneDrive on the go or upload individual files, this app can be a great option for you.

OneDrive, apps, programs, clients, versions

While this version of OneDrive is great for browsing through your files on the go, it doesn't go much further than that. While it's certainly usable on a desktop, it's more inefficient for use with a traditional mouse or touchpad. While that's fine when using your fingertips, it just takes too long with a mouse. The in-app explorer view makes uploading large batches of files annoying, especially considering that you can't select a folder and upload its entire contents in one go. The fact that it keeps your files in the cloud is great for saving on data usage, but you have to wait for your files to download before you can open any of them. If you're looking to access OneDrive from your desktop or laptop or, you need to upload a lot of data, this is not the right version for you.

The OneDrive Desktop Application - Works Best on PCs and Macs

The OneDrive desktop application installs just like any other application you've ever used. The installation procedure creates a OneDrive folder in your user directory and creates a service that syncs the contents of that folder with the cloud. Your OneDrive files are always updated and saved on your computer any time changes are made in the cloud. This means all of your files are ready to be worked with immediately.

OneDrive, apps, programs, clients, versions

The OneDrive desktop application makes adding, retrieving and working with files on your OneDrive as easy as working with any file on your computer. You can open files from within applications and then save files directly from a Save As dialog, just like any other folder on your computer. You can delete files, rename them, move them or open them without any extra work. That ease of use makes it extremely helpful if you need to upload a lot of files, upload large files or you are doing a lot of editing.

The OneDrive desktop application is available as a separate download for Windows 7 and Windows 8 and it is also built into Windows 8.1. For more information about using the desktop version of OneDrive, read this article: How to Sync Your Files with OneDrive in Windows 7.

The OneDrive Website - Great When Working Remotely

While the OneDrive desktop application and the touch app are useful for browsing through your collection of files and uploading data, they serve only as a window to the service that is OneDrive. Some advanced features which include some really useful tools, are only accessible through the OneDrive website. The best part: you get full access to all your files, all of the best features of OneDrive and you can get it from any browser on any computer without installing anything.

OneDrive, apps, programs, clients, versions

The OneDrive website interface provides a great experience for uploading, downloading and editing your files. You can choose to open files using local applications or you can use lite versions of the popular Microsoft Office software directly in your browser. You can share your files and collaborate with colleagues, all with an intuitive interface that looks great. The default thumbnail view is great for touchscreen devices, but you have the option to switch to a listview that makes it easier to work with on a desktop. This makes it the most versatile option by far.

OneDrive, apps, programs, clients, versions

You'll find this interface is most useful when you aren't on your own computer. It allows you to jump on to anything with Internet connectivity, browse, edit and manage your files easily without installing anything and then move on without leaving anything behind. While that's its primary use, the advanced features will guarantee you spend a significant amount of time on the website interface even when you're at home.

OneDrive, apps, programs, clients, versions

The website interface gives you the best of what OneDrive has to offer, but it comes with one downside. Similar to the Windows 8.1 version, none of your files are synced to your hard drive automatically. This saves hard drive space, avoids data charges and keeps your Internet "pipes" free, but it also means that you need to wait for your files to download before you can open them with local applications.

For more information about using the OneDrive website interface, check out this article: 9 Reasons Why the OneDrive Website is Awesome.


While there are a number of options for accessing your OneDrive, the best option changes depending on your hardware and current needs. For quick browsing on a touchscreen device, go with the Windows 8.1 or mobile app. If you need to sync many files, upload large files or edit many files, you'll want the desktop application. To access your data from any computer without installing anything and to take advantage of the other awesome features that OneDrive has to offer, check out the website. Whichever version you choose, you'll find a pleasant experience.

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