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OneDrive review

Michael Passingham
21 Oct 2014
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
The signup page for OneDrive
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
2
per month for 100GB

This super-cheap Cloud sync service is just pipped by Google Drive, but OneDrive is fantastic value when paired with Office365

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Specifications

Operating system support: Windows Vista/7/8, Mac OS X 10.7.3+, Storage space: 57GB, Mobile device support: Android, iOS, Windows Phone 8, Sync support?: Yes

OneDrive, the Cloud service formerly known as SkyDrive, is Microsoft's foray into the Cloud storage and synchronisation market. This service comes with a lot more than just synchronisation tools, and also integrates nicely into Outlook email and Office Online document editing, so is a powerful service for those wanting to store and work on their data in the Cloud.

Unlike a pure backup service, which will copy all your files to the Cloud, OneDrive synchronises a single folder on your PC, giving you to access to important files from wherever you are on an unlimited number of devices.

OneDrive is integrated into Windows 8.1 as standard, and is a free addition to any Microsoft accounts old and new (including Hotmail, MSN, Live, Xbox Live and Outlook), so Microsoft already has a significant potential user base with OneDrive. However, as shown by OneDrive's powerful set of tools, generous free storage and excellent mobile apps, Microsoft doesn't appear to be resting on its laurels.

ONEDRIVE PRICING

Simply having a Microsoft account nets you 15GB of free storage, but this can be increased to 18GB by installing OneDrive on a handheld device and enabling the automatic camera roll upload feature. You can get a maximum 25GB of permanent storage by inviting ten friends to join OneDrive; you get 0.5GB for every successful referral. This is more generous than the 2GB free storage you get with Dropbox, although Dropbox has numerous device tie-ins and offers which make it fairly easy to accumulate upwards of 50GB of free storage.

OneDrive is one of the cheapest Cloud storage providers on the market, with 100GB of storage costing just £2, around £4 less than what Dropbox would charge you for the same amount.

By far the best deal is the £5.99 per month 1TB plan, which also gets you a subscription to Microsoft's excellent web-based Office365 suite. This is also £1 cheaper than Dropbox and slightly undercuts Google Drive's equivalent plan, too.

OneDrive has increased its maximum file size from 2GB to a much more generous 10GB, meaning even your largest photos and videos won't need to be split up into smaller pieces before you upload. 

WEB INTERFACE AND DESKTOP APP

OneDrive is good value, but doesn't skimp on features and actually beats Dropbox in a few key areas. Both its desktop and web application are easy to use; as with Dropbox you upload files by moving them into the OneDrive folder on your PC, or upload them from the web interface or via smartphone or tablet apps. Once the files are uploaded, they will sync to any other device you sign up to the service.

It's easy to share files with friends or colleagues, either by right-clicking on a file in Windows Explorer or by creating a unique link to share in the web interface. Files stored in OneDrive can also be embedded into a web page, making it easy to place images or tables onto a website without using up your website's bandwidth allocation.

The desktop application is a little more basic than Dropbox's; you can't throttle downloads or change proxy settings, for example, but we didn’t find this affected us unduly in everyday use. As with Dropbox, only files and folders stored in the OneDrive directory will be automatically synchronised. You can choose which folders are synchronised on a per-PC basis, meaning you don't need to have all your files on every computer.

It's also very simple to edit documents and spreadsheets from within the OneDrive web interface, without having any Office software installed. You can edit Excel and Word files in Microsoft's free Office Online suite, and multiple people can work on files simultaneously, with changes reflected in real time. Office Online is one of the most fully featured free web-based productivity suites and is a big bonus to anyone who wants to edit documents on the move. The web application keeps track of version histories, and much like Windows itself, has a Recycle Bin that allows you to restore files you've previously deleted.

A feature unique to OneDrive is the ability to remotely access any file stored on a machine via the web interface, even if the file isn't in the OneDrive folder. This feature has a few limitations which do rather curb its usage, but could be extremely important if you've no other way to get hold of a file. For starters, the machine in question has to be switched on, running Windows 7 or Windows 8 (strangely this feature has been disabled for Windows 8.1) and also not be behind any strict network settings put in place by an IT manager or firewall. External and network drives such as a NAS or USB storage connected to the PC are also accessible in this way.

ONEDRIVE MOBILE APPS

OneDrive apps are available for the iPhone, iPad, Android devices and Windows Phone 8. All the apps let you view and open files in external applications. Offline storage doesn't work as well as we would like; downloading a file simply places it on your device, but it doesn't synchronise with OneDrive and becomes essentially a new file frozen in time until you download a newer version. There are also applications for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, as well as a Modern UI version for Windows 8 and 8.1 designed for touchscreens.

OneDrive is a powerful tool which goes further than simple file synchronisation and rivals Google Drive for added extras and storage space. Its desktop application is more simplistic than that offered by Dropbox and there are some strange quirks to its mobile applications, but it's a great-value product and is particularly useful if you already use Microsoft devices and services.

Account specifications
Operating system supportWindows Vista/7/8, Mac OS X 10.7.3+
Storage space100GB
Number of computersUnlimited
Folder and file restrictions10GB file size
Backup
Redundancy/data centresMultiple data centres
EncryptionNone
Logging/email reportsLogging
Schedule optionsNone
Pause/throttleNo
Back up open filesYes
Back up entire disk partitionsNo
Back up external disks/NAS devicesCan be accessed via web interface
Save backups to local mediaNo
Send backups by postNo
Restore
Recover previous versions of files10 versions
Recover deleted filesYes, 30 days
Restore from DVD/USB drive sent in the postNo
Web access to backupsYes
Share selected backup contentsYes
Media browserPhotos, videos, audio, documents
Mobile device supportAndroid, iOS, Windows Phone 8
Sync
Sync support?Yes
Sync priceIncluded
Sync foldersDedicated
System filesNo
Max devicesUnlimited
Buying information
Free version7-15GB free space
Price per month£1.99
Price per year£24
Detailswww.onedrive.live.com

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