Microsoft’s brand for their Cloud Services is Microsoft 365. This is a little confusing as it covers its free and paid services as well as personal and business products. We are just going to focus on the personal product in this section.
When you set up a Windows computer, Microsoft requires you to create a Microsoft account using an email address. You can use either an existing email address (like Gmail) or create a new one using a Microsoft domain (outlook.com or hotmail.com).
A basic Microsoft account has access to the following free services:
The limitations of these services are the following:
- Office for the web only includes the web based version of Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, not the full desktop products. However these products are fine for simple home usage.
- OneDrive storage starts at 15 GB. This can fill up very quickly if you decide to use it as your main cloud storage
How to use OneDrive as your main cloud storage
OneDrive gives you the possibility of synchronizing most of the personal content (documents, photos and videos) in your Windows PC to your OneDrive cloud storage. This means that not only your content is safe in case of failure but it also offers additional features such as restoring older versions of documents.
To achieve this, right-click on the OneDrive app in the taskbar on your PC and choose “Settings”. Then click on the “Back up” tab, and “Manage back up”.
Once you click on “Start back up”, all the content of your Desktop, Documents folder and Picture folder will be copied to OneDrive and then redirected to OneDrive. What it means is that from now on, every file or photo that you save in one of these three places will be automatically uploaded to OneDrive.
This is a very powerful way of making sure that your data is safe even if your computer fails. You can always access your data online from https://onedrive.live.com or by using the Apple or Android OneDrive apps.
You can also restore previous versions of Microsoft Office documents as show above (or from within the document).
Upgrading to Microsoft 365
You could very well choose OneDrive as your single cloud storage between Windows, Apple and Android devices. However this requires an upgrade to a paid version of Microsoft 365 as 15GB of storage will not get you very far. Please note this section does not cover setting Apple or Android devices.
Microsoft offers the possibility of upgrading just OneDrive to 100GB but this will not give you any extra feature and cannot be shared with other family members. If you manage a family, I recommend that you subscribe to Microsoft 365 Family instead.
This will provide you with full versions of Microsoft Office applications (Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint) on Windows, Apple and Android platforms as well as 1TB of cloud storage per person, for up to 6 family members, plus advanced security and safety tools. See here for more information.
As I am not currently using Microsoft 365 Family, I cannot show any of the advanced features in this section.