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What is OneDrive and how it works

Microsoft OneDrive is a file hosting and management service in the cloud, exclusively for Microsoft users. This service is part of the Office suite. In addition, it is responsible for performing management and storage functions on the web. Additionally, it allows users to upload and edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. to the Microsoft cloud. It is also possible to synchronize local storage with cloud storage. Although it is an exclusive service for Microsoft users, the software that constitutes it is compatible with any web browser. Although it is an exclusive service for Microsoft users, the software that constitutes it is compatible with any web browser. Likewise, it is compatible with the main Operating Systems used today, i.e., macOS, Android, iOS. This service was launched in August 2007 by Microsoft. As a result, it has had different names throughout its development: SkyDrive, Microsoft SkyDrive, Windows Live SkyDrive y Windows Live Folders. 

OneDrive Features

Today, OneDrive is one of the high-end services in the cloud storage services market. Indeed, it possesses remarkable features that Microsoft has been working on for twelve years. Let’s take a look at some main features:

  • It offers its users Microsoft Office suite tools through Office Online. So they can create, edit and share documents, spreadsheets, slides, and others within the web browser. It has online versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.
  • It allows up to 5 files to be uploaded simultaneously with any web browser. In addition, it makes it possible to install ActiveX tools. Consequently, it allows users to upload an unlimited number of files from Windows Explorer.
  • It enables users to share hyperlinks and provides a cloud folder to store as many as desired.
  • It is associated with other web services to operate fully. In this way, it can address different user requirements in addition to document creation and editing. Thus, in addition to interoperating with Outlook and Skype, it is associated with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to allow its users to share their work on social networks. Similarly, it has links to Bing to provide users with a search history in the main menu.
  • Its free version offers 5 GB of storage. On the other hand, the paid versions offer 50 GB, 100 GB, 200 GB, 1 Tb and 6 Tb storage.
  • It enables subscription to RSS, feeds of the content of public folders. These generate preview images of the added files, as a thumbnail or icon of the file type.

Additional features

  • Allows the download of complete folders in the form of compressed files in ZIP format.
  • The download limit for a single file is 15 GB. On the other hand, for downloading a set, the limit is 20 GB.
  • It implements a recycling bin. It takes care of storing the files deleted by users during a given interval of time. Consequently, it keeps them in a storage space outside the user’s available space in the cloud.
  • It allows viewing PDF and ODF (Open Document Format) files. The latter is an XML (Extensible Markup Language) based file that is supported by many word processing applications.
  • It allows its users to upload photos. Therefore, it is possible for other users to view them via web browsers. Generally, the photos are downloaded from Windows Photo Gallery or directly as ZIP files. It uses a geolocation data system to update users’ multimedia files.
  • It has a client that performs as an application on devices with Android, iOS, Windows 8, Windows 10 and Windows 11 Operating Systems. Currently, this application is a UWP (Universal Windows Platform) that merges the functions of the app version and the web version.
  • All files stored in the OneDrive cloud are monitored by Microsoft. Therefore, any violation of the accepted code of conduct will result in permanent or temporary account suspension. In addition, this service provides a “Personal Vault”, a folder with additional security for storing sensitive files.

How it works

The basic architecture of OneDrive is a client-server network. The application installed on the device acts as an intermediary between the cloud servers and the Microsoft user. Like any service of this nature, it has a web version that eliminates the client’s intermediary and leads the user directly to the virtual hosting of his files.

Thanks to the linkage with the Outlook account, the web version of OneDrive is able to upload any file or folder from the local disk without the need for synchronizations between devices. It also allows you to create any document, spreadsheet, and slide. In this sense it differs from the client application that is installed on the devices, dependent on synchronization between devices. Through the same mechanism, it is able to keep track of activities, providing different options in the initial menu.

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The web version of Outlook allows users to access it from devices with operating systems incompatible with the client. However, this action depends on the Internet connection. Therefore, the web version of the application proves to be much more practical and efficient for users, especially if it is a UWP.

How to use OneDrive

The main requirement to make use of OneDrive features is to register as a Microsoft user. As you might guess, this involves simply creating an account in Outlook. With this done, you will be able to directly access the OneDrive website. From there you will be able to upload, create, edit and share files. The following is a step-by-step description of the basic OneDrive actions.

Uploading a file

  • Access the main menu of the OneDrive user account. Once there, click on Upload. All this, from the official OneDrive page.
  • A small menu with the options Files and Folder will be displayed. Select the Files option. If you want to upload a set of files contained in a particular folder, select the other option.
  • A local disk storage window will then pop up to select the file(s) to be uploaded to the cloud.
  • OneDrive will notify that files are being uploaded with a message in the top bar.
  • To open the documents, just click on their icon in the menu and OneDrive will refresh the portal to show the pages of the file.
  • If you want to copy the file from the main My files menu to a folder, click the Copy to button on the top bar. You can select the folder that will also contain the document.
  • Also, taking advantage of this drop-down menu, you can create a new folder to contain the document by clicking New Folder.
  • Type the name of the new folder and click Create. Then select the folder you have created.
  • Alternatively, functions such as copy, move and delete can be applied from the main My Files menu by selecting the white circle in the upper corner of the file or files to be modified.
  • If you wish to upload files directly to the desired folder, simply access the cloud folder and click the Upload button, repeating the first four steps described above.

How to share files

  • Select the file, or files, you want to share to update the top bar of the main My Files menu and press the Share button on the bar.
  • Type the name(s) of the recipient(s) or their e-mail address in the text box and press the blue Send button. If desired, omit typing a descriptive message.
  • If you want to create a hyperlink to the files, click on the gray circle of the Copy link option.
  • Click the Copy button to share the hyperlink to the files directly to the recipients via instant messaging applications, or any other tool.
  • To set restrictions on editing and viewing of the hyperlink, click the lower box containing Anyone who has the link can edit.
  • Finalize the settings by clicking Apply and distribute the link to the target users.

How to create a document

  • Go back to the My Files main menu and click on the New button in the top bar.
  • Select the type of Office document, whether it is a Word document, an Excel spreadsheet or a PowerPoint presentation, etc.
  • The user will be redirected to a new tab consisting of the Office portal of the chosen document. In this case, a Word doc has been chosen, so the essential Office interface for creating and editing the document is displayed.
  • The document name can be changed by clicking on the Document1 – Saved to OneDrive button located in the upper blue bar.

Finally, the document remains in My Files. From there, we can modify or delete it at any time. Ultimately, we have seen that it is Microsoft OneDrive. We also learned how it works. Additionally, we saw how to use it. Bye!

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