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When to Use OneDrive

This article applies to: Microsoft Document Storage , OneDrive

OneDrive is your personal cloud storage. Aside from a few exceptions (see below), anything you create or store there is private to you, unless you choose to share it.

While sharing from OneDrive is convenient and easy, before doing so, you might first want to check to see if one of Office 365's collaboration platforms, like Teams or SharePoint, would work better. The reason is the more sharing that's done from OneDrive on a file-by-file or folder-by-folder basis, the harder it will be to keep track of who has access to what. OneDrive does provide information like icons or the Shared by me tab to help, but the more sharing that occurs in OneDrive, the more messy it can get.

This means in general, OneDrive is best for:

  • Documents only you will ever use, like personal Word files or private OneNote notebooks.
  • Draft materials that you will copy to someplace like Teams when you are ready for other people to view them.
  • Occasional one-time shares that aren't associated with a fixed group, so other forms of sharing are cumbersome, and you just need to provide brief access to.
Some OneDrive folders, like Microsoft Teams Chat Files, contain shared files. In this case they are files that were shared in Teams one-on-one or group chats. If you ever need to review sharing for a file, click the three dots next to the name of the file and select Manage Access.

An Example Use of OneDrive

If someone emails you a Word document that you want to work on alone for a while before sharing to a group for collaboration, OneDrive could be a secure, convenient place for your solo part of the effort.

If someone receives a Word document as an email attachment in Outlook on the web:

  1. They can click the down arrow for the attachment and use the option Save to OneDrive.
  2. Once the file is there, clicking it will launch Word Online. The file will automatically save as it is updated. There is an option to return to an earlier version of the document if desired.
  3. When the draft is ready for group work, if the group is using a Teams channel, the draft can be copied to it by using the Attach (paper clip icon) function in the team channel, selecting OneDrive, then browsing to the file. Either a copy can be loaded into the channel's Files section, or a link can be provided that points back to the file in OneDrive and provides permissions. As outlined above the upload to Teams may be best to avoid the risk of confusion later.


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