How To Use OneDrive: A Guide To Microsoft’s Cloud Storage Service

Onedrive is the kind of tool that, once you start using it, it makes backups easier without much intervention. The app is an easy way to make your files accessible on any Windows device, both as a way to send data between devices and back up these files in case you lose them on your local system.

You can take a picture on your phone one minute, and open it on your tablet the next to edit, then access it on your computer to publish it online. Also, you can continuously and instantaneously share files with friends so they can work on the same project as you. You can even view previous versions of your precious data. It’s an invaluable tool.

Anyone with a Microsoft account can access it straight away, and enjoy the 5GB free space, which is increasable with paid monthly or yearly plans. It’s easy to create a Microsoft account if you don’t have one. Then you can access OneDrive at onedrive.live.com, where you can drag and drop files to and from your desktop or browser.

However, to get the most from it, it’s best to properly install OneDrive on your PC, smartphone, and tablet, so you can always find your files quickly and easily. To learn how to do this and much more, just read on.

Setting Up and Using OneDrive on Your Windows 10 PC

Step #1: Register or Log In to OneDrive

onedrive_pc_2

The best thing about using OneDrive on Windows 10 is that it comes pre-installed, so you don’t need to download a thing. If you’ve signed in to Windows with a Microsoft account, you don’t even need to log in to OneDrive—it does that automatically. However, syncing OneDrive with other clouds like Google Drive and Dropbox has more procedures. Regardless, here’s how to set up OneDrive on your Windows PC.

  1. Step 1

    Click the ‘up-arrow‘ to expand the notification area on the taskbar, and click the gray and white ‘cloud‘ icon.
  2. Step 2

    If you’re not signed in, OneDrive invites you to do so.
  3. Step 3

    Follow the instructions on the screen to complete the setup process.
  4. Step 4

    If you are registered, a popup window appears instead, showing any recently synced files.

Step #2: Choose Which Folders Get Synced

If already logged in to OneDrive, you can change which folders get synced to your PC.

  1. Step 1

    Right-click OneDrive from the notification area.
  2. Step 2

    Choose ‘Settings‘ from the ‘Account’ tab.
  3. Step 3

    Click ‘Choose folders’ and select which OneDrive folders are available on your PC.

After this, open File Explorer, click OneDrive from the sidebar, and you’ll see all the folders you’ve opted to sync. You can browse and open these files on your PC at any time (even when offline). When you delete something from OneDrive in File Explorer, the changes get synced, and the files will disappear from your other devices.

Step #3: Backup Your Local Files to OneDrive

If you want your Windows Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders to get backed up to the cloud automatically, the process is rather simple.

  1. Step 1

    Right-click OneDrive in the notification area.
  2. Step 2

    Select ‘Settings.’
  3. Step 3

    Click the ‘Backup‘ tab.
  4. Step 4

    Optional: Check the boxes under ‘Photos and videos’ and ‘Screenshots’ to autosave them to OneDrive.
  5. Step 5

    Select ‘Manage Backup.’
  6. Step 6

    Use the popup options to choose what folders to back up in OneDrive.

The auto-save option in OneDrive for Photos, Videos, and Screenshots folders will instantly back up files from those folders, such as a snapshot of your active window or browser tab. The feature will also back up data when a device connects, such as a smartphone with images or videos, assuming that they weren’t backed up already through OneDrive on the smartphone. To back up any other folder or file, simply drag and drop it to OneDrive from File Explorer, providing you have enough storage remaining—lots of videos will chew through your free allowance.

Step #4: Share Files from OneDrive

Sharing is another advantage to OneDrive., and setting it up is straightforward.

  1. Step 1

    Right-click the file in File Explorer and select the blue cloud that says ‘Share.’
  2. Step 2

    By default, ‘Allow editing‘ is checked. To turn off editing permissions, click the ‘Anyone with the link can edit‘ box to open your options.
  3. Step 3

    Uncheck the box next to ‘Allow editing’ and click ‘Apply.’

  4. Step 4

    Enter the email of the recipient to send the file.

Step #5: Restore Deleted Files or Previous File Versions

Option #1: Restoring Deleted OneDrive Files

If you’ve deleted a file or folder, you’ll only be able to restore it from the OneDrive web app. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Step 1

    Right-click OneDrive in the notification area.
  2. Step 2

    Select ‘View online.’
  3. Step 3

    Click the ‘Recycle bin’ on the left sidebar.
  4. Step 4

    Select the items you want to recover and then click ‘Restore.’

Files are automatically cleared from the Recycle Bin after 30 days unless you’re using a school or work account where they get saved for 93 days. If your Recycle Bin is full, the oldest items get deleted after three days.

Option #2: Restore Previous File Versions

Sometimes, you need to recover an older version of a file, whether you don’t like the current one or because you messed everything up. To restore a previous version of a file, follow these steps:

  1. Step 1

    Right-click the file in File Explorer and choose ‘View online.’
  2. Step 2

    Log in to OneDrive from your browser, if prompted. Use the ‘Sign In‘ box, as shown below. The ‘Login’ at the top is for your entire Microsoft account.
  3. Step 3

    Browse to and right-click the file, and then select ‘Version history’ in the option.
  4. Step 4

    You’ll see all the different versions of your file, including information about when you edited it and its size.
  5. Step 5

    Click the three-dot button next to the author’s name, and you can opt to either ‘Restore‘ or ‘Open File.’ If the file has no previous versions, it will only show ‘Open file.’ After doing this, the other versions of your data will remain, so you’ll have the option to jump backward or forwards again if necessary.

Remove OneDrive from Your PC

If you have no reason to use OneDrive, or you prefer the likes of Google Drive or Dropbox, the easiest thing to do is to unlink your account, but you may also be able to uninstall OneDrive entirely.

Option 1: Logout/unlink OneDrive from your Windows 10 PC

  1. Step 1

    Right-click the app from the notification area.
  2. Step 2

    Select ‘Settings
  3. Step 3

    Choose ‘Unlink this PC.’
  4. Step 4

    After you click ‘Unlink this PC,’ a local copy of OneDrive files are still saved, so you’ll need to delete them manually from the OneDrive folder in File Explorer, should you want to.

Option 2: Uninstall OneDrive Completely from Windows 10 PC

Because it comes with the operating system, only some versions of Windows 10 let you uninstall the app.

  1. Step 1

    Click the ‘Start Menu,’ right-click on ‘OneDrive,’ and select ‘Uninstall.’
  2. Step 2

    If step 1 doesn’t work, try going to ‘Settings -> Apps & features.’
  3. Step 3

    Click ‘Microsoft OneDrive‘ and select ‘Uninstall.’

How To Install and Use OneDrive On Your Phone

Installing The OneDrive App on Android or iOS

  1. Step 1

    Visit the OneDrive download page on your Android or iOS smartphone. The URL is https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/onedrive/download.
  2. Step 2

    Click ‘Download.’ The link will send you to the appropriate store (Play Store or iOS App Store) to download and install the file.

    Android OneDrive:


    iOS OneDrive:

Alternatively, just visit the Google Play Store or iOS App Store directly and search for Microsoft OneDrive. From there, install the app and follow its on-screen instructions to log in with your Microsoft account.

Share Files from OneDrive on IOS and Android

Sharing from a mobile device is a quick and easy way to share files with others, especially while on the go and nowhere near a PC. Here’s what you do.

  1. Step 1

    Open the Android or iOS OneDrive app and browse for the file you want to share.
  2. Step 2

    Tap the file’s ‘three-dot‘ options icon to bring up the options menu.
  3. Step 3

    Select ‘Share.’
  4. Step 4

    You can choose whether the recipient can edit the file or not. Then there are several different ways to share, including copying a sharing link to your clipboard, inviting multiple people via email, or using ‘Send files,’ which lets you send the file directly through another app.

Store OneDrive Files Offline in iOS and Android

The Files tab lets you browse your OneDrive folders and files. To keep a folder or file offline in your smartphone, just tap its three-dot button and choose ‘Keep offline.’ Alternatively, you can download the current version of the file to your device by tapping ‘Save.’

Note: Any changes you make to the current version of a file will not be synced to other devices when offline. However, the data will sync when reconnected to the Internet.

Backup Your Phone’s Photos to OneDrive

Photos are valuable assets to your arsenal of data. Protecting them is crucial, so backups are essential. Even if you use Google Photos, it is still a good idea to have secondary backups. Here’s how to back up your precious photos from your Windows device.

  1. Step 1

    Tap the Photos tab within OneDrive.
  2. Step 2

    Select ‘Turn On‘ to activate the camera upload feature.

Once you’ve activated the backup tool, you can sort your photos using albums and browse them using the app’s automatic tags. To change the camera upload tool’s settings, tap ‘Me -> Settings -> Camera upload.’ From there, you can tap ‘Upload using’ to choose between using ‘Wi-Fi only’ or ‘Wi-Fi and mobile network,’ and there’s also an option to select whether videos get saved.

Check Storage Space in OneDrive on Android and iOS

One last thing to note is that it’s always essential to know how much OneDrive space you’ve consumed and have left. As mentioned earlier, it usually fills up quickly. Here’s how to check your OneDrive space.

  1. Step 1

    Tap the ‘Me‘ button at the bottom of the OneDrive app.
  2. Step 2

    Optional: Access the ‘Recycle Bin‘ to manage the space available and browse all your offline files in one place.

If you want to upgrade your storage, tap ‘Go Premium‘ and follow the on-screen instructions.

4 thoughts on “How To Use OneDrive: A Guide To Microsoft’s Cloud Storage Service”

Avatar Bruno says:
Great article. Very detailed. Very helpful.

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