Storage technologies, including cloud-based services

OneDrive for Business 101-ish

I have been a long time Dropbox user.  I also have been a long time Office 365 Business User.  OneDrive was always subpar to Dropbox, but I kept an eye on it because I would like to eliminate the redundant expense for 1TB storage.  With the introduction of Files On-Demand with Windows 10 1709, OneDrive for Business and Personal are now much stronger contenders.  Dropbox Plus doesn’t have this feature via Smart Sync.  At double the cost, you have to upgrade to Dropbox Professional to get this service.  This means that if you synchronize a subset of folders/files (Selective Sync) to your local machine, you have to use a browser to determine if a folder or file in the cloud exists and set it up to sync.  A lot of extra steps.

Dropbox still has a simpler experience in general.  Managing the OneDrive client is confusing especially if you have multiple OneDrive accounts and have folders shared and synchronized (which creates landing folder separate locations).  It is made additionally confusing, but powerful, if you synchronize SharePoint Online files locally.

If you like simple, stick with Dropbox or other favorite file sync software.  Dropbox also offers long term file retention option (at an extra cost) in case you delete a folder or file and don’t check often.  If you have Office 365 (and all of its services) and are wiling to spend time to  learn its configuration, OneDrive is very useful.

Configuration OneDrive for Business

If you have OneDrive for Personal Setup

To add an Office 365 account (which accesses OneDrive for Business) or right-click on OneDrive in your Windows tray (typically on the lower right corner).  Select Settings.  Click Add an account button.  Enter in the credentials for your Office 365.

If you don’t have OneDrive for Personal Setup

OneDrive for Personal doesn’t need to be setup.  Open the OneDrive application (click Start and start typing OneDrive).  When it prompts for an account, enter in the Office 365 credentials.

Once OneDrive for Business is setup

A new OneDrive icon will appear in your Windows tray (it is currently a blue cloud icon).  Hovering with the mouse on the cloud icon will indicate which account is associated with the specific tray icon.  You can configure settings for each of the accounts by right-clicking on the cloud icon and selecting Settings.  This includes setting up Files On-Demand (currently not enabled by default with Windows 10 1709), Selective Sync, etc.

Accessing OneDrive files

This is where it gets a little weird until it becomes ingrained.  There are essentially three folders when using OneDrive for Personal, OneDrive for Business, synchronizing shared folders in OneDrive for Business (done by going to http://onedrive.live.com, selecting Shared with me, opening a desired folder, clicking Sync button) and synchronizing folders in SharePoint Online (opening the desired folder and clicking the Sync button).  Assume your Office 365 directory is called RecursiveGeek.  Your Windows profile will have the following folders:

  • OneDrive
  • OneDrive – RecursiveGeek Directory
  • RecursiveGeek Directory

The first folder is for OneDrive for Personal (folders and files setup to sync and, if enabled, Files On-Demand).  The second folder is your OneDrive for Business synchronized folders (folders and files setup to sync and, if enabled, Files On-Demand).  The third folder is your Sync folders from shared content (by other OneDrive for Business users) and SharePoint Online.

Conclusion

OneDrive for Business is really useful and has come a long way.  It would be nice if they cleaned up the UI with the OneDrive client in the Windows tray (single icon, single application that is managed in a single interface).  Files On-Demand is awesome, allowing you to conveniently and seamlessly access files in the cloud when not on the local drive to save space.  Dropbox Plus is no longer a compelling reason for me to use them and thus I will be dropping them once it is time to renew.