OneDrive for Business Review
OneDrive for Business is a good, affordable EFSS option for SMBs that want full Office Online integration yet don't want to pay too much. Check out our full OneDrive Business review for all the details.
Microsoft has been producing popular software for decades, including productivity software for business owners. This trend has continued, and with its OneDrive for Business service, Microsoft has decided to take a piece of the cloud market aimed at business users. In this OneDrive for Business review, we’re going to analyze it and tell you why it’s one of the best EFSS providers.
OneDrive for Business, like the consumer version (which you can read about in our OneDrive review), comes integrated with Office Online, which makes it one of the best services for improving online collaboration. On top of this, it’s incredibly affordable, which has been a welcome trend in Microsoft productivity software in recent years.
There are several drawbacks, though. It lacks email support, reports don’t work properly, search in the web client is buggy and the desktop client doesn’t work on Linux. Additionally, there’s no block-level sync, but that’s the trend with EFSS tools.
Stick with us to learn more about the upsides and downsides, which will help you decide if it’s the most suitable cloud storage tool for your business needs.
- Office Online
- Separate storage space for users
- Fast sync for Microsoft Office Docs
- A vast library of native & third-party apps
- Enjoyable user experience
- Selective sync
- Sync blocking
- No email support
- No block-level sync for all files
- No Linux support
- Bugged web client search
- Reports don’t work properly
- Not easy to access the support portal
- OneDrive for Business
- Shared Folders
- Google Docs Integration
- Visit OneDrive for BusinessOneDrive for Business Review
- Dropbox Business
- Shared Folders
- Google Docs Integration
- Visit Dropbox BusinessDropbox Business Review
OneDrive for Business offers seven plans you can choose from, so you won’t suffer from poor plan flexibility. That said, finding the right plan might be difficult because Microsoft has separate sets of pricing for OneDrive for Business and Office 365 Business plans.
The OneDrive for Business page shows a plan called Office 365 Business Premium, which costs $150 per year and provides Office 365. However, there’s a slightly cheaper enterprise plan, Office 365 ProPlus, that includes Office 365 but doesn’t include business-class email hosting, Exchange, SharePoint, Microsoft Teams and Yammer.
|OneDrive for Business Plan One|
1-year plan $ 5.00/ month
$60.00 billed every year
|OneDrive for Business Plan Two|
1-year plan $ 10.00/ month
$120.00 billed every year
|Office 365 Business Premium|
1-year plan $ 12.50/ month
$150.00 billed every year
Save 17 %
|Office 365 ProPlus|
1-year plan $ 12.00/ month
$144.00 billed every year
|Office 365 E1|
1-year plan $ 7.17/ month
$86.00 billed every year
|Office 365 E3|
1-year plan $ 20.00/ month
$240.00 billed every year
|Office 365 E5|
1-year plan $ 35.00/ month
$420.00 billed every year
OneDrive for Business Pricing
OneDrive for Business Plan One and Two require that you pay per year. The former is $60 per year and gets you 1TB of storage space per user. Plus, it also lets you upload files up to 15GB in size, as well as create and edit Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote documents using Office Online.
Plan Two is $120 per year, and it provides all the benefits of the first plan, along with advanced data-loss prevention and unlimited storage space.
The Office 365 Business Premium plan gets you 1TB per user, but includes everything from the previous plans and adds Office 365 and other Microsoft applications, such as Exchange, SharePoint, Teams and Yammer.
Plus, it gets you business-class email hosting, desktop versions of office applications, one license support for up to five computers, five phones and five tablets per license and unlimited HD video conferencing meetings for up to 250 people. Plus, you can have up to 300 users. It’s $15.00 per month per user, or $150 if you choose to pay for a year in advance.
If you only need Office 365, without additional apps and business email hosting, you can save a bit by subscribing to the Office 365 ProPlus plan for $144 per year per user. It also provides 1TB of OneDrive EFSS storage per user, and you can have unlimited users (like all the following plans).
However, if you don’t need Office 365 but do need apps, such as Teams and Yammer, and email hosting with a custom email address, you can go with the Office 365 E1 plan, which is $86 per year per user. That plan also gets you 1TB of OneDrive EFSS storage per user and up to 50GB in mailbox space.
The Office 365 E3 plan combines what both previous plans provide, raises the mailbox space to 100GB, and provides desktop versions of the Office applications. It also offers eDiscovery, which helps deliver information used for legal cases and provides the ability to define manual classifications and manual retention-and-deletion policies.
The last plan, Office 365 E5, adds advanced security, analytics and voice capabilities to the features of the previous plan.
It also includes Office 365 cloud app security; audio conferencing; auto-classification, smart import and more with Advanced Data Governance; and advanced personal and organizational analytics with MyAnalytics. All that will set you back for $420 per year per user.
OneDrive for Business Limitation
Unlimited storage on any plan requires that you have five or more users. Otherwise, it defaults to 1TB per user. If you have five or more users, you initially get 1TB per user, but admins can raise that to 5TB per user.
After you use that up, you need to request additional storage by contacting Microsoft support. You can get up to 25TB per user of storage space for OneDrive for Business. Beyond that, you can get 25TB of additional storage through SharePoint team sites for individual users. That’s not true unlimited storage, but at least Microsoft is upfront about it.
OneDrive for Business is generally cheaper than most of the competition, and its users get their own separate storage allotment. That’s huge, considering that with many other services, including Dropbox, users share space. That said, higher-priced plans include Office 365, so their value will depend on how much you need the Office bundle of apps.
Even though OneDrive is a Microsoft service, it’s available for Windows and macOS, which enables your employees to use a device they prefer. It comes as no surprise, though, that it doesn’t support Linux.
After you install the desktop client, OneDrive creates a special sync folder. Files you place in this folder will be stored both on your hard drive and in the cloud. This enables you to sync files in near real-time across devices, whether those belong to you or your teammates. We’ll talk more about sync in a section below.
In addition to the sync folder, the desktop client consists of a system tray icon. When you click this icon, an attractive and clear window will appear above it. The window shows your recent files and lets you access setting, open the sync folder and launch the web client.
OneDrive for Business Web Client
The OneDrive web client is intuitive and enjoyable because there’s plenty of negative space and the color scheme makes it easy to spot what you need.
The left-side menu enables you to navigate through the app, while the search bar above it helps you quickly find the data you need. That is, if it worked properly. For us, the search displayed no results during the first several hours of use.
Above the search, you can access your Microsoft library of apps. The center pane shows your files in a list view. You can choose to sort files differently or show them in “compact” or “grid” views.
There’s also a link below the navigation menu called “OneDrive admin,” which lets you access user management, billing, support and similar options.
If you need to perform actions on files or folders, you can right-click them, hover over them and click the three dots that appear, or select a file or folder and use the actions above the center pane. We like this versatile approach to performing actions. Additionally, the top-right corner lets you access settings and manage your account.
OneDrive for Business Apps
The mobile experience is as enjoyable as the web experience, and the mobile client is even easier to use. The client shows your files by default, and you only need to tap the “plus” button to upload files, scan a document, snap and add a photo, and create a folder, Word or PowerPoint document. You can navigate the app using the bottom bar.
Before you can use OneDrive to collaborate with others, you need to add users from within the OneDrive admin center.
The admin center provides you with interface cards, which you can order and manage according to your preferences. You can move or delete existing cards, or add new ones. The entire set of cards is as follows:
- Office 365 software: lets you install Office 365 apps
- Billing: shows your billing information
- Training and guides: helps you learn more about using OneDrive for Business
- User management: lets you reset users’ passwords, as well as add, edit and remove accounts
- Role-based access for admin: lets you assign specialized admin roles to users
- Service health: monitors the health of Office 365 services
- Office 365 active user reports: shows how many users have used at least one Office application
- Azure active directory: provides access to common Azure tasks
- Domains: manages your domains and monitors their status
The “role-based access for admin” card lets you assign three specialized admin roles:
- User account admin: can create and manage users and groups, change users’ passwords, monitor OneDrive service and manage support tickets
- Security admin: has full access to manage the configuration of security-related services, including identity and information protection
- Exchange service admin: gets full access to Exchange Online and can manage mail recipients, mail flow, message compliance and mail protection, such as anti-spam and malware.
You can assign other roles by selecting an active user in the “user management” view and clicking “manage roles.” The sidebar that pops out on the right shows the many roles you can choose from, including global administrator, service administrator and global reader.
The same view lets you add new users, which is straightforward. You need to enter a user’s basic information, choose whether to license the user or not, assign a role and finish.
If you license a user, you’ll be billed the monthly or annual subscription rate. Users without licenses can only access content and don’t get 1TB of personal cloud storage. To make it easier to manage users and their roles, OneDrive lets you create groups and assign users to them.
Reports are another important aspect of user management. OneDrive gives you usage reports, as well as security and compliance reports. However, we didn’t see any info for our OneDrive files, even though we uploaded files and generated a share link.
You can use OneDrive for Business to share content with internal or external collaborators via email, or by generating a link pointing to the folder or file you want to share.
Security options for sharing let you set links to expire after a certain number of days, restrict link access to specific individuals and set up access passwords. You can also disable editing and restrict the link so that it only works with a specific group. That can include anyone with the link, people in your organization, people with existing access or specific people.
There’s also a separate “sharing” view, which shows all the content you’ve shared and what others have shared with you.
Device synchronization, or sync, is the essential mechanism of a cloud storage service, which helps drive online collaboration. Sync enables you and your teammates to access the same data from various devices and view each other’s edits in almost real time. This eliminates the need to email files or transfer them via USB sticks or other hardware.
Like we already mentioned, the common mechanism that sync centers around is a special folder that copies content from the cloud to your hard drive and vice versa. In all other aspects, this folder is just like any other file system folder.
OneDrive for Business Synchronization
OneDrive’s sync speeds for initial file uploads and downloads are similar to what we see with other services. We synced our 1GB zipped test folder in just a minute more than what we expected, considering our upload speed. Where the service sometimes falters is when you make changes to those files.
The best way to handle file changes is to use a feature called “block-level sync,” also known as “differential sync.” With block-level sync in play, the desktop client will sync only parts of the file that change, rather than the whole file. The results are much faster sync speeds and decreased bandwidth.
Currently, OneDrive only uses block-level sync for Microsoft Office files. That’s still good, considering that many EFSS services don’t use block-level sync at all. Microsoft aims to improve it because, according to a Microsoft blog post, block-level sync will be released in Q1 2020.
If you don’t want to wait, Dropbox Business is a good service that currently provides block-level sync. You can read more about Dropbox Business in our Dropbox Business review.
Right now, though, OneDrive has a neat sync feature that most other EFSS tools don’t: the ability to block syncing of certain file types. Using it, you can, for example, keep your important reports from being stored on your employees’ hard drives. However, a more important feature that you get with OneDrive for Business is selective sync.
Selective sync lets you disable sync for certain folders, which prevents them from being stored on your hard drive. That’s useful for business users who use laptops with low capacity solid-state drives.
Tools that enhance productivity is where EFSS services shine. Integrated apps help drive productivity by enabling you to open and edit files in the cloud from within the web client using various apps.
Of course, OneDrive for Business has many Microsoft apps at its back, which help you achieve increased productivity and more. Chief among these apps is, naturally, Microsoft Office.
If you decide to subscribe to one of Office 365 plans, your employees will be able to download and install desktop versions of the following apps:
- Word: a text processing and document creation program
- Excel: a spreadsheet program
- PowerPoint: a presentation program
- Outlook: a configurable email platform
- Access (PC only): a database management system
- Publisher (PC only): a desktop publishing application
You can install these apps on up to five devices per user. Even if you don’t opt in for a plan with Office 365, you can still open and edit Office documents using Office Online, which is free. Office Online includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. OneNote is a note-taking app, which made our best note-taking apps roundup.
OneDrive for Business also enables your users to integrate free and paid third-party apps into your cloud storage, so long as that feature hasn’t been disabled in the admin center. That enables users to work with third-party tools without leaving the OneDrive web platform.
The app library is divided into categories, such as productivity, analytics and collaboration. That makes it easier to find apps that you need, but if you’re still struggling to find the right app, you can look for it using the search bar. The library has dozens of apps, and among them are Trello, DocuSign, Salesforce and more.
Placing your financial data or sensitive intellectual property in the cloud can be unnerving, even more so if you use a popular cloud storage services, such as OneDrive. Because of that, cloud security becomes an even more important factor when deciding on a service.
OneDrive for Business encrypts data at the disk level using BitLocker, and at the file level using 256-bit AES encryption. Encryption scrambles your data to make it unreadable without a secret key. Microsoft stores that key on a separate server in Azure Key Vault. Your data is also stored on Azure servers, and if you’re not familiar with them, read our Microsoft Azure review.
Microsoft also uses the TLS protocol to protect data in transit from your computers to its data centers. TLS is a type of secure tunnel, which uses RSA 2048-bit protection for your data. You can learn more about it in our SSL vs. TLS roundup. Plus, unauthenticated connections over HTTP aren’t allowed but are instead redirected to HTTPS.
However, in-transit and at-rest encryption won’t help protect you from attacks that take advantage of weak passwords used by your employees. That’s possible because weak passwords are much more susceptible to brute-force cracks than encryption keys are. For that reason, we suggest you create a strong password.
Another ally in your fight to protect your login credentials is two-factor authentication. It’s not enabled by default, but you can request it as the admin. When enabled, users will have to input a special security code when logging in from an unfamiliar machine, in addition to their regular credentials.
For small business users, we would recommend that you turn this feature on because it means that even if someone manages to steal your users’ passwords, that information won’t be enough to successfully log in to your cloud storage account.
OneDrive for Business does let you set a password creation policy for your employees, but the only configurations are for password expirations. There’s no way to set custom password requirements. However, passwords are required to be at least eight characters long and must have three of the following: uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.
Office 365 plans also provide you with a security management and control center, which prevents viruses and other cyber attacks from harming your business. If an attack succeeds, though, there’s a way to recover your files. Plus, it has tools that keep your information private and secure, and the single sign-on feature.
In addition, your files on Microsoft’s servers are mirrored to at least two different Azure regions, which mitigates any damage that natural disasters could do to a single data center. Plus, only a limited number of essential personnel can gain access to data centers.
Microsoft also has separate teams of specialists that continuously validate the security methods of its data centers. If you want to learn more about such security methods, read our article on data center security.
You can access support from the top-right corner of the web client. This enables you to search for topics, but if you want to enter the support portal, you have to click the “read article in browser” link at the bottom. This is a confusing and non-intuitive way to access the support portal from the web client.
However, once you get to the support portal, you can search for help articles using the search bar or browse by topic categories such as “get started,” “sync,” “files,” and “account and storage.”
The article library has many articles that are written in steps and have images to help you follow along. Plus, there’s an Office 365 training center, which helps you improve your skills using videos, cheat sheets and various tips.
If you can’t locate an answer to your question in the support portal, you can get direct support from OneDrive’s tech support team by describing your issue and clicking the “get help” button. That will display article links, but if they aren’t helpful, beneath “call me” you can input your telephone number and request a call.
Callback saves you time because you won’t be on hold. Telephone support is available 24/7 and Microsoft even lets you know how long you can expect to wait for a call. We received our callback in less than 14 minutes, which is what the platform informed us to expect. Live chat is also an option.
However, email support isn’t, which is strange because it’s the standard support channel for most EFSS solutions.
There’s also an active OneDrive user community. You can create a new discussion to get help with your issue, but you can also search previous forum topics in case somebody already provided a solution. Often, asking users and IT experts is a great way of finding innovative solutions to problems.
OneDrive for Business is one of the most popular EFSS services thanks to its low cost and separate storage for each user, a pleasant interface, integration with Microsoft Office and many third-party apps and good support.
In addition, you can use features that block sync for certain files, choose only some files to sync,
perform extensive user and group management, which includes assigning user roles. Also, the user experience across all platforms is enjoyable and straightforward.
There are drawbacks, though. There’s no block-level sync, but it’s in the works. Another drawback is the lack of Linux support so users who prefer the penguin will have to look elsewhere. Plus, it’s not easy to access the support portal, the usage reports don’t populate with data and the search option in the web portal is buggy.
These aren’t huge issues, but they might be depending on your use case. However, overall, OneDrive for Business is a great service. Is it one that suits your business needs, though? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.