Microsoft’s OneDrive keeps on getting better and it does more than simply provide online storage space. Roland Waddilove shows how to make the most of your free storage, share files and access other PCs. See also: 7 best cloud storage services of 2014
Microsoft wasn’t the first to get into cloud storage, but it has steadily improved OneDrive, formerly known as SkyDrive, and the service is now excellent. With 15GB of online storage for free and more that can be earned in various ways, it has become a valuable tool.
Mobile apps for Android and iPhone can upload your photos and access your online files, and you can share files and folders with friends and co-workers. OneDrive goes further than simply storing and sharing files and you can choose whether they are stored on the PC's disk or online. You can also access the disk drive of any PC you own, which is great if you have left a file on another PC and need to access it. You can even edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files - just click the Create menu in a browser at the OneDrive.com website.
OneDrive is built into Windows 8, but you can install it if you have Windows 7 or Vista (32-bit or 64-bit). (See also: Recover deleted files for free: recover lost data.)
How to use OneDrive
Step 1. When installing the app in Windows 7, you can choose which folders to sync. A synced folder means that it is stored both online and on your PC. Files on the PC can be accessed offline, but you must be online to access other files.
Step 2. Here is OneDrive in Explorer in Windows 8.1. The Availability column tells you whether the files/folders are online or offline. Right click a folder or the whole OneDrive and you can choose to switch from online to offline, or offline to online.
Step 3. In Windows 8, go to the charms on the right, Settings, Change PC settings, OneDrive. Do you want to upload photos transferred from a digital camera? What quality setting should be used? Choose the best quality if there’s enough space.
Step 4. When OneDrive is run on a phone, there is an option to back up photos. Agree and you will get an extra 3GB of online storage space in addition to the 15GB you get for free. It’s an easy way to transfer photos to your PC.
Step 5. Sharing files must be done online, so go to onedrive.com and log in. The Public folder is created by default and it is designed for sharing files. Copy or move a file to the folder, such as a photo, using the Manage menu options.
Step 6. Select a file in the Public folder and click Share at the top. There are options to invite people, get a link, or publish to Facebook. We will use Get a link. You can choose whether people can view the file or edit it. It’s your choice.
Step 7. The link has been created, but it is long and complicated. Click the option to shorten it and press Ctrl+C afterwards to copy it to the clipboard. It can then be pasted in an email, on a blog or sent via an instant message.
Step 8. To stop sharing a file, select it and use the Manage menu to move it out of the Public folder. If you right click it and select Properties, the panel on the right shows that now only you can access it in the Sharing section.
Step 9. Through PCs on the left, you can access the disk drive of any PC you own running OneDrive. This is Chrome on a Windows 8 PC accessing the Pictures folder on an Apple Mac running Windows 7 in Bootcamp.
Step 10. To check whether there are any problems syncing files, click the icon at the right side of the taskbar. Click ‘View sync problems’ and a new window appears that enables you to sync again or try to resolve the problem.
Step 11. OneDrive can do more than you think. Install IFTT (If This Then That) on your mobile phone and create rules like, if someone tags me in a photo on Facebook, copy the photo and store it on OneDrive. That’s clever.