How Does OneDrive Work And How To Get The Most From The Cloud

How to Use OneDrive and Get the Most from the Cloud


Microsoft’s cloud storage and syncing service are OneDrive. If you have Windows version 10 or later, you have OneDrive directly integrated into your machine, including your file manager, whether you realize it or not.

However, if you want to get more out of this cloud computing mainstay, there’s a little more to learn.

This is how to use OneDrive so you can get the most out of your built-in cloud storage and syncing capabilities.

OneDrive Overview: The Basics

To access OneDrive on your Windows 10 PC, you don’t have to do anything except locate it in your programs and files.

Most users should be able to click “start” and scroll through their programs and apps on the left side of the home screen to find it.

As soon as you click it, however, you’ll notice that a separate application doesn’t open – just a folder that looks like all the other folders within the file manager on your Windows PC.

This folder is special though because anything saved to this location will be backed up and synced to your OneDrive account in the cloud.

How Does OneDrive Work?

OneDrive operates like many other cloud storage and syncing services, including Dropbox and iCloud.

The major difference for Windows users, though, is OneDrive is seamlessly integrated with the Windows desktop experience.

When you add a file to the application, it keeps it safely stored in the cloud until you need it again. If you edit that file, the version in the cloud gets updated, too.

It’s pretty simple, but there’s a lot more. Let’s discuss the major features and how to use OneDrive to its fullest degree.

1. File Sharing

Cloud storage is convenient for sharing files with friends, family, and coworkers because you no longer need to send them large files through email, or mess with compressing large files.

Instead, you can create a link to the OneDrive file or folder you want to share. Friends and family have exclusive access to this link, where they can view your photos or documents, download them, and even edit them if you give them permission.

2. File Syncing While You Work

If you’re an Office user, you’ll find that the cloud is built into all of the apps, too, including Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote, and Outlook.

For example, any time you save a file in any of these applications, the default location is your OneDrive folder. That means it’s easy to work from your home PC and access your files wherever you go, including work and school PCs.

3. Reliable Backups

Of course, saving files in your OneDrive folder also means that they automatically get backed up to the cloud. These copies will be there no matter what – like, for instance, if you spill coffee all over your computer, if your hard drive gets infected with a virus, or even if you lose your device or it gets stolen.

These files are safe in the cloud until you can access them again from a working computer or mobile device.

4. Desktop Backups

Did you know that if you stay signed in to your Microsoft account while using your PC, OneDrive will automatically save your computer settings to the cloud?

This means, should anything ever go wrong, you’ll be able to restore your settings, preferences, and even your desktop background to your computer. Or, if you regularly switch between a desktop and a laptop computer, your experience will be seamless right down to your icon placement and wallpaper.

5. On-Demand File Management and Uploads

You don’t have to be connected to the internet to access all your files and folders stored in the cloud. OneDrive calls this “files on-demand.” This feature became available via an October 2017 Windows update called the Fall Creators Update.”

Basically, it works like this:

When you’re viewing your OneDrive folder on your computer, you’ll be able to see ALL the files you have stored in the cloud, even the ones you haven’t downloaded to your computer.

The application accomplishes this by downloading tiny bits of data about each file in the cloud – just enough to show you what the file is, its name, and its type. If you want to view it, all you have to do is double-click it, and it will quickly download from the cloud.

If you make any changes, the file will update in OneDrive. Then, when you’re finished with the file, the application will remove it from your local hard drive (except for the tiny bit of file information needed so you know it exists) but keep the copy in the cloud-ready for the next time you need it, or until you decide to download it for keeps.

So, how do you know which files are in the cloud and which files are also stored on your hard drive?

The application now includes small icons next to each file name that gives you this information. For instance, files that are stored in the cloud will have a small cloud icon next to them. On the other hand, files stored in the cloud AND on your PC will have a small green checkmark icon next to them.

You can also designate which files are always available offline and which ones are only available with an internet connection. You can free up a lot of disk space if you designate files you rarely access as the latter type.

OneDrive Pricing, Upgrades, And Storage Limits

Most Windows 10 users have a free OneDrive account that comes with 5 GB of storage space. For many people, this is more than enough to store their documents, photos, and important files.

However, if you need more space, there are a few options available to upgrade:

1. Extra OneDrive Storage Only

If you are looking for extra storage for backing up your files and folders and want no extra bells and whistles, you can upgrade to the “OneDrive Only” option.

This upgrade gets you 50 GB of total storage space for $1.99 per month.

2. OneDrive with Office 365 Home

If you’re a Microsoft Office user and like to use the Office apps in tandem with OneDrive (like Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and OneNote), you can upgrade to an Office 365 Home account with Premium OneDrive access.

This option includes 1 TB of storage space per person (5 TB total) along with the newest, updated versions of Word and the other Office apps. It’s all bundled together for $99.99 per year.

3. OneDrive with Office 365 Personal

If you don’t need storage for multiple people, you can opt for Office 365 Personal with Premium OneDrive access.

For $69.99 per year, you get 1 TB of cloud storage, advanced security features, and updated versions of all the Office apps for PC and Mac.

How To Use OneDrive To Sync And Backup Important Files

Here’s how to use OneDrive to upload and access your files from any device:

1. From your computer, upload files, documents, and photos to OneDrive by dragging them onto the OneDrive folder. You can also visit, log in with your Microsoft account, and upload files to the cloud by dragging them onto the OneDrive browser window.

2. From your mobile device, smartphone, or tablet, download the OneDrive app and use it to save photos, videos, and other files to the cloud. You can also set the app to save all pictures you take on your phone automatically.

3. From any computer with internet access, you can log into your OneDrive account and access all of your files.

4. Keep the application on all your devices to seamlessly work on all of your files without having to email yourself data, use external hard drives, or mess with USB drives.

Learn How To Use OneDrive To Get The Most Out Of Your Windows PC

Undoubtedly, if you use a Windows 10 PC, you need to learn how to use OneDrive.

This application is already seamlessly integrated into the Windows 10 operation system, including default file-saving in Office apps and cohesive unity with the native file manager. It’s a breeze to use, too, so it would be silly not to take advantage of its features.

Once you get the hang of using the cloud to store, sync, and backup your important data, you’ll never go back. So, learn how to use OneDrive and make your life that much easier.

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