Office 365 OneDrive: Can You Really Ditch Your Hard Drive 

You might have heard of OneDrive. Maybe your company has migrated to Office 365, and you can see that OneDrive is represented in one of those little tiles in the upper-left that you haven’t clicked on yet. If you haven’t, one thing you’ve probably heard of, because it’s so hard to avoid these days, is “the cloud.”   

How do they relate?  Well, OneDrive is Microsoft’s way to offer you storage in the cloud. This means that your documents and files are NOT stored on your local hard drive. Instead they are stored on Microsoft’s computers and servers somewhere else—you won’t really know where and you don’t need to know where. All you need to know is that you can access these files from any computer with an Internet connection. Being able to access your files from just about anywhere is a pretty powerful feature. And OneDrive allows you to share documents, which can help you collaborate easily with others and even co-author documents at the same time. 

So if you put your files in OneDrive, does this mean you can actually ditch your hard drive?  

You might think this option won’t work for you because you aren’t online all the time, but Microsoft anticipated this and enabled a sync function allowing you to essentially download all these documents locally to multiple computers. You can work during the day on your office PC, then work offline on your personal laptop on the train ride home, synching changes back to OneDrive when you are online again, and you’re good to go.  

Another thing to consider is backups. By now, just about everyone knows someone with this familiar tale of woe: pictures lost forever, or the 20-page report gone. Even if your organization is backing up your files, you might be working on a report at home on your local hard drive and can lose all your hard work there. And, though we hear these stories and wince in commiseration, some of us still aren’t taking the proper steps to backup our files. Here’s how OneDrive can come in.  

OneDrive is going to be way more stable than counting on your PC, or possibly even your company’s backup system, depending on how robust it is. Remember those friends who lost their pictures and reports? Most likely it was due to hard drive failure, or maybe theft or a power surge. Now, that’s not to say that Microsoft’s servers aren’t susceptible to these types of issues, but guess what? They don’t have one measly hard drive to store your files. They have a complex system of hard drives and servers and datacenters and redundant datacenters to make sure they don’t have to come to you with egg on their face saying: whoops, sorry we lost all of your files.  

While OneDrive is great, the truth is you shouldn’t count on it alone. You also should have another backup of your files somewhere else. That might be on an external USB hard drive, or your organizations network drive if you have one, or it might be back to where we started: on your PC’s hard drive.   

You also might not want to put sensitive documents on OneDrive. Although files are not shared with others by default and you must choose to enable this sharing feature, the truth is your files are on Microsoft’s infrastructure where might you want to keep these tax returns or torrid love letters instead?  

That external USB hard drive and …. your PC’s hard drive. Yeah. So….  

The moral of the story is while you might not be able to completely ditch your PC’s hard drive, you can use OneDrive to move away from making it a primary location for your documents and use it more as a supplement to cloud-based storage.  

To learn even more about OneDrive and see it in action, click here:  

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 By Heather Walsh