9 Must-Know Microsoft OneDrive Tips: Get More from Windows Cloud Storage

Microsoft’s cloud storage doesn’t need to take a backseat to Dropbox, Google Drive, and others. OneDrive offers some surprising features and automatically backs up important data.

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The practicality of cloud or online storage has many reasons: as long as you have an internet connection, you can access your data from anywhere, regardless of the terminal device.

Synchronization ensures that content is always up to date no matter where you are. Photos, screenshots, and other files can be automatically backed up, files can be shared, browser settings and passwords can be synced, and (at least for Microsoft OneDrive) system and application settings can be synchronized.

Unlike Dropbox or Google Drive, OneDrive is deeply integrated into the operating system and can even run on computers running Windows 11.

Here, we provide a detailed overview of Microsoft Cloud, offer tips, and explain the functional differences between various Microsoft subscriptions.

Setting up OneDrive is the same even when using a local Windows account.

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Practical: Similar to Dropbox and Google Drive, OneDrive stores photos from your smartphone in the cloud and automatically syncs them to your PC.


You can access OneDrive cloud storage in a browser or through the Windows app. It comes pre-installed in Windows 11 or can be installed on Windows 10. The version in the Microsoft Store is outdated.

If you log into Windows 11 with a Microsoft account anyway, OneDrive is ready to use right away. However, you can also use OneDrive with a local Windows account. To do this, sign in with your Microsoft account in a browser or launch the OneDrive app and sign in.

With this login option, you can choose whether the account link is limited to the app only. This decision does not change your Windows login information; local accounts remain local.

When setting up the app, you can change the storage location of cloud content local copies, including changing to different hard drives or partitions. You can also specify which folders Windows Backup should save.


Our advice: If you don’t subscribe to additional storage space, disable all folders here or click “I’ll do it later.” Also, decline any upgrade options that temporarily appear.

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During the OneDrive setup process, it may appear like a typical ad, but it’s crucial: a reference to the different status icons for files and folders.


If you also want to install OneDrive on your smartphone, it’s recommended to enable the “Activate camera backup” option in the mobile app. This will automatically save all recordings to the cloud and synchronize them to your computer. The default setting is to back up photos and screenshots; WhatsApp images and videos can be added as well.

Here are three getting started tips:

  1. After setting up OneDrive on your desktop and taking the first screenshot, the app will offer the option to automatically back up all other screenshots to the cloud.
  2. Secondly, we recommend always launching OneDrive from your PC, as this can speed up data synchronization. To do this, open Task Manager and click on the “Startup” tab at the top (Windows 10) or the “Startup apps” tab on the left (Windows 11). Right-click on OneDrive to enable automatic startup.
  3. Thirdly, you can also change and customize all OneDrive options later in the app’s “Settings,” including logging out of your Microsoft account.

Triple your free storage space and utilize premium features

If you’ve had a Hotmail, Live, or Outlook account for a long time, you can still access the initially offered 15GB of free cloud storage. All other users only have 5GB of free space. However, you can also extend this to 15GB by recommending it to friends and acquaintances. Long-term users can even get up to 25GB due to “loyalty bonuses.”


Here’s how it works: Log into your account in the browser and click on the gear icon (“Settings”) in the top right corner.

You can send invitation links through “Options > Referral bonus > Earn more.” Each accepted invitation will give you an extra 500MB of space, for a total of up to 10GB.

The various features of OneDrive also depend on whether you sign in to Microsoft for free or have a paid subscription. Options here include the “Basic” version for $20 per year or Microsoft 365 with all Office features and 1TB of storage.


According to Microsoft, some features are only available in paid subscriptions. But this isn’t always the case. For example, folder backup on PCs, such as images, documents, and desktop, can indeed be done through the Windows Backup app.

As mentioned earlier, the mobile app also uploads smartphone photos to the cloud. File searches by date and keyword are not as limited as Microsoft claims, as long as you add local backups in Windows indexing options.

Editing documents anytime, anywhere on a smartphone requires more steps: you first have to download the file to the mobile device, edit it there, and then upload it again. Password-protected file sharing cannot be directly created in OneDrive, but there’s little additional work involved in creating password-protected zip archives using 7-Zip.

Microsoft’s comments on version history suggest that changes to OneDrive files can only be reset through a paid subscription. However, you can always call up and download any version of a document and undo changes in the browser.


Lastly, the personal vault (an area that provides special protection for sensitive content through fingerprint, facial recognition, SMS code, or other second factors) is limited to three files for free.

Cloud files can also be edited offline on a Windows PC.

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This option in OneDrive settings ensures that all cloud content is stored locally, so you can use it without an internet connection.


For space reasons, Microsoft does not by default store all cloud content on your PC’s hard drive. But which data is stored only in the cloud, and which data does Windows also store locally?

Explorer shows all files in the OneDrive folder, but the differences only become clear upon closer inspection: a blue cloud next to a file or folder indicates “online only,” a green checkmark on a white background means “also available locally,” and a green circle with a checkmark means “always keep on this device.”

You can change the status of individual files and directories in Explorer by right-clicking on them and selecting “OneDrive > …”. If your hard drive is large enough, you can store all cloud content locally in parallel. This way, even without an internet connection, you can access all files on your PC, and any changes you make temporarily will sync automatically to the cloud later.

To make a complete local copy, right-click the OneDrive icon in the computer taskbar and proceed to “Settings > Sync and Backup > Advanced Settings.” Scroll down and click the “Download all files” button under “On-Demand Files” to continue. Depending on the amount of data, the download may take some time.

Recycle bin, OneDrive for Business, photo editing, and more

As mentioned at the beginning, you can use OneDrive on your PC through the browser or (the recommended option) the app. This is because Windows tools provide common file management functions of File Explorer, including drag-and-drop and (if set up) offline access to files.

When you delete files, the app notifies you that the process will remove the files from all linked devices, unlike in the browser. Additionally, when deleted through the app, the content also goes to the Windows Recycle Bin, whereas when deleted in the browser, it only goes to the online Recycle Bin.


Finally, further tips and tools:

  • In addition to the (private) OneDrive app discussed in this article, you can easily use “OneDrive for Business” in parallel on the same PC. In the first app, you log in with your personal account (free or Microsoft 365), and in the business app, you use your school, university, or company account.
  • You can directly edit photos stored on OneDrive in your browser and apply filters.
  • The OneDrive drive appears in Windows Explorer without a drive letter. If this is important for further processing data with other tools, Raidrive will add a letter.

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The Raidrive tool assigns real drive letters to cloud storage, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive, on Windows computers.

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