OneDrive is Microsoft's entry into the big, bad world of cloud storage, and the behemoth from Redmond has gone in with guns blazing. Offering integration with Office as well as many other apps, plus a decent pricing plan, it seems very little stands in OneDrive's way. Or does it? Check out our review for the answer.
Free plan available
OneDrive is a Microsoft product designed to take a piece of the cloud storage market. It has a sketchy past regarding privacy, including being connected to the PRISM project. OneDrive has updated its security since, but not quite enough to match the most secure cloud storage solutions on the market.
It shines in the productivity and collaboration departments, which is no wonder considering it connects to many other Microsoft products, including Office Online, Skype, Outlook and the Office 365 suite for desktop. OneDrive isn’t on our best cloud storage for collaboration list, but its business counterpart, OneDrive for Business, is.
Its Personal plan can’t compete with the best on the market, but the Home plan is a great offer. OneDrive doesn’t lag in the speed department and it’s clients let you share your files and folders easily. The user experience is enjoyable, too.
Stick with us as we go into detail about its capabilities in this OneDrive review and see why we think it’s one of the best cloud storage providers out there, despite its flaws.
- Great family plan
- Office 365
- Good for collaboration
- Fast sync
- Multimedia playback
- Only 30 days of versioning
- No zero-knowledge encryption
- No Linux client
- Sync Folder
- File Link Sharing
- Folder Sharing
- Visit OneDriveOneDrive Review
- Google Drive
- Sync Folder
- File Link Sharing
- Folder Sharing
- Visit Google DriveGoogle Drive Review
- Sync.com★★★ Best Cloud Storage ★★★
- Sync Folder
- File Link Sharing
- Folder Sharing
- Visit Sync.comSync.com Review
- pCloud10 GB Free Storage
- Sync Folder
- File Link Sharing
- Folder Sharing
- Visit pCloudpCloud Review
As expected, OneDrive integrates with Microsoft’s Office Online app. That integration lets you open, edit and collaborate online on Office documents. No matter your subscription, you can use Office Online for free. In that way, it is similar to Google Docs, which you can learn more about in our Google Drive review.
For the desktop versions of Microsoft Office, you’ll have to subscribe to the Office 365 plan or OneDrive for Business. Read our OneDrive for Business review for more on that.
OneDrive automatically saves photos and videos on devices you connect to a computer that has it installed. You can set it to do the same for screenshots you capture, too. Its photo preview offers more than basic options, as well. It can add your photos to albums, play them in a slideshow, add an effect, rotate, view in original size and more.
OneDrive’s web app has Skype embedded, so you can use it to chat and make conference calls. Those who would like to add another layer of security and privacy on Skype should read our best VPN for Skype article.
With Office and OneDrive, you can co-edit and share files right in your Office apps, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The OneDrive desktop client and Office work together to sync documents in OneDrive and let you collaborate with other people on shared documents at the same time.
OneDrive integrates with OneNote, Microsoft’s note-taking app. It’s good for syncing and sharing notes and features flexible note design. It’s one of the best note-taking apps and you can find more about it in our OneNote review.
There are several apps that can help your productivity, including Sway, a content publishing app, and Forms, a workflow management app.
OneDrive Features Overview
OneDrive’s free plan offers a meager 5GB of storage, which isn’t as stingy as the 2GB you get from Dropbox, but it’s not even close to Google Drive’s 15GB. Because of that, it can’t compare with services that are in our best free cloud storage article.
1-year plan $ 1.99/ month
$23.88 billed every year
|Office 365 Personal|
1-year plan $ 5.83/ month
$69.99 billed every year
Save 17 %
|Office 365 Home|
1-year plan $ 8.33/ month
$99.99 billed every year
Save 17 %
There aren’t many premium plans to choose from. In fact, personal users can pick between two: the 50GB plan and Office 365 personal. The former isn’t a great offer because it doesn’t provide a lot of storage, but it isn’t expensive, either.
Office 365 Personal is a much better deal at $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year. Amazon is better, though, because its 1TB plan is $59.99 per year. If you want to see its pricing details, read our Amazon Drive review.
pCloud offers an even better deal because you can get 2TB for a couple of dollars more per month. You can learn more about that in our pCloud review. OneDrive’s plan includes Office 365, though, so its value is higher for those who need to use it.
Office 365 Home is where OneDrive shines. It offers 6TB of storage to six users, each of whom get 1TB, for only $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year.
Though OneDrive has its share of quirks, its value is strong. We recommend using its free plan to see how the service operates before subscribing.
OneDrive’s desktop client works on Windows and macOS, but not Linux. If you like the penguin you can try a service from our best cloud storage for Linux article.
The client consists of a system tray icon and sync folder, which is the standard practice among cloud storage services. A thin window pops out when you click on the system tray icon.
You can use it to open your sync folder, check the status of your syncs and access the settings. The settings window is easy to use, but its design feels outdated because it looks like a plain, old settings window. The desktop client has a link that opens the web client, too.
The web client has an attractive and straightforward design. You won’t have to fish for what you’re looking for because clear lines, contrasts and plenty of negative space make things easy to find. Uploading is simple because you can drag and drop your file or folder anywhere in the work area and it will start to upload. The web client can display your files in list or grid view.
A little checkbox appears when you hover over your content and lets you select disparate files and folders, which you can then modify using the actions from the top menu. Actions include “rename,” “copy to,” “delete” and others. You can do the same for a single file or folder by right-clicking it.
Links along the top let you initiate Skype sessions, review notifications, tweak settings and access help. In the top left corner, there’s a button to open applications, such as Mail, Skype, Calendar, People, Tasks and all of the Office 365 apps. There are also buttons that upload files and folders from your desktop, bypassing the sync client.
All in all, the web client is fast and performs without a hitch.
When you’re on the go, you can use OneDrive’s mobile app, which is available for Android and iOS. It has an appealing design and it’s easy to use. You can check your recent files, too, which is a nice touch and one that’s not common. Standard features, such as offline access to files and automatic photo and video uploads, are present. There’s a “shared” tab, too.
When you want to share files or folders from the web app, you do so by generating a link. In either case, you can enable editing. If you don’t, the permission granted will be view-only. You can protect your links by setting passwords or adding expiry dates. That requires you to have a paid subscription, though. There’s a “shared” page that shows what you’ve shared with others.
You can share your links to social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Weibo.
Still, OneDrive’s approach to sharing leaves something to be desired. When you share a folder, you don’t see a dialogue to invite others like you do with many services. Instead, you have to click “email” to see an option to send invites.
You can use OneDrive to share directly from your computer, too. To do so, right-click a file or folder and select “share a OneDrive link.” That will create and copy a link to your clipboard. If you need more options, you can select “more OneDrive options” using the same method after which the web client will open and show you more sharing options.
The mobile app shows the sharing options in a clear and easy-to-use pop-up area. You can set share permissions to “can edit” or “can view” or set an expiration date. When you share you can copy a link, invite people or send files directly using Outlook or any of the apps on your phone.
OneDrive isn’t on the list of our best cloud storage for sharing, but that may have been an oversight on our part because Dropbox, which made the list, requires a $20 Dropbox Professional subscription to get the same features. Read more about Dropbox in our Dropbox review.
OneDrive follows the standard sync model developed by Dropbox in 2007. It consists of a system tray icon and a sync folder. The sync folder is like a normal folder in your file system, with the only difference being that it’s connected to the cloud. Any file or folder you place in it will be stored on your hard drive and the cloud.
You can move individual files to OneDrive’s sync folder by right-clicking and selecting “move to OneDrive,” but you can’t do the same with folders.
You can’t sync specific folders to OneDrive, either. What you can do is go to the settings menu of the OneDrive desktop client and update the folders that OneDrive selected to “auto save” or, in other words, sync. On Windows 10, they are “desktop,” “pictures” and “documents.”
That said, you get more control over what is synced to your computer with selective sync. The files and folders that you choose not to sync won’t take space on your hard drive or be available if you’re offline. You can’t do the same from the other end because you can’t choose to sync any folder.
If you want to see your online files without them taking space, you can access OneDrive as a network drive. You’ll need to use a third-party service, though. Mountain Duck is a good choice for that. Read our how to create a network drive primer for help.
We performed several upload and download tests using a 1GB folder. We were using an Ethernet connection in Belgrade, Serbia, with an upload speed of 6 megabits per second and a download speed of 100 Mbps.
It took OneDrive around 23 minutes on average to upload the folder. Given our upload speed, that’s as fast as possible. The download took around three minutes on average, though, which is twice the time we would expect at 100 Mbps. Considering OneDrive’s global network, that’s a poor result.
OneDrive had a small impact on our system resources, but not so much that we couldn’t perform other tasks. If that happens to you, you can manually limit your upload and download speeds.
The upload speed would be faster if block-level sync worked for every type of file, but it only works for Office files.
|Tests||First attempt:||Second attempt:||Average:|
At-rest encryption includes two components: BitLocker disk-level encryption and per-file encryption of customer content.
Private, end-to-end encryption prevents anyone other than you from reading your files, but OneDrive doesn’t offer it. That means a rogue employee or the government could potentially read your data. We’ll talk more about that in the next section.
Both Office 365 plans can detect ransomware attacks and help you restore your OneDrive to a point before files were compromised, so you don’t have to give in to the demands of cybercriminals. If an attack is detected, you will be alerted through an email, mobile or desktop notifications and guided through the recovery process.
That involves using the Files Restore feature from OneDrive for Business, which is now available on personal OneDrive accounts. It allows you to restore your OneDrive to a previous point in time within the previous 30 days.
You can use also use the feature to recover from an accidental mass delete, file corruption or any other catastrophic event. If you have a business and would like to OneDrive’s advanced features, we recommend trying OneDrive for Business. Read more about it in our OneDrive for Business review.
OneDrive’s email integration, Outlook.com, offers an added layer of protection and ensures the end-to-end encryption of your email. When you use its encryption, your email remains encrypted over a secure connection and minimizes the threat of your information being intercepted or leaked to cybercriminals.
If you’d rather not trust Microsoft with your email, you can try one of the most secure email providers.
Privacy is a sore spot for Microsoft. As a U.S.-based company, it is subject to U.S. privacy laws and regulations, which haven’t always had the best reputation. One reason for that is the U.S. National Security Agency’s PRISM project, a secret government surveillance program that Microsoft was supposedly involved with.
The CLOUD Act, which enables U.S. alphabet agencies to compel OneDrive to disclose data regardless of what it is located, is of particular note. When you take that into account, it’s not surprising that the U.S. isn’t among the countries with the best privacy laws.
Microsoft may not have had much choice in the matter, but a company based outside of the U.S. wouldn’t have faced the same dilemma unless it was based in China.
Neither company is beholden to U.S. data laws and both provide private, end-to-end encryption for free. Read our article on top cloud providers based outside the reach of Uncle Sam’s grabby hands for more ideas.
With OneDrive, can access and clear some of your data using the Microsoft privacy dashboard. Plus, you can control the use of your data for Microsoft advertising on its opt-out page. There’s a good chance you’re using the latest Windows so read our Windows 10 privacy settings article to learn how to tweak its privacy, too.
Not all personal data processed by Microsoft can be accessed or controlled via the tools above. If you want to access or control personal data processed by the company that is not available via those tools or directly through the Microsoft products you use, you can contact Microsoft.
We would feel better if zero-knowledge encryption was available, but OneDrive doesn’t have it. For more options, check out the services on our best zero-knowledge cloud storage services list.
You can use Microsoft’s online help center for its software, including OneDrive, Office 365 and Office Online.
You can search for help topics or browse by category. OneDrive categories include “getting started,” “files,” “sharing and collaboration,” “sync,” “mobile and mac,” “accounts and storage” and “troubleshoot.” The website has a lot of training pages, and many include videos.
If that doesn’t help, you can contact Microsoft support via email or try the community forum.
There’s no telephone or chat support. We contacted support by email and it was quick to answer our question, taking only 45 minutes.
You can use the user forum for outside-the-box thinking, which trained support personnel aren’t always good at, but the official Microsoft forum doesn’t seem to generate many responses from users or employees.
The main benefits of using OneDrive are productivity, collaboration and speed. It connects to many Microsoft apps, the most useful of which are arguably Office Online and its desktop counterpart, Office 365.
Office 365 increases the value of its premium plans because it’s included with two of them. Users who want to use cloud storage, but don’t want to pay for the desktop version of the Office suite, benefit a lot from those deals. Other useful features include media playback, Outlook integration and more.
Its security and privacy aren’t top-notch, though, even if they are better than before. The lack of zero-knowledge encryption is a sore spot because OneDrive is a U.S.-based product.
That said, OneDrive provides an enjoyable user experience, especially on the web and smartphone apps.
What do you think about OneDrive? Do you think its features, apps and good value are enough to give it a try? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.