What Is OneDrive and How Does It Work?

What to know about Microsoft's cloud storage service

OneDrive is a cloud storage service from Microsoft. It comes with the Microsoft 365 suite of software, or you can get a free standalone account. You can save files, including photos, music, and video, to your account, access them on multiple devices, and share them with others. 

Is OneDrive Free?

OneDrive offers 5 GB of storage for free and paid plans starting at $1.99 per month for 100 GB. Microsoft also offers 1 TB of storage for Microsoft 365 Personal ($69.99 per year) customers and 6 TB for Microsoft 365 Family ($99.99 per year) users. (1 TB each for six family members.)

You can save Excel, and other Office files to your account in addition to photos, videos, music, and other media.

What Does a Microsoft OneDrive Account Require?

OneDrive requires a Microsoft account, which you can get via Hotmail and Outlook email, Skype, and the Xbox network. You can use OneDrive in a web browser or the app on Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, Windows and Mac computers, and Xbox consoles.

Windows 10 comes with OneDrive pre-installed, and there's also a Windows 10 OneDrive app available in the Microsoft Store app store.

OneDrive Features

OneDrive works similarly to its competitors in the cloud storage space. These are the main features to know about:

  • Backups: All the files you save in OneDrive are in the cloud, so if you lose or damage a device or it stops working, you won't lose access. 
  • Sharing: You can share files, folders, and photos with others rather than sending emails or using a USB drive. You can send a link to the files by email or text.
  • Document scanning: You can scan documents, receipts, business cards, and other types of paperwork and media from your mobile device right to OneDrive. 
  • Personal Vault: Protect sensitive files with a PIN, fingerprint, face, or a code sent by email or text. You can also use the Microsoft Authenticator to lock files. (The Microsoft Authenticator is easy to set up.) And you can scan files from your mobile device and save them to your vault. The vault uses Bitlocker encryption, and your account automatically locks when you haven't been active for a specific amount of time.
  • Automatic photo uploads: You can set the OneDrive mobile app to save photos and videos to your account automatically.
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