What Is OneDrive?

Microsoft's storage option is pretty helpful. Here's what you need to know



OneDrive is a free, secure, online storage space where you can save data that you create or acquire. You can securely store personal data like tax returns or photos, as well as business documents like presentations and spreadsheets. You can even save media, including music and videos.

Because OneDrive is online and in the cloud, the data you store there is available to you around clock, no matter where you are, and from almost any internet-connected device. All you need is a compatible web browser or the OneDrive app, a personal OneDrive storage area, and a Microsoft Account, all of which are free.

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How to Get Microsoft OneDrive on Windows

A screen shot of the OneDrive app available from the Microsoft Store

Microsoft OneDrive is available from File Explorer in all Windows 8.1- and Windows 10-installed computers. You save to OneDrive just like you’d save to any built-in folder (like Documents, Pictures, or Videos) by manually selecting it in the Save As dialog box. OneDrive is also integrated into Microsoft Office 2013, Microsoft Office 2016, and Microsoft 365, and you can opt to save there while using those applications as well.

The OneDrive app is available for Microsoft Surface tablets, Xbox One consoles, and newer Windows Mobile devices. You can also use it on Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 computers. To get the app on your computer, tablet, or Windows Mobile device, simply visit the Microsoft Store.

If you want to save to OneDrive by default you can make it so by tweaking a few OneDrive settings in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. It’s probably best for now to use the OneDrive app, at least until your computer is updated to support One-Demand Sync.

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Get Microsoft OneDrive for Other Devices

OneDrive on an iPhone

There’s a OneDrive app for almost any other device you own. There's one for Kindle Fire and Kindle Phone, Android tablets, computers, and phones, iOS devices, and the Mac.

If you can’t find an app for your device though, you can still use OneDrive because the files you save there can be accessed from the Internet through any web browser. Just open your web browser and navigate to onedrive.live.com.

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Ways to Use Microsoft OneDrive

Using Microsoft OneDrive on computer

OneDrive is, in essence, an extra hard drive that you can access from anywhere. On a PC, it is available in File Explorer and looks and acts like any local folder. Online, all synced files are available from anywhere.

OneDrive offers 5 GB of free, storage space, which is available once you sign up for a Microsoft account. Although many people only use OneDrive to backup important data in case their computer fails, others use it solely to access their data when they are away from their computers.

With OneDrive cloud storage you can:

  • Sync your Windows Desktop to the cloud.
  • Share files with others using a web link you can paste into an email or text and allow users to edit if you desire.
  • Manage your music.
  • Edit compatible files on your smart phone so that you can make changes on the go.
  • Automatically upload photos.
  • Keep data in sync across devices; changes you make are applied instantly.

Before Microsoft rebranded their online cloud storage space, once called Microsoft SkyDrive to Microsoft OneDrive in 2014.

OneDrive offers more storage space if you are willing to pay. An extra 50 GB is around $2.00/month.