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What is OneDrive?

OneDrive homepage screenshot
(Image credit: Microsoft)

What is OneDrive?

Microsoft OneDrive is one of the world’s best cloud storage platforms, offering secure file storage, a range of management options, and collaboration features.

What does OneDrive do? 

  • OneDrive enables users to store files and other data in the cloud in a safe, secure manner. 
  • It comes with a range of collaboration and other team productivity tools that you can take advantage of to streamline workflows and improve efficiency. 
  • Advanced subscriptions include a range of business features, such as a selection of auditing and compliance tools and secure Vault storage. 
  • OneDrive comes with a minimum of 1TB of storage. Unlimited storage plans are also available. 
  • You can set up automatic sync, ensuring that all important files are backed up in your cloud drive as often as required. 
  • OneDrive enables you to access your files from anywhere in the world. All you need is an internet connection and a device that enables you to log into your cloud account. 

Cloud storage enables you to store files securely in a remote location

Cloud storage platforms like OneDrive enable users to store files in a safe, secure manner. (Image credit: Microsoft OneDrive)

How departments can use OneDrive

OneDrive enables companies to store important documents in the cloud. It presents a great way to reduce paper use across your business, and most departments will benefit from some sort of access to a OneDrive subscription. 

We’ve provided a brief overview of the ways that using OneDrive cloud storage could apply to the main departments of an average company. 

OneDrive user interface

OneDrive is available across mobile and desktop devices. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Marketing

Usually, your marketing department will be responsible for content creation. They will be dealing with various important files, including content pieces. By uploading these to your cloud storage account, you can ensure that they are safe and secure at all times. 

In addition, OneDrive enables team members to collaborate on marketing documents. Work together on campaign development, share the results of past campaigns, and collaborate on other documents to ensure that you’re making the most of your marketing team’s budget.

HR

The human resources department works with a significant amount of sensitive information and personal data. One of the best ways to ensure that this remains secure is to upload it to the cloud via a platform like OneDrive. 

Then, you can set user permissions to ensure that only the relevant team members can access important files or folders. Share files with your team by sending them a link, and rest easy with the knowledge that you’re meeting your regulatory requirements when it comes to data security. 

OneDrive photo storage

OneDrive enables safe, secure file storage. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Finance

Like the human resources department, your finance department will be working with a large amount of sensitive data and other information. Sensitive documents and files can be uploaded to your cloud storage drive, ensuring that they’re safe and protected from prying eyes. 

Operations

In the modern world, many companies have a large remote workforce. Your operations management team can use OneDrive to make your remote workers more efficient. By providing them with clear permissions and enabling them to access relevant documents, you can ensure that they have everything they need at their fingertips.

Features and benefits of OneDrive

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Data security — Although it’s not quite the most secure cloud storage platform out there, OneDrive offers data encryption and various other security features across the board. All files are protected by AES 256-bit encryption while at rest, which basically means that they can’t be accessed by anyone without the correct permissions. 

In addition, all data is encrypted with Transport Layer Security during transit, ensuring that it can’t be intercepted by hackers or other malicious third parties. 

Even more advanced end-to-end encryption is available via the Vault tool, which is designed to protect your most sensitive files. However, it’s worth noting that the Microsoft team can, in theory, access your Vault, which means that it’s not as secure as some other platforms.

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Document scanning — OneDrive’s document-scanning tool is designed to streamline workflows and make it easier to convert paper documents to cloud files. With this, you can scan physical documents directly to your OneDrive account. 

Multi-page files can be added, which is nice to see, and you can securely store copies of sensitive documents. Additionally, the scanning tool enables you to annotate or comment on files. It’s a great all-around option for archiving physical documents. 

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Microsoft 365 integration — OneDrive is one of the most widely used Microsoft platforms, and it boasts excellent integrations with the rest of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. In short, this enables you to connect apps such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, automatically syncing documents between them. 

This is an especially useful feature for businesses that rely on streamlined collaboration and document management. Files can be created and automatically synced with your OneDrive account, and you can access a suite of team management tools. 

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Generous storage — Even the cheapest OneDrive subscription comes with 1TB of storage per user. Unlimited storage is also available, which is great for businesses with a large number of files or a large amount of data. The maximum file upload size of 100GB per file is also great to see. 

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Advanced admin controls — Admin controls are crucial for those managing large teams. OneDrive excels here, offering a wide range of controls and enabling you to set clear access permissions for individual users or user groups. In-depth admin reports can detail exactly how OneDrive is being used across your organization, enabling informed management decisions. Numerous other admin tools are also available, and you can access all of these through your OneDrive admin panel. 

How much does OneDrive cost? 

There are four options for businesses that want a OneDrive subscription. The most basic OneDrive for Business Plan 1 is $5 per user, per month, with annual payments. It includes 1TB of secure cloud storage per user, a maximum file size of 100GB, and all the other OneDrive collaboration and productivity features. 

For unlimited storage, you will need to upgrade to a OneDrive for Business Plan 2 subscription, which comes in at $10 per user, per month. Unlimited storage is only available with five or more users. You will need to request additional storage beyond 5TB per user by speaking with the Microsoft support team. 

Alternatively, you can access 1TB of storage per user with a Microsoft 365 subscription. The cheapest Microsoft 365 Business Basic plan starts at $5 per user, per month, with an annual subscription ($6 with monthly payments) and includes access to a small selection of Microsoft apps. The Microsoft 365 Business Standard plan (from $12.50 per user, per month) adds access to a selection of more advanced apps, including Publisher, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. 

OneDrive plans and pricing

There are four OneDrive plans for business users (Image credit: Microsoft)

OneDrive FAQ

Should I use OneDrive?

OneDrive is a highly rated cloud storage platform that has much to offer. Its lack of a zero-knowledge policy will be a concern to those dealing with sensitive data. But apart from this, the platform boasts generous storage, low prices, and a range of excellent collaboration and sharing tools. It’s a great option when it comes to basic cloud storage. 

Is OneDrive free to use?

Yes, OneDrive is free to use for personal users. There’s a free forever plan that provides 5GB of free storage, along with virtually all other basic features. However, there are no free options for business clients. Prices for a business plan start from $5 per user, per month, but you will have access to at least 1 TB of storage per user, along with a suite of advanced productivity tools.  

Are OneDrive and Google Drive the same thing?

No, OneDrive and Google Drive are not the same thing. They both offer similar cloud storage systems backed by the power of the Microsoft and Google ecosystems, respectively, but they are owned and operated by completely different companies.

What are the disadvantages of OneDrive? 

OneDrive is a popular cloud storage platform backed by the power of the Microsoft ecosystem, but it still has a few disadvantages. First, there are no free options for business users. 

Second, zero-knowledge encryption isn’t available, which could leave you vulnerable to a security breach if a malicious third-party decides to hack the platform. Also, you can't use OneDrive to back up your Apple devices, setting up folder syncing can be confusing, and it’s a little pricey compared to some alternatives. 

How safe is OneDrive? 

OneDrive has never suffered from a major security breach, and it uses industry-standard encryption and other data protection methods. All files are protected by AES 256-bit encryption when at rest, and TLS security is used to send files between a device and the cloud. 

In addition, the OneDrive Vault tool provides full end-to-end encryption for your most important data. On the downside, the company doesn’t have a zero-knowledge policy. This basically means it has a backdoor that enables it to access your data if required to do so by law enforcement or other regulatory bodies.

Main takeaways

  • Microsoft OneDrive is a popular cloud storage platform that’s used by millions of personal and business customers across the world. 
  • It has a range of excellent security tools, including at-rest encryption, versatile access controls, and two factor authentication, but zero-knowledge encryption is notably absent. 
  • OneDrive business subscriptions start at $5 per user, per month, for 1TB of storage, and unlimited storage can be accessed for $10 per user, per month. 
  • Cloud storage solutions such as OneDrive are applicable to and can be used by virtually all departments across a company. 
  • OneDrive is backed by the power of the Microsoft ecosystem. It has integrations with a range of apps, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, offering streamlined management and excellent collaboration tools. 

Further reading

To find out more about Microsoft OneDrive, we recommend starting with our in-depth OneDrive cloud storage review. You might also like to see how OneDrive stacks up against its competitors by reading our IDrive vs OneDrive, Google Drive vs OneDrive, and OneDrive vs Dropbox comparisons. 

Daniel Blechynden

Daniel is a freelance copywriter with over six years experience writing for publications such as TechRadar, Tom’s Guide, and Hosting Review. He specializes in tech and finance, with a particular focus on website building, web hosting, and related fields.