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OneDrive logo.svg
OneDrive screenshot.png
OneDrive, as it appears in a web browser
Type of site
File hosting service
Available in 107 languages[1]
Owner Microsoft
Launched August 1, 2007; 9 years ago (2007-08-01)

OneDrive (previously SkyDrive, Windows Live SkyDrive, and Windows Live Folders) is a file-hosting service operated by Microsoft as part of its suite of online services. It allows users to store files as well as other personal data like Windows settings or BitLocker recovery keys in the cloud. Files can be synced to a PC and accessed from a web browser or a mobile device, as well as shared publicly or with specific people.

OneDrive offers 5 GB of storage space for free;[2] additional storage can be added either separately or through subscriptions to other Microsoft services like Office 365[2] and Groove Music.[3]


Windows Live Folders logo
Logo as "SkyDrive"

At its launch the service, known as Windows Live Folders at the time (with a codename of SkyDrive), was provided as a limited beta available to a few testers in the United States.[4] On August 1, 2007, the service was expanded to a wider audience. Shortly thereafter, on August 9, 2007, the service was renamed Windows Live SkyDrive and made available to testers in the United Kingdom and India.[5] As of 22 May 2008 SkyDrive was initially available in 38 countries and regions.,[6] later expanded to 62.[7] On December 2, 2008, the capacity of an individual SkyDrive account was upgraded from 5 GB to 25 GB, and Microsoft added a separate entry point called Windows Live Photos which allowed users to access their photos and videos stored on SkyDrive. This entry point allowed users to add "People tags" to their photos, download photos into Windows Photo Gallery or as a ZIP file, as well as viewing Exif metadata such as camera information for the photos uploaded. Microsoft also added the ability to have full-screen slide shows for photos using Silverlight.

SkyDrive was updated to "Wave 4" release on June 7, 2010, and added the ability to work with Office Web Apps (now known as Office Online), with versioning. In this update, due to the discontinuation of Windows Live Toolbar, the ability to synchronise and share bookmarked web links between users via SkyDrive was also discontinued. However, users were still able to use Windows Live Mesh, which replaced the previous Windows Live Favorites, to synchronize their favorites between computers until its discontinuation in February 2013.[8]

In June 2010, users of Office Live Workspace, released in October 2007,[9] were migrated to Windows Live Office. The migration included all existing workspaces, documents, and sharing permissions.[10] The merger of the two services is a result of Microsoft's decision to merge its Office Live team into Windows Live back in January 2009,[11] as well as several deficiencies with Office Live Workspace, which lacked high-fidelity document viewing and did not allow files to be edited from within the web browser.[12] Office Live Workspace also did not offer offline collaboration and co-authoring functionality – instead documents were "checked out" and "checked in", though the service did integrate with SharedView for real-time screen sharing.

On June 20, 2011, Microsoft overhauled the user interface for SkyDrive, built using HTML5 technologies. The updated version featured caching, hardware acceleration, HTML5 video, quick views, cleaner arrangement of photos and infinite scrolling. Microsoft also doubled the file size limit from 50 MB to 100 MB per file. With this update, Microsoft consolidated the different entry points for SkyDrive, such as Windows Live Photos and Windows Live Office, into one single interface. Files and folders shared with a user, including those in Windows Live Groups, were also accessible in the new interface.[13] On November 29, 2011, Microsoft updated SkyDrive to make sharing and file management easier, as well as HTML5 and other updates. This update also allowed users to see how much storage they had (and how much they had used), a feature that had been removed in the previous update as part of the redesign.[14]

On December 3, 2011, Microsoft released SkyDrive apps for iOS and Windows Phone, which are available in the App Store and Windows Phone Store respectively. On April 22, 2012, Microsoft released a SkyDrive desktop app for Windows Vista, 7 and 8, as well as macOS, allowing users to synchronize files on SkyDrive, much like Windows Live Mesh, and to "fetch" files on their computer via the web browser. In addition, SkyDrive also provided additional storage available for purchase and reduced the free storage space for new users to 7 GB (from 25 GB). Existing users were offered a free upgrade offer to retain their 25 GB of free storage. The updated SkyDrive also allowed files up to 2 GB in size (uploaded via the SkyDrive desktop app).[15] The update also brought additional features such as Open Document Format (ODF) capability, URL shortening services and direct sharing of files to Twitter.

On August 14, 2012, Microsoft announced a new update for SkyDrive which brought changes and improvements to, SkyDrive for Windows desktop and OS X, and the SkyDrive API as part of Live Connect. For, the updates brought a new "modern" design for the web service consistent with, and along with the UI update the service also received improvements such as instant search, contextual toolbar, multi-select in thumbnail view, drag-and-drop files into folders, and sorting improvements. For the SkyDrive for Windows desktop and macOS applications, the update brought new performance improvements to photo uploads and the sync experience. The update also improved the SkyDrive API with the removal of file type restrictions, ability to upload images in their full resolution, as well as a new SkyDrive file picker for opening and saving files.[16] On August 28, 2012, Microsoft released a SkyDrive app for Android on Google Play store.[17] On September 18, 2012, Microsoft also introduced a recycle bin feature on SkyDrive and announced that SkyDrive will allow users to create online surveys via Excel Web App.[18]

BSkyB lawsuit and OneDrive renaming[edit]

Microsoft became involved in a lawsuit with British television broadcaster BSkyB for using the word "Sky", resulting in a High Court ruling in June 2013 that the service's brand breached BSkyB's trademark.[19] On July 31, 2013, in a joint press release between BSkyB and Microsoft, it was announced that a settlement had been reached and as a result the SkyDrive name would be dropped. BSkyB allowed Microsoft to continue using the brand "for a reasonable period of time to allow for an orderly transition to a new brand".[20] On January 27, 2014, Microsoft announced that "SkyDrive" would become "OneDrive".[21][22] The re-branding took effect across most platforms on February 19, 2014.[23]

On June 18, 2015, Microsoft launched an improved design of OneDrive for the web.[24]

On November 2, 2015, Microsoft revealed that it will be removing the unlimited storage plan for Office 365 Home, Personal and University packages and that the free OneDrive storage will be reduced from 15 GB to only 5 GB; this change also affects people who have subscribed to 100 GB and 200 GB paid plans as those plans will be replaced by a 50 GB plan which will cost $1.99 per month. These OneDrive changes are scheduled to go live in early 2016. These changes caused major controversy with users, some of whom have since setup petitions to try to get Microsoft to reverse the plans. For example, as of November 21, 2015, over 70,000 people took to the official OneDrive uservoice to voice their concerns.[25] According to Microsoft these changes were done because people were abusing the service by using OneDrive for PC backups, storing entire movie collections and DVR recordings.[26]



As of 2016 the service offers 5 GB of free storage for new users.[27] Additional storage is available for purchase.[28]

The amount of storage available has changed several times. Initially, the service provided 7 GB of storage and, for one year, an additional 3 GB of free storage to students.[29] Users who signed up to OneDrive prior to April 22, 2012 were able to opt-in for a limited time offer of 25 GB of free storage upgrade. The service is built using HTML5 technologies,[13] and files up to 300 MB can be uploaded via drag and drop into the web browser,[30] or up to 10 GB via the OneDrive desktop application for Microsoft Windows and OS X.[31] From September 23, 2013 onwards, in addition to 7 GB of free storage (or 25 GB for users eligible for the free upgrade), power users who required more storage could choose from one of four premium storage plans.[32]

Users in some regions may need to have a certain payment card or PayPal account to pay.[33] The paid storage plan is renewed automatically each year unless Microsoft or the user cancels the service.[34]

Upon the re-launch as OneDrive, monthly payment plans were introduced, along with the ability to earn up to 5 GB of free storage for referring new users to OneDrive (500 MB each), and 3 GB if users enable automatic uploads of photos using the OneDrive mobile apps on smartphones.[23] Subscribers to Office 365's home-oriented plans also receive additional storage for use with the service, with 20 GB per user.[35]

In June 2014 it was announced that OneDrive's default storage would increase to 15 GB, putting it in line with the amount of storage offered by its competitor Google Drive. An additional 15 GB were offered for activating camera roll backup on a mobile device, putting it ahead of Google Drive until November 2015, when this bonus was cancelled. The amount of additional storage for Office 365 subscribers also increased to 1 TB.[35] Microsoft reduced the price of OneDrive storage subscriptions at that time.

In October 2014 Microsoft announced that it would offer unlimited OneDrive storage to all Office 365 subscribers.[36] However, on November 3, 2015, the 1 TB cap was reinstated. Microsoft additionally announced the planned replacement of its 100 GB and 200 GB plans with a new 50 GB plan in early 2016, and the reduction of free storage from 15 GB to 5 GB. Any current accounts over this limit will continue to keep the increased storage for at least 12 months.[37][27][38] Following calls for Microsoft to reverse the reduction decision, Microsoft announced on December 11 of the same year that it would allow existing users to request to have up to 30GB of free storage unaffected by the reduction, and said it would fully refund customers of Office 365 not satisfied with the 1TB cap, among other redress.[39]


OneDrive does not store previous versions of each file in the way that Dropbox and Google Drive do. This means that any mistake or corruption made to a local file may simply be copied into the cloud with no method of recovery. There is some versioning for Microsoft Office format files, but not for files in general.[40]

Recycle bin[edit]

OneDrive implements a "recycle bin"; files the user chooses to delete are stored there for a time, without counting as part of the user's allocation, and can be reinstated until they are ultimately purged from OneDrive.[18]

Download as ZIP files[edit]

Entire folders can be downloaded as a single ZIP file with OneDrive. For a single download, there is a limit of 4 GB or 65,000 files (whichever comes first).[clarification needed][citation needed]


Office Online[edit]

Microsoft added Office Online (known at the time as Office Web Apps) capability to OneDrive in its "Wave 4" update, allowing users to upload, create, edit and share Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents directly within a web browser. In addition, Office Online allows multiple users to simultaneously co-author Excel documents in a web browser, and co-author OneNote documents with another web user or the desktop application. Users can also view the version history of Office documents stored on OneDrive.[41]


OneDrive allows the viewing of PDF documents,[14] as well as documents in the Open Document Format (ODF), an XML-based file format supported by a number of word processing applications, including Microsoft Office, LibreOffice, and Corel's WordPerfect.[42] OneDrive's search function does not allow search within PDF documents, however.[citation needed]

Plain text editing[edit]

OneDrive includes an online text editor that allows users to view and edit files in plain text format, such as text files and batch files. Syntax highlighting and code completion is available for a number of programming and markup languages, including C#, Visual Basic, JavaScript, Windows PowerShell, CSS, HTML, XML, PHP and Java. This online editor includes a find-and-replace feature and a way to manage file merging conflicts.[43][44]

Photos and videos[edit]

OneDrive can use geo-location data for photos uploaded to the service, and will automatically display a map of the tagged location. OneDrive also allows users to tag people in photos uploaded via the web interface or via Windows Photo Gallery.

Photos uploaded to OneDrive can be played as an automatic slideshow.

Client applications[edit]

OneDrive client
OneDrive Windows Phone screenshot.png
OneDrive app running on Windows Phone
Developer(s) Microsoft
Stable release(s) [±]
Android 4.9 / 26 January 2017; 21 days ago (2017-01-26)[17]
iOS 8.6.1 / 17 December 2016; 61 days ago (2016-12-17)[45]
macOS 17.3.6725.105 / 10 January 2017; 37 days ago (2017-01-10)[46]
Windows, desktop 17.3.6743.1212 / 23 January 2017; 24 days ago (2017-01-23)[47]
Windows, UWP 17.15.6[48]
Type File manager, file synchronization

Microsoft has released OneDrive client applications for Android,[17] iOS,[49] Windows 8,[15][33] Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile,[50] Windows Phone[49] Xbox 360,[51] and Xbox One[23] that allow users to browse, view and organize files stored on their OneDrive cloud storage. In addition, Microsoft also released desktop applications for Microsoft Windows (Vista and later) and OS X (10.7 Lion and later)[52] that allow users to synchronize their entire OneDrive storage with their computers for offline access, as well as between multiple computers.[53] The OneDrive client for Windows allows users to "fetch" the contents of their PCs via the web browser, provided the user enabled this option; macOS users can fetch from a PC, but not vice versa. The Android, iOS and Windows Phone 8 versions also allow camera photos to automatically be uploaded to OneDrive.[23] Upon the re-branding as OneDrive, the Xbox One app also added achievements.[54]

In addition to the client apps, OneDrive is integrated into Windows 8.1 and later, Microsoft Office 2010 and later, as well as the Office and Photos hub in Windows Phone, enabling users to access documents, photos and videos stored on their OneDrive account. OneDrive in Windows 8.1 can sync user settings and files, through either the included OneDrive app (originally called SkyDrive, until the name was changed with a Windows update[55]) or File Explorer, deprecating the previous Windows client. Along with the use of reparse points, these changes allow files to be accessed directly from OneDrive as if they are stored locally. The OneDrive app was also updated to include a local file manager. Unlike on Windows 8, use of OneDrive on Windows 8.1 requires the user's Windows account be linked to a Microsoft account; the previous OneDrive desktop client (which did not have this requirement) no longer works on Windows 8.1. Additionally, the Fetch feature does not work on Windows 8.1.[23][53][56][57]

Integration with Microsoft Office[edit]

Users of recent versions of Microsoft Office (for Windows or macOS) can use the desktop Office applications to simultaneously edit the same section of documents stored on OneDrive. Changes are synchronized when users save the document, and where conflicts occur, the saving user can choose which version to keep.[58] Users can also use several different desktop and web programs to edit the same document. Starting with Office 2016, OneDrive integration can be disabled in the settings of the OneDrive app.

Microsoft OneNote users can sync one or more of their notebooks using OneDrive. Once a notebook is selected for sharing, OneDrive copies the notebook from the user's computer to OneDrive, and that online copy then becomes the original for all future changes. The originating copy remains on the user's hard drive but is no longer updated by OneNote. Users can switch back to an offline-only version of the notebook by manually changing its location in OneNote, but unpredictable results may occur, including the OneNote application crashing and loss of notebook data under certain conditions.[citation needed] Under such circumstances, re-sharing the Notebook to OneDrive may result in recovery of the lost data.[citation needed]


OneDrive allows users to embed their Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents into other web pages. These embedded documents allow anyone who visits these web pages to interact with them, such as browsing an embedded PowerPoint slideshow or perform calculations within an embedded Excel spreadsheet. In addition, Microsoft has released a set of APIs for OneDrive via Live Connect to enable developers to develop web services and client apps utilizing OneDrive's cloud storage.[59] This allows users of these web services and client apps to browse, view, upload or edit files stored on OneDrive. A software development kit (SDK) is available for .NET Framework, iOS, Android and Python with a limited set of API for web apps and Windows.[60]

OneDrive is already interoperable with a host of web services, including:

  • Allows users to:
    • Directly upload Office documents and photos within, store them on OneDrive and share them with other users.[61]
    • Directly save Office documents within to OneDrive, and view or edit these documents directly within the web browser.[62]
    • Edit Office documents within the web browser using Office Online and reply directly back to the sender with the edits made.[62][63]
  • Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn: Enables users to quickly share their files with their contacts on these social networks.[64] OneDrive maintains an access control list of all users with permissions to view or edit the files, including those users on social networks.[65]
  • Bing: Save & Share feature allows users to save search histories into a OneDrive folder.
  • Windows Live Groups: Before being discontinued, Windows Live Groups provided each group with 1 GB of storage space on OneDrive to be shared between the group members. Group members were allowed to access, create, modify and delete files within the group's OneDrive folders, along with the other functionality that OneDrive provides. However, these features eventually became native to OneDrive.

Privacy concerns[edit]

Data stored on OneDrive is subject to monitoring by Microsoft, and any content that is in violation of Microsoft's Code of Conduct is subject to removal and may lead to temporary or permanent shutdown of the account. This has led to privacy concerns in relation to data stored on OneDrive.[66] Microsoft has responded by indicating that "strict internal policies [are] in place to limit access to a user’s data", and that advanced mechanisms, such as Microsoft's automated PhotoDNA scanning tool, are utilized to ensure users abide with the Code of Conduct and that their account does not contain files in contravention thereof, such as partial human nudity (including art or drawings), or any online surveys.[67][68]

Regional availability[edit]

Due to Internet censorship in Iran, OneDrive is not available in that country.

OneDrive for Business[edit]

Microsoft has a similarly named but unrelated software plus service offering called OneDrive for Business (previously SkyDrive Pro[21][22]). While OneDrive is a personal storage service on the web, OneDrive for Business is a managed cloud storage for business users that replaces SharePoint Workspace. The physical medium on which the information is stored can be either hosted on-premises or purchased as service subscription from Microsoft.[69]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]