If you’re an Office 365 customer, you’re already paying for it. So why do so many businesses and even individuals not take advantage of OneDrive for Business? I usually find that it’s because they don’t understand the service and what it offers them. But it begs the question: where are you keeping your work documents and files? Are they on a network drive? Do you save everything to your “My Documents” library? Or are you a fan of storing everything in your Dropbox? OneDrive for Business offers benefits over all of these options, and it’s just as easy to use as all of them.
There are a lot of problems with using network drives for file storage. They’re normally difficult to reach on a cell phone or tablet. They usually require a VPN connection to reach from outside of the business. It costs money to back them up, both in terms of personnel and in equipment and media. And when you make changes to a document, they’re permanent. There’s no “undo,” once you close it.
If you save everything to your “My Documents,” they may not be backed up at all! If your computer dies or is stolen, you would lose everything that you hadn’t manually backed up to another location, something most of us rarely do. If you’re lucky, your IT department has gone to the trouble of automatically backing up your “My Documents” for you, but all of the problems associated with saving your valuable files to a network drive also apply to using your “My Documents” library. Unfortunately, many companies do not allow the use of Dropbox on their networks. They have valid security concerns, in particular when it comes to personal Dropbox accounts.
However, if you’re an Office 365 customer, you can get the benefits of a cloud-based solution, like Dropbox, for free and without many of the limitations. So what is it, and how do you get it? If you’re lucky enough to have an IT help desk to handle things like this, put in a ticket to have OneDrive for Business installed for you. If you normally handle installs yourself, or you want to also synchronize with your home computer, it’s an easy install.
When you log into Office 365, click “OneDrive” on the top menu. If you don’t see it, click the ellipsis (“…”), and then click “OneDrive” on its menu. Your document library’s web page will be displayed, and you could use the library through your web browser without installing anything, but the real power of OneDrive for Business is the automatic synchronization of all of your computers with the OneDrive library. And that requires a quick installation.
Click “Sync” on the document library’s ribbon, and on the dialog box that appears, click “Sync Now.” If the OneDrive for Business software isn’t already installed on your computer it will provide a page for downloading and installing the software. After the installation, when you open Windows Explorer and when you save a file from Microsoft Office, you will have OneDrive favorite with its blue, two-cloud logo. Its name will have your company name or the name of your Office 365 site, so that if you have more than one OneDrive, you can tell them apart.
You can move all of your important documents to this new location, and they will synchronize to your OneDrive and eventually to all other computers that you configure. When you save from any Office application, the favorite will be available in the “Save As” screen. If you ever need to save from a non-Office application, the folder is actually available on your c-drive in the “Users” folder, under your username, and is named the same as the favorite. In my case, it’s found here: “C:\Users\dfrankland\OneDrive – B2B Technologies LLC”.
Microsoft has announced that it is doing away with storage limits on the OneDrive document libraries for Office 365 subscribers in 2015. Some lucky users who signed up early for the increase are already enjoying storage without limits! Soon, you will be too. When my personal Office 365 account gets the upgrade, I plan to move every document, photo, MP3, etc. on my home PC into my OneDrive.
It might take a little while to synchronize, but when it’s done, I’ll get the following benefits:
• Access to my files from just about any smart phone or tablet with an Internet connection
• My files will be backed up in the cloud in case of a disaster
So, if you’ve ever been concerned with losing all of your important folders, documents and pictures but don’t want to go through the hassle of finding enough external storage or time to back everything up manually, OneDrive for Business is the way to go! It saves so much time and has more offers more space than you can ever imagine using.