What is OneDrive

Microsoft OneDrive is a cloud based storage service that allows you to access your files anywhere from any device. With OneDrive, you can also share your files and work together on them with other people. Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions include OneDrive and it is also available as a standalone product with free and paid versions.

Files stored in OneDrive live on the internet in Microsoft's servers. However, copies of your OneDrive files can also be on your computer, phone, or tablet. These copies allow you to access your files when you don't have an internet connection. When you make changes to files on one device, OneDrive will automagically send the changes to the cloud so that other devices can have the latest version.

Sharing and Collaboration

Because your OneDrive files live online, they can be easily accessed by other people who need them. OneDrive files can be shared with view or edit permissions. They can be shared so that anyone with a link can access them, or they can be shared with specific people. Shared files can also be setup so that OneDrive will automatically stop sharing them at a predetermined time.

Try creating a folder in OneDrive and share it with people you work with. Any files or folders that you put inside your shared folder will automatically be shared too. This is an easy way to give access to files without having to fuss around with sharing settings or emailing links each time you want to share something new. Others can also add files to your folder when they have something to share. This is also an easy way to move files between computers. You don’t need to search for that USB stick anymore!

Sharing is just the beginning though. With Office 365, more than one person can edit a file at the same time. You might be working on a spreadsheet and need input from a colleague or client. No problem. Just share the file with them and they can jump in and work on it with you. You'll see what cell they're working in and any changes they make will show up on your screen within seconds. You don't have to work on files at the same time though. Your colleague or client can make changes when it suits them. Your copy of the file will be updated automatically and you'll see the changes they made the next time you open it.

For instructions on how to share files and folders with the business edition of OneDrive, click here, or for the personal edition, click here.

PC Folder Backup

OneDrive on Windows allows you to move your Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders into OneDrive. This means that files you put in these locations get backed up to the internet. Because your files are online, you can also access the files that you're working on from your phone or tablet. This can be very useful when you're out and about and need to find some information quickly. Also, if you use more than one Windows computer, turning this feature on for all of your Windows devices means that when you save a file on your desktop on one device, it automatically appears on the desktop of your other devices seamlessly.

For more information about backing up your important folders with OneDrive, click here.

Save Disk Space

Files On-Demand is a feature on the Windows 10 and Mac versions of OneDrive that gives you access to all of your OneDrive files without having to download them to your computer. Files are displayed in Explorer/Finder but are only downloaded when you open them. This helps save space on your device as well as bandwidth on your internet connection.

For information about Files On-Demand for Windows, click here, or for Mac, click here.

A Note on OneDrive as a Backup

OneDrive provides a basic level of backup protection by having your files in more than one place. This is adequate if your device gets stolen or damaged. However, if your OneDrive files get accidentally altered or deleted, or you suffer a malware attack, your important information could be lost forever. While OneDrive does have some protections to minimise the likelihood and the damage caused in these situations, it is not a comprehensive backup solution. Microsoft recommends using a third-party solution to backup your content and data regularly. Look out for a Tuesday Tech Tips post about backup best practices in the near future.


OneDrive has lots of great features that allow you to embrace the convenience of the cloud to help you work anywhere and collaborate with others. As with anything new, it can be a bit tricky to get your head around. Get in touch if you have any questions or need a hand getting started.