What is OneDrive and how can you benefit from using it?

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OneDrive is the new name for Microsoft’s online storage offering that up until now has been known as SkyDrive. According to Microsoft, the new name “OneDrive” better aligns with the vision of having everything in one place. The new name is being rolled out globally, however, you will still see the old name “SkyDrive” here and there until all applications have been updated with the new name.  If you aren’t already using OneDrive (SkyDrive) I warmly recommend you start. It’s a free service and it’s much more than just “free storage.” In this week’s GetSharp blog article I’ll share with you a number of ways you can benefit from using OneDrive.

1. Automatically save a backup copy of your files

First and foremost, OneDrive helps you sleep better at night because you don’t have to worry about losing all your documents due to a hard disk failure or computer theft (which unfortunately happens when you least expect it). If you download the OneDrive app to your computer (PC or Mac), the documents, pictures, videos, and everything else you save into your OneDrive folders will automatically be synchronized to “the cloud”. In other words, your documents will be saved on servers in a secure data center managed by Microsoft. You don’t have to worry about hard drive crashes or your house catching on fire – your files are safe! The beauty with OneDrive is that you can use it to back up files from all your devices – OneDrive is available for iPhones, Android phones and Windows Phones, iPads, Android tablets and Windows tablets, Windows PCs and Macs. By default, you get 5 Gb of free storage, if you want to extend that you can purchase additional capacity.

What is OneDrive and how can you benefit from using it

 2. Access your files from anywhere

By having a copy of your files available on the Internet, all you need is your Microsoft Account login name and your password to access them from anywhere – on any device. As long as you have an Internet connection and a device with a browser you are good to go.  Imagine that you are visiting a customer to do a presentation but your computer doesn’t start. No need to worry, just borrow a computer from anyone in the room, open up a web browser and log in to your OneDrive account. Now you can access the presentation from there!

3. Easily switch between different devices

In addition to saving your files to OneDrive, you can also use OneDrive (still called SkyDrive in Windows) to save your Windows 8 computer settings so that you can easily switch between different devices.  I have a huge, heavy laptop with Windows 8.1 that I use as my main work computer to do video production. Whenever I’m out and about I use a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 which is really light and handy. Whether I log in to my heavy laptop or my Surface, the experience is the same.  I have access to my Internet favorites, my login screen, my Start Page layout with all my tiles and apps. No time is lost, I can immediately get to work where I last left off!

What is OneDrive and how can you benefit from using it

 4. Share files with whomever you want – whenever you want

OneDrive makes it really easy to share documents, pictures and videos with others – on your terms. You decide who gets to access the files and what they can do with them – either just view them or if you allow others to edit them. At any point in time, you can revoke access by turning off the sharing. Whether you want to share pictures from your mobile phone with your family, or you want to share documents with vendors – you just select the folder and click “Share” and enter the email address of the people you want to share with. There are no requirements for the people you want to share with, they only need to have the sharing link to access the files (unless you want to increase security by requiring them to log in with a Microsoft account).

What is OneDrive and how can you benefit from using it

5. Free access to Office Online

Another huge benefit of using OneDrive is that you get access to Office Online, free of charge on any device. This means that you can use web-based versions of Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook without paying for a license. The online versions are extremely rich in functionality and most of the editing you need to accomplish can be done through the browser. Even though I wouldn’t recommend it for everyday use, it’s perfect if you need to work on your documents on a device where you don’t have the full Microsoft Office desktop version installed. It also enables you to share and collaborate on documents in real-time with other people who might (or might not have) Microsoft Office.

What is OneDrive and how can you benefit from using it

Don’t wait until it’s too late

In today’s world where such a big part of our lives is digital, you owe it to yourself to have a proper backup of your data. Often, the backup of your work files are taken care of by your organization, but what about all your private documents and pictures? In order for backups to be really effective, the process needs to be seamless and automatic. There should be no extra effort on your part to keep your files backed up. Setting up OneDrive takes a bit of effort initially when you need to set up your account, download the application and synchronize your files to OneDrive. But once that is done, the backup of your files is automatic. So do yourself a favor and make sure your data is properly backed up – don’t wait until it’s too late!

(If you have difficulties reading this article, you can access the full article in pdf here)