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A Beginner’s Guide to Microsoft OneDrive

A Beginner’s Guide to Microsoft OneDrive

Dwight Pavlovic
Reading time: 10 minutes
While it’s part of the Microsoft Office 365 suite, Microsoft OneDrive is also an important stand alone program that provides users with a dynamic online storage solution. For users with Windows 10, the software is already loaded on your device and nearly ready to use right out of the box. Once you’ve booted up your computer, you’ll be good to go after a simple configuration.
Switching over from your own hardware to the cloud may seem daunting, but there are plenty of benefits you get from embracing local and cloud storage. In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide for first-time OneDrive users. You’ll find info on setup and registration, as well as a breakdown of important features and advantages. We’ll close out by focusing on a few important external resources and support topics.

How to use OneDrive effectively

For those who aren’t deeply familiar with the latest Microsoft Office programs or cloud applications in general, you may be wondering “what does OneDrive do?” The answer is simple.

What is OneDrive?

OneDrive provides cloud storage and synchronization. Different types of large media, work files or folders, research materials, and more are all good candidates for this kind of storage. Also, OneDrive is available as stand alone software with both free and paid versions, or you can get it as part of an Office 365 subscription.

What is cloud storage?

Cloud storage is a web-based storage option that shifts the burden of storing large files or maintaining long-term archives away from your local hardware. It also removes some of the pressure to depend on secondary devices like external drives and thumb drives.

What is synchronization?

Synchronization is when your web-based data and files update and align with your local versions. With an actively maintained storage/synchronization service, you can access your data and files across a variety of devices. When storing a document in the cloud, you or members of your team can call it up and revise it with different devices, and all changes are automatically saved.
Syncing files makes those files more accessible via Microsoft online storage. OneDrive is compatible with numerous smartphones, computers, and even gaming consoles, which makes it useful for teamwork applications.

Key benefits of synchronized storage

When you have to work on different devices and find yourself moving from a laptop to a smartphone to a tablet, accessibility is crucial. And OneDrive can make that happen. Plus, it’s really useful for collaboration, because it streamlines access and saves users time when it comes to complex or media-heavy projects.
Stability is another advantage of a shared hub for data, providing a backup that protects your files against the unexpected.

Getting started with a new OneDrive account

Setup and configuration won’t take long at all. Getting started is simple, made even more so because the experience closely resembles the standard Windows features and services.

Log in using your Microsoft account

If you’re already a Windows user, you should have login credentials. And just like with other Microsoft services, you can access OneDrive using your Microsoft account. The same goes for those who own an Xbox console or who have an existing account through Hotmail, Outlook, or Skype, since these all use the same Microsoft master login.
You can find OneDrive on your device, but it’s easier to get started directly through the Office signup/login portal. Sign in using your Microsoft account and you should have access to the OneDrive interface with fields for documents, emails, music, and more.

How to handle access issues

If one or more of these links or instructions isn’t working as described, you may be experiencing a server issue or problems with your internet service provider (ISP). Check your connection or see if there are any outage reports if you have difficulty accessing OneDrive. For other routine problems or issues with accessibility, support is available 24/7.

The best OneDrive features

In this section, we’ll take a deeper look at some of the standout OneDrive features. And for users with a lot of personal tech, you’ll find that it’s more than just a place for your files in the cloud. There are extra layers of manageability, plus new ways to remotely access your files.

1. Upload and retrieve files

Basic file management is at the core of OneDrive’s functionality. Uploading a document or media file is as simple as moving it to another folder. Simply select whatever you’d like to upload and move it to your OneDrive tab, located in the left sidebar of File Explorer.
For users with high file traffic or limited local storage, simple storage functionality will be your bread and butter. Keep only the files you need on your device and save the rest to the cloud to help extend the life of your device and improve your daily user experience.

2. Manage file sync and status

File synchronization allows users to access and edit files from more than one device. That means OneDrive users can access files and make changes from other internet-connected devices.
Your account setup will make for an easy sync process, but you can also manage which folders to synchronize by adjusting your account settings. This goes for any offline changes you make too, because they’ll update once you have an internet connection. With sync, it’s much easier to work around the consequences of power outages or time away from internet access.

3. Smooth and seamless file sharing

Easy file-sharing is another important OneDrive feature. For those working within a group, this is the most convenient way to circulate documents or media files, demo test graphics, or edit a shared document.
Once you’ve logged into your OneDrive account, you can quickly check your shared files at once via the left sidebar in your main interface. You can also easily adjust share settings by selecting the desired file and then clicking the Share icon from the same interface. Here you can toggle who has access, send a link to your contacts, or copy a link to share directly.

4. Add storage capacity

All OneDrive users start out with access to the perks of a free account, including up to 5GB of storage. While that’s a nice freebie, you may want more capacity to support larger files and long-term storage.
In addition to a free OneDrive account, you can subscribe for $1.99 per month and receive up to 100GB of cloud storage space. To dramatically increase storage space and functionality, you can also make the leap to a dedicated Home or Personal Office 365 subscription. These options have a bigger price tag, but you’ll find a much higher ceiling for storage and access to a ton of new apps and services.
Not sure what you want? Check out all your potential OneDrive and Office 365 pricing plans first, and don’t forget to click the For Business tab to check out enterprise options.

Advantages of using OneDrive

Start out with free storage

Want to avoid the recurring costs that come with a full-fledge Office subscription? For users on a budget or who need short-term storage on a project-to-project basis, OneDrive’s free 5GBs of storage is a great place to start.
It may not have room for complex graphics applications, but a free account offers plenty of space to support document sharing, collaboration, and basic media files. For small-scale users who actively manage their files and clear out redundant media, it’s possible to get by with just a free account or even the affordable 100GB option.

Conserve local storage space and cut out peripherals

Shifting storage away from your computer’s built-in drives has several advantages. Cloud storage can help reduce wear and lag on your device. It can also reduce the cost and size of the device you need when you’re buying it.
Easily accessible cloud storage helps cut back on your dependency on peripheral devices like thumb drives or external hard drives. This can be a big plus for those who crave the best mobility and organization, especially if you commute for work and don’t want to lug around an external HDD anymore. Read more about Saving Hard Drive Space by Using Cloud Storage in our HP Tech Takes article.

Seamless experience for Windows users

OneDrive also offers a big advantage for current Windows users, providing an interface and system that thoroughly integrates with the software you already use. If you work on Windows or Microsoft devices, the transition is minimal and offers a big advantage in terms of accessibility.
Do you own an Xbox console? OneDrive even works with older consoles like the Xbox 360, as well as the current generation Xbox One. Coupled with a conventional TV and console setup, OneDrive is a great way for Xbox gamers to access videos and music directly from their system without uploads or transfers.

Where to learn more about the cloud

Do you consider yourself a beginner when it comes to using the cloud for more complex applications? In that case, you’ll definitely want to check out some of the HP Tech Takes article Top Ways Companies are Using Cloud Software Today. In this article, we provide a thorough introduction to some of the most versatile and accessible uses for different cloud functions. You’ll find plenty of specific suggestions and even a rundown of situations where it might be less useful.

How to install OneDrive for Business on Windows 10

It’s important to remember that OneDrive for Business is not entirely the same as a typical Microsoft OneDrive account. The standard edition focuses on subscription services for individual users. OneDrive for Business is based on an organizational license through a business, school, or other institution with its own unique functionality and management options.
The names may give the impression that you’re dealing with essentially the same service, but they actually tie back to completely different software. OneDrive for Business is a piece of the larger Office 365 suite, replacing a series of older applications designed for larger office settings. For individual users, OneDrive is based out of the latest Microsoft Office Online suite.
To get started with OneDrive for Business, all you have to do is connect using the sync app and enter your credentials. Employers are encouraged to preload the software on their employee’s devices to make the sync process as straightforward as possible.
Want to learn more about OneDrive for Business? You can check pricing and see plan options at the OneDrive for Business site, or you can look through the more rigorous tips for deploying OneDrive for enterprise solutions at Microsoft Support. There are options tailored to remote work as well as premium packages that offer more dynamic threat protection.

How to use the OneDrive app from your smartphone

OneDrive allows users to access their accounts from iOS and Android phones. All you need is the right app for your operating system and you’re ready to go with just about any smartphone or tablet you may have. That means you can easily stream a variety of stored media from your device.
To check out app specifications and install OneDrive software, visit the Apple Store or Google Play and simply search for Microsoft OneDrive. While the mobile interface is different from the desktop platform, you can still access most of the same functionality.

More support from Microsoft

If you’re having trouble using your OneDrive account, Microsoft Office offers a comprehensive support portal. From there you can contact technical support or check out a variety of different topics arranged by feature. To address a new or persistent problem, you can skip ahead to the troubleshooting section.
They also offer a helpful series of video tutorials for the most critical topics, including getting started with Personal and Business accounts, file management, and sharing.

In conclusion

Though OneDrive delivers the biggest advantage to Windows and Microsoft users, it offers plenty of advantages for personal users and small businesses alike. Whether you’re primarily concerned with storage and accessibility, or focus on sharing and collaboration, there are benefits you’ll love.
OneDrive offers similar features and scalability when compared to alternatives like Google Drive. Pricing is also similar, with a range of monthly and annual options and a high-capacity Home plan that favors families. Hopefully, our guide can provide new users with a clearer picture of how OneDrive can positively impact your routine, whichever plan you choose.

About the Author

Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.

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