Pros & Cons of Microsoft OneDrive: How to Determine if It's the Best Option for You

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Common Features

OneDrive and other online cloud storage providers let you store and access files from any internet connected device. Upload files to keep them backed up or access them while on the go.

Most cloud service providers offer a similar feature set including the following:

  • Upload, delete and access files from a web browser.
  • Install the OneDrive application on your computer to give you access to a OneDrive folder where you can drag and drop files and folders as if they were on your computer.
  • Free storage – OneDrive gives you 7GB of free storage with the ability to earn another 8GB.
  • Paid storage plans – if you need more space you can purchase additional storage - $50 per year will net you an additional 100GB as of summer 2014.
  • Camera Roll – by backing up your phone’s photos to OneDrive, you can earn 3GB of free storage. Just download the OneDrive app on your phone and set up your phone to back up to OneDrive.

The Silver Bullet

So just what sets OneDrive apart? Three words: Microsoft Office Apps. Microsoft Office is still king of the productivity suites. Although Google offers Docs as part of their free cloud storage and apps, the fact that you can use Microsoft Word in a browser with your existing Word documents is a huge selling point.

Instead of taking a document and uploading it to Google Docs and then converting it –losing most of the formatting in the process– you can upload documents to OneDrive and edit them in browser without losing formatting (Figure 1). If you have Office installed locally, you still have the option to open the document using your installed application, but for computers without Office, this is a great option.

Other pieces of Microsoft Office are available to use in the browser including Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. The online versions aren’t as fully featured as the desktop versions of Office are, but you are getting access to these slimmed-down versions free and online.

Is OneDrive Right for you?

Unless you have tried it, you may not know for certain, but OneDrive falls a bit short of some other providers in some areas.

If you are a Gmail\GoogleDocs person and don’t use Microsoft Office, there is little reason to make the switch. Google offers about 15GB of free storage (shared amongst each service – Gmail, Drive, Docs and Photos). Just as Google doesn’t work flawlessly with Office documents, Google Docs don’t work flawlessly in Microsoft Office Apps.

If you are someone that needs more than the free amount of storage, there are other cheaper places to look. For example, if you need terabytes for backing up large media collections, take a look at Bitcasa’s “Infinite” plan, which is currently $99/month for unlimited storage. Even their 1TB plan is only $10/month. This makes Microsoft’s $50/year for 100GB look like robbery.

On the other hand, if you are a frequent user of Microsoft Office and want easy access to your documents from your computer, mobile device or any internet capable machine, OneDrive may be the perfect fit for you.