Microsoft OneDrive review
Microsoft OneDrive is the replacement for SkyDrive, Microsoft’s alternative to Dropbox or Google Drive. Upon installation Microsoft OneDrive creates a folder inside Mac OS X. Files you place into the OneDrive folder are synced to an online server and copied to other Mac or PCs running OneDrive.
Files you sync with OneDrive can also be opened using the OneDrive app for iOS and other devices, such as the Xbox One console. If you’ve used other file sharing services, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, then you’ll feel right at home. OneDrive is a great way to access files, such as documents, photos and movies from a Mac or an iPad, iPhone, or view video files on a television.
Our OneDrive review for Mac looks at the following:
- How to download, setup and start using OneDrive for Mac
- Is OneDrive for Mac worth paying for?
- How does OneDrive work with Microsoft Office Online
But OneDrive isn’t the only file sharing service in town. Microsoft has strong competition from household names such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Apple’s new Documents In The Cloud service.
How to use OneDrive
Setting up Microsoft OneDrive couldn’t be easier. You download the OneDrive app from the App Store. If you already have a Microsoft account, you use that to sign in. Or go through the setup process to get an Outlook.com email address. If you have a Live.com or Hotmail.com email address and password, you can use that.
During the setup process, you will be asked with folder you want to use for OneDrive. As with Dropbox and Google Drive this is the folder that you use to sync files. Simply drag and drop any folders or files into the OneDrive folder to access them on other computers.
The OneDrive iOS app is also available from the App Store. With it, you can access files from Mac OS X on an iPhone or iPad. You can also set up OneDrive to send pictures snapped on your iPhone (or iPad) from the Camera Roll to OneDrive.
How quickly does OneDrive copy files
To test Microsoft OneDrive we copied a set of Documents, Movies and Photos totalling 1GB in size to a OneDrive folder on a Mac Pro. We used a stopwatch to time how long it would take to copy the files to another MacBook Pro computer running on the same network.
Unlike Dropbox, OneDrive does not have any local network functionality. So if you have two computers running on the same network it makes no difference. OneDrive still has to copy the files to the central OneDrive server and then download them back down to your other Mac.
No test like this can be truly representative, because it depends on the speed of the upload and download. In our case, we are running at 18.92Mbps download and 11.35Mbps Upload. It also depends on the server speed at Microsoft’s end (which we assume works at different rates). However, it is worth noting that it isn’t as speedy as you’d like. It took 43:02 mins for our 1GB selection of files to make it from one Mac to the other.
How much does OneDrive cost?
Microsoft is offering a pretty good deal for OneDrive. You get a generous 7GB of storage free, and another 3GB for turning on Photo Backup and 5GB per referral. It’s pretty easy to get up to 15GB of free storage space for life, all of which puts it in the same space as Google Drive (which offers 15GB for free) and far ahead of the miserly 2GB offered by Dropbox.
Unlike other cloud services, you pay for OneDrive's storage plans yearly: for £16, you get 60GB of storage space for a year, or if you pay the £79.99 for Office 365 you get 30GB of storage for a year as well as access to the Microsoft Office 365 software suite.
How does OneDrive compare to Dropbox?
OneDrive’s pricing compares extremely favourably to Dropbox, which is charging $9.99 per month for 100GB of space. Google on the other hand has just announced a huge price cut for Google Drive, which now costs just $1.99 per month for 100GB of space, or $9.99 per month for a whopping 1TB of space.
So it’s clear that both Google and Microsoft are keen to steal Dropbox customers, and they have the service and price to match. Both are offering a good amount of storage for around £1.50 per month (a price you’re not going to quibble about).
What extra features do I get using OneDrive?
Perhaps more important aspects to consider with both Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive are the additional features. Both offer - at heart - a service functionally identical to Dropbox. However, they bought combine this with document editing functionality. In Microsoft's case, it is close interaction with Microsoft Office Online, and with Google Drive it is close integration with Google Docs. Both combine document creation and editing alongside the regular file storage and sharing.
Whether you find Microsoft Office Online to be your office editing program of choice, or prefer to use Google Docs, either service offers free online editing and sharing of documents. The Google Drive app enables you to create and edit documents on an iPhone or iPad (as long as you have a data connection). Microsoft still hasn't released a version of Microsoft Office for the iPad, however, although news sources suggest it will do so soon. Our personal preference at the moment is for Google Docs, due to better sharing services and its fantastic Google-powered spell checker. But most people who work end up having to open, and edit, a Microsoft Office document at some point. And having a system set up for working with Office Documents makes a lot of sense.
Should I pay for OneDrive if I have an Xbox One?
Where OneDrive makes more sense is if you own the Xbox One console. OneDrive is integration with Microsoft’s console (which is itself an effective media player) make it a good choice for streaming video, photographs and music. If you own a Xbox One console, we’d suggest setting up OneDrive Mac and testing it out.
Is the OneDrive app for iPad and iPhone worth getting?
Microsoft’s OneDrive app for iOS is a neat way to access files on the go. It has a square icon-based folder system (instead of the list system used in other files). File types supported by iOS, such as regular image formats, MP3 music, QuickTime movies and so on, will all appear inside the OneDrive app. Other file types can be opening with apps that support that file type. You can share files and folders from inside the OneDrive app by emailing a link to people. And you can add and remove sharing permissions for people. We found the OneDrive app to be pleasingly functional, without offering too many frills.
The area where OneDrive falls down is with iOS integration into other apps. There are a wide range of apps on the App Store, such as Byword, Notability and Scanner Pro that all support Dropbox (and the last two support Google Drive) but not OneDrive. It’s clear that developers are prioritising Dropbox and iCloud over Google Drive, and especially over OneDrive. So this lack of wider iOS support is perhaps a problem.
OneDrive is a good alternative to Dropbox that performs largely the same function. While OneDrive good value, the recent price drop from Google Drive (which offers a largely similar service) has taken some of the wind out of OneDrive's sails. However you do get integration with Office Online, and if Microsoft brings decent Office support to the IPad it could be a game changer. Dropbox has developer support on its side, and Google Drive has Google Docs and price on its. As it stands, OneDrive is a cheap way to sync files between your Macs and access them on the IPad. OneDrive is also a great service for Xbox One owners. But if it came to putting our money down we’d go with Google Drive or Dropbox instead.