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How does OneDrive work?

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Article SummaryOneDrive stores your files in the cloud. Local files get synchronized to the cloud, and then are available to all connected devices.

How does OneDrive work

Set it up

  • Download and install the OneDrive app on your local computer or open the Desktop app in Windows 10 and
  • follow the prompts to synchronize it with a folder on your computer, lets say the folder is called myLocal OneDrive folder.

Basic operation

Now let's look at OneDrive with a local file on your computer.
  1. You are working on an MS Word document on your computer, and you save it on your computer in myLocal OneDrive folder.
  2. The file is stored on your local computer, but when OneDrive syncs that folder with its cloud storage it will see the change and update its storage with the new file.
  3. After that sync happens, any device that you use to connect to your OneDrive storage will see that new MS Word document and be able to access it.
  4. Any time a connected device changes that MS Word document, when OneDrive syncs it will pick up that change and make it available to all connected devices.

Version History

OneDrive tracks different versions of a file as well. If you open OneDrive in your browser (using LiveAC and Office365), right-click on a file and select Version History. It will display all the different versions of that file from when changes were made, the file was saved, and it was synced with OneDrive. Also in the browser, there is a ribbon menu at the top that has Version History as an option.

Deleting files

You delete files like you always have, but when you delete a file and OneDrive syncs it is deleted for all devices.

Multiple Devices all making changes to a file

Since multiple devices can access the same file at the same time, they could all be changing the file at the same time. For this reason, all changes are timestamped, and the most recent change takes presidence.

Sharing files

Multiple people working on the same file or folder of files is much easier in OneDrive since the changes are synced across multiple devices at the same time. When collaborating like this, you can set permissions on files and folders to give different groups of people read only (view only), or change and delete the file as well as read it (can edit).
If you are simply sending a file in an email to someone, you can right-click on the file in OneDrive and select Get Link. This allows you to send a link to the file instead of the whole file, and you can choose different links depending on the permissions you want that person to have. This keeps the single copy of the file, and prevents "versionitis" where there are multiple copies floating around and nobody knows which copy should be in use.
Note: When using OneDrive in your browser, if you click on a file an information panel appears on the right of the screen with information about the file including who it has been shared with and what permissions they have.



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