Cloud Storage Options with Microsoft OneDrive

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Part 2 of 2

I suggest that you read part 1 before jumping into this post, particularly if you are new to OneDrive. In part 2, we’ll dig a little deeper into some of the tips and tricks for OneDrive like sharing files and recovering previous versions of files.

Microsoft has been very intentional in its development of OneDrive. It integrates easily with other Microsoft O365 applications. You will notice this quickly when you open your OneDrive in file explorer. There is a folder called Notebooks which links to OneNote. OneNote is a note-taking application that is also included in nearly all O365 subscriptions. I won’t go into this too deeply. A discussion of OneNote would be appropriate for a different post. For now, just know that your notes are automatically saved to the Notebooks folder in your OneDrive.

What to expect once your files are synced

When you open OneDrive in file explorer, you should see the folders that you have set up to sync from your computer. This serves as a form of back-up for files stored locally on your computer. Remember this if you lose or accidentally delete a file. The folder structure in OneDrive will appear just like it does on your computer so finding files is a simple process.

It is important to note that OneDrive will automatically save a file as you make edits to it. This can be a difficult adjustment for some. If you are in the habit of opening an existing file, making edits to it then saving it as a new file, this will be different for you. Once you make any changes to the document, it will be overwritten with the new version in OneDrive.

The new process you’ll want to learn is to open the file you wish to edit and immediately select “save a copy” under the file menu. If you accidentally begin editing over the document before you save a copy, don’t worry you can undo your work and retore the original version of the document. Look for the undo button on the top left of the title bar for the application you are working in. When you click on the little downward arrow next to it, you can select which actions you want to undo. You can also open the file menu and select “Version History” in the “Info” section to view and restore previous versions of the file.

Sharing files in OneDrive

Another tip in OneDrive is sharing files. You can share a file in several ways and even apply specific permissions to the documents. The most common way to share files is via email. Outlook is the email application within O365 so I’ll explain how it works there. If you use a different email program like Gmail or another web-based email, this process may be different.

In Outlook, begin an email you normally would. Enter the recipient’s email address first. Click on the “Attach file” button in the top menu. A window will open which gives you two options for how you’d like to send the file. Your options are to “share link” or “attach as copy.” If you want to simply send a copy of the document, choose that option and a copy of the file will be attached to your email. You must enter the recipient’s email address before attaching a file to get the link sharing options. Outlook will just attach a copy to the email if you have not entered an email address.

Collaborating on documents

Sharing a link to your document allows the recipient to access the file that is stored on your OneDrive. This can be very useful if you intend to collaborate on the document. Many people can be working in the same document at once. Anyone with access to the document will be able to make changes in real-time. This feature is very useful for complex documents or spreadsheets that many people access and edit.

You also share a file directly from OneDrive. There are a couple of ways to do this, but the “Share” feature offers several useful features. Open OneDrive and find the file you wish to share. Right-click on the file and select the “Share” option. The OneDrive icon appears next to it so it is easy to find.

Once you click “Share”, several additional options open up in a menu called “Link settings.” From here you can change the permissions and add security features to the file.

Changing Permissions of a Shared File

There are several file permission options when sharing a link to a OneDrive file. You may allow anyone with the link to view and edit it. Perhaps you want to share it with several people but only want people within your organization to edit it. Simply unchecking the “Allow editing” box will keep from the recipient from being able to make changes to the document. You may also keep someone from downloading a copy of a document that they are not allowed to edit.

It can be useful to allow access to a document for a limited amount of time. You are able to set an expiration date on a document that you share from OneDrive. Once that date has passed, the recipient will no longer have access to it.

Adding a password to access the document is useful when you are sharing sensitive information. Password protecting a document is also useful when access to the document needs to be removed. Simply change the password and share the file again to those who still need access.

Sharing directly from OneDrive is not the only place that offers permission settings. If you elect to attach the file you wish to share via email, you may click the down arrow to the right of the attached file to access permission settings. You won’t have all the same options that are available when sharing from OneDrive, but the most common ones are available here.

OneDrive access from anywhere

The main cool trick is access to OneDrive is available from anywhere with an internet connection. People may need to get to their files from other devices like a tablet or cell phone so taking a laptop computer is not always necessary. The file system functions much like other Windows file systems so people are usually comfortable navigating it. Folders in OneDrive can have permissions to allow or deny specific users. This allows some businesses to replace expensive servers or network storage appliances because of this level of access control.


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