Offering an excellent deal to Microsoft users, OneDrive is about as convenient as it gets thanks to integration into Windows laptops and Office 365. A few limitations on extra features and security may hold some people back, but it’s an unbeatably simple and stress-free way for Windows users to keep files secure. You can read our detailed OneDrive review below or sign up now.
- Great for Microsoft users
- Reasonable price
- Simple to use
- Limited security
- No file versioning
- No scheduled backups
Microsoft’s own online backup software comes pre-installed on all Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 laptops, and you can sign into OneDrive simply by logging into an existing Microsoft account. All users will get 5GB of storage space for free, which can be extended to 50GB for $1.99 per month.
For more space, Microsoft Office subscriptions now come complete with 1TB of OneDrive storage. Altogether, this will set you back $6.99 per month for a single user, or $9.99 for a 5-user Home plan.
Unlike many Cloud storage companies, Microsoft doesn’t simply offer a more feature-rich version of their personal backup service with OneDrive for Business. In fact, it’s a distinctly separate service all round – much more tailored to collaborative business needs than personal storage.
Running on SharePoint, OneDrive for Business can be installed on servers as well as accessed from the Cloud, and provides centralized storage space for colleagues to add, move and edit documents within the workplace.
Prices start from $5 per month for 1TB of space per user.
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How does OneDrive compare to the competition?
For MS Office subscribers, OneDrive is pretty hard to beat so far as value for money is concerned – $5.99 is a pretty reasonable monthly charge for 1TB of storage space plus a full suite of office software. For other users, there’s still a good deal on offer here although, with a maximum of 100GB available, it won’t be the right choice for everyone.
Online backup or Cloud storage?
A bit of both
Office subscribers will get most of the benefits of both traditional online backups and Cloud storage services here, with a generous storage allowance, file sharing, automatic uploads and synchronisation options all available.
Formerly known as SkyDrive, Microsoft launched OneDrive in 2008, as part of their Windows Live suite. File sharing was integrated in 2010, and the name change took place in 2013, as the result of a lawsuit with broadcaster BSkyB. The service has continued to change in subsequent years, responding to changes in the data storage industry, with free plans decreasing from 15GB to 5GB in January 2016.
The service has continued to change in subsequent years, responding to changes in the data storage industry, with free plans decreasing from 15GB to 5GB in January 2016.
Backup and restore options
Automatic and manual uploads
Most major file types supported
Files can be backed up to OneDrive at any time, with both manual and automatic uploads available. Initial file selections can be made during setup, but altered later by selecting ‘Settings’ from the OneDrive icon in the bottom right-hand corner of your desktop taskbar.
You can also manually upload individual files and folders by dragging them into your desktop OneDrive sync folder, or from your online account.
As well as retrieving individual files, OneDrive also lets its users download folders as ZIP files, cutting transfer times – although files cannot exceed 4GB in size.
Which operating systems is it compatible with?
Desktop: Windows, Mac
Mobile: iOS, Android
Although very much a Windows product, OneDrive isn’t limiting its audience – with apps available for Mac and iPhone users as well.
Share files and folders
Generate public links or private invitations via email
Change read/write permissions at any time
File sharing is quick and easy using OneDrive – all you need to do is sign into your online account, select your chosen file or folder, and click the share icon.
From there, you can decide whether you want to generate a public link or share files directly via email – as well as determining read or write access. You can also share files from your desktop sync folder, and use the web dashboard to edit permissions at any time.
Automatically sync selected files/folders to the Cloud
Using OneCloud on your desktop will automatically create a dedicated sync folder, which you can use to manage your uploaded files. Dragging documents to and from the folder will add or remove them from your OneDrive account, and will also make them available to access immediately from any other registered device.
File versioning and deleted file recovery
No file versioning for personal users
Restore deleted files for 30 days after removal
Only OneDrive for Business users will be able to access previous file versions, with no versioning history on offer to personal OneDrive subscribers. However, all synced files deleted from your desktop will be moved to a recycle bin, from where they can be restored for up to 30 days after you remove them.
OneDrive isn’t suitable for long-term storage or freeing up hard drive space, as any files removed from registered computers will be automatically removed from your Cloud storage space.
Backup to local and network devices
Windows users can also backup a copy of their files to a local device or network drive, using the File History feature. Accessible from your computer settings, this process can run offline, creating a secondary backup of your files to a NAS, USB or external hard drive.
Play audio & video files online or from devices via Groove
Backed up audio files can be played in your browser or from any computer, tablet or mobile via Microsoft music player Groove. All you’ll need to do is download the app, or simply open the file from your OneDrive online account – simple! The player isn’t exactly advanced, but it’s easy to use and certainly does the trick.
You can also play .mp4, .mov and .mv4 video files from your browser, although DRM-protected files won’t run. If you want to store videos in other formats as well, never fear – you won’t be able to play them straight from your online backup, but you will be able to store (and later download) them without any problems.
Online viewing and editing
Backed up documents can be edited from your browser using Office online, which supports MS Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint files. Compared to major competitor Google Drive, we found Office online to be somewhat slow and glitchy, but it’s still a very useful tool for editing files on the go, and for reducing the cost of installing MS Office on multiple devices.
In addition to this, uploaded pictures can be viewed in your browser or using Windows Photo Gallery – both of which also allow you to tag friends and locations, and create automatic image slideshows.
Encryption during transfer only
Identity verification apps supported
Data security is fairly thin on the ground with OneDrive, as your files will be transferred using SSL, but not encrypted while at rest. On the plus side, however, it does support uploads of files that have been pre-encrypted, using third party services like Boxcryptor or VeraCrypt. This does make the process somewhat more time consuming, but if you want to capitalise on the free MS Office storage whilst making sure that your files stay private, it’s a very handy solution.
In addition to this, OneDrive also provides multiple options for user-verification, including two-step authentication, security questions, and the ability to provide code-free authentication by using apps including Microsoft account and Google authenticator.
The OneDrive Help Center contains a fair number of guides and tutorials, covering mostly introductory topics in good detail.
For more advanced issues, you can make use of regularly-updated forums, populated by Microsoft employees and subscribers alike.
There are several ways to speak directly to OneDrive staff, including by phone – with the option to request a phone call as soon as possible, or to schedule a call at a convenient time. There are also live chat and email options, making it easy to contact the support team at the time and in the manner of your choosing.
Response time and quality of service
Although we got stuck in a queue that left us waiting 20 minutes for a live chat response, the information that we eventually got was good, and quickly solved a login problem. In conversation, we found staff to be pleasant and knowledgeable, and appreciated them taking some extra time to investigate a particularly knotty problem.
As OneDrive comes pre-installed on all computers running Windows 8.1 or later, getting set up is a breeze for most users.
If you’re running an older OS or use a Mac, however, it’s almost as easy – simply download the app from the Microsoft website or iTunes store, and you’re good to go. Signing up for a free account won’t take long either – just create or enter existing Microsoft account details, set a few basic preferences (including which files you want to upload) and everything’s ready to go.
Using the software
For the most part, OneDrive is pleasantly easy to use, with a simple interface and user-friendly language used throughout.
However, some confusion does come in when navigating between various file locations as, with a sync folder, automated desktop backups, and manual uploads run from the OneDrive user website, it can get a little tricky to keep track of which files are accessible from where.
How to cancel your account
Cancelling a OneDrive account is a somewhat complicated process – especially if you’re using a Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 laptop, as the software is built into the computer, and can’t be removed. So what can you do?
Instead of removing OneDrive altogether, you can choose to hide it, so that it doesn’t run or appear on your laptop – although if you’ve got files backed up, you’ll still be able to access them by logging into the OneDrive website.
There’s also no option to remove all of your stored data and close your account automatically, so unfortunately, you’ll need to do it by hand – deleting all of your folders and then emptying the recycle bin. You’ll also need to change your upload settings so that the software no longer uploads new or changed files from your desktop.
Having done this, you can cancel the auto-renewal of your subscription, which will take your plan back down to the 5GB free allowance – although this itself is there to stay.
This process is not ideal – particularly for those that find the all-encompassing nature of Microsoft’s software invasive – so be prepared for a little hard work if you’re not planning to keep your account open forever.
OneDrive Review Conclusion
- Easy to use
- Great deal for MS Office subscribers
- Good customer support
- Automatic and manual backups
We weren’t too sure about
- Lack of file versioning
- Lack of scheduled backups
- Very limited security
OneDrive is an excellent option for Windows users – designed as it is to provide maximum benefit for loyal Microsoft followers. As a result, there’s a lot of very reasonably-priced storage on offer here for MS Office subscribers – not to mention easy-to-use software, versatile sync and share options and handy added extras like online audio streaming that make full use of other Windows apps.
A lack of encryption is an unfortunate downside, along with the conspicuous absence of features such as synchronised uploads and file versioning – but what OneDrive lacks in features, it goes a long way towards making up for in price and convenience. On the whole, then, an excellent choice for Microsoft enthusiasts looking for a simple and stress-free backup solution.