OneDrive Tips for Beginners & Pros

Published Oct 26 2020 08:00 AM 36.1K Views

Microsoft OneDrive lets you save files and photos securely online and access them from any device, virtually anywhere. From backing up files to sharing and collaborating, OneDrive has a lot of features for home, school and work that you may not have discovered yet. Let’s take a look at OneDrive tips for beginner and advanced users—and uncover how to use it to its maximum potential.


OneDrive tips for beginners
Here are some of the key things you can do with OneDrive, including how to get a free account if you haven't already.

  • Microsoft 365 subscriptions include 1TB of OneDrive storage--that’s enough to store 500,000 photos and thousands of docs1. Not a Microsoft 365 subscriber? Get 5GB of storage with a free OneDrive account.
  • Turn on PC folder backup to automatically sync your Windows Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders to OneDrive. Now, these folders are backed up, protected and available across all your devices.
  • Access your files and view your photos online by signing into your OneDrive account on the web. Also, if you lose your device or it crashes, you can always find your OneDrive files here.
  • When you're on the go, you can use the OneDrive mobile app to access or share files and photos right from your mobile device. Give yourself freedom to roam with OneDrive app for Android or iOS.
  • Use the OneDrive app on your phone to scan and save multiple pages of printed documents. Now everything from whiteboard notes and business cards, to receipts and to-go menus are there when you need them.
  • Automatically backup your phone’s camera roll to OneDrive to keep your favorite moments backed up, protected and all in one place. Once backed you’ll also have easy access to your photos across all your laptop, tablet or other devices. Note: Automatic camera roll backup can only be used on one account at a time. So if you have both a personal and work OneDrive account on your phone, you’ll need to pick one.
  • Easily share and collaborate on files, folders, and photos with colleagues, friends and family.
  • Use Personal Vault to add extra protection to sensitive photos and files, like social security cards, drivers licenses, passports and more.2 The free and 100 GB OneDrive plans allow you store 3 files in Personal Vault. Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscribers can store as many files as they want in Personal Vault, up to their storage limit.
  • Graduating from school and want to keep using your OneDrive? Use Mover (which is built into OneDrive for work and school) to transfer the files from your school account to your OneDrive personal account in just a few clicks.
  • Accidentally throw away a file? Track down deleted files quickly in the recycle bin which is available only on OneDrive for web.
  • Turn on AutoSave on your Word, Excel and PPT files. Now you have up-to-the-second versions saved, in case of a crash or battery running out.


OneDrive tips for pros
If you've been using OneDrive for a while, it might be time to take it to the next level. Here are a few advanced features that may help make life easier, while keeping your files and photos safer.

  • Add another layer of security to your OneDrive account by using two-step verification across your entire Microsoft account.
  • Need some extra space? Easily manage your storage by seeing how much you have left and what’s using up the most space.
  • Mark selected files for offline access on your phone or PC. That way, if you lose your internet connection you can still work on your files on your phone or PC.
  • Scan, sign and send a document with the OneDrive mobile app. From school permission slips to invoices and beyond, now you have a way to quickly scan, sign and send important documents on-the-go.
  • Get a quick summary of activity on shared files using the file details pane, including who the file is shared with, recent activity, file size/type and more.
  • Free up extra storage space on your Windows 10 PC. Storage Sense automatically frees up space by making local files that you haven’t used recently online-only again. Online-only files stay safe in OneDrive and are accessible from your PC, browser or mobile app as long as you have an internet connection.
  • Use version history to restore any OneDrive file to a previous point in time, up to 30 days after being modified. If one of your collaborators made changes that just won’t work, simply revert them.


No matter how you use OneDrive—to back up your camera roll, scan and sign documents, or to share files—these tips will help you get the most out of OneDrive. If you need 1 TB of storage, ransomware protection and other robust features for home, school or work—check out the premium features available with a Microsoft 365 subscription.


1 Assumes photos are 2MB each and docs are .08MB each.
2 This feature is not available on OneDrive for school or work.

Trusted Contributor

Also this blog shows your post was created on 8:00 AM. But here it was already 11:00 AM! I live on the East Coast (USA)

Senior Member

Thanks for this, but when you refer to Backup in relation to OneDrive, surely you mean Synchronise


Backup - a copy of a file or other item of data made in case the original is lost or damaged.

Synchronise - cause (a set of data or files) to remain identical in more than one location.




Derek White Yes and no.


Camera Roll Backup is a true back-up.

With Camera Roll Backup if you were to delete images from your phone's local memory those images will not be deleted from your OneDrive.


PC Folder Backup is a sync between PC folders and OneDrive. 

With PC Folder Backup all local file modifications are uploaded to the cloud and, likewise, all modifications to the file in the cloud are download back to all your devices. With this two way sync your devices and cloud storage contain the exact same set of files. 

Senior Member

Thank you for all of the great tips. I have been trying to find someone who can answer a OneDrive question that I have had for a while now. I think you can help me if you don't mind.


My question, "Is it possible to backup my entire Lenovo IdeaPad 5 series laptop to OneDrive and if so, how?"


I want to backup settings, program files, drivers, programs, everything. I have had to reinstall Windows 10 twice and Reset my pc twice. Having everything right there in OneDrive would make these times less timely and frustrating. 


Is this even possible?


Thanks a lot!

Honored Contributor

Thanks for the great tips!

Established Member

My requirement is simple - I need all Camera Roll files will automatically move to OneDrive end of each week to save camera space except only few pre-marked files stay. How to do that? Thanks  

Honored Contributor




You can automatically sync your files in Documents, Pictures and Desktop folders on Windows 10 to OneDrive.



for the rest of your files that reside outside of those 3 folders, you can copy them and paste them in OneDrive folder on your computer.

you can track the upload status from taskbar and once it's all done, you can begin formatting your hard disk.


OneDrive is only capable of syncing 3 folders on Windows, and backing up (manually) everything else you put in OneDrive.

Occasional Contributor

@Mirshel  its been some time, but i thought it worth posting still in case others are wondering what options are there., as not sure if OneDrive is capable of backing up your computer in case of computer failure, even now. 

Just about any disaster recovery option takes some time to setup, so this is something to factor in so that it can "save your (pc's) bacon" later on.

You can create System Restore points and can look into how to set the Recovery options on the pc, This can work well if windows gets itself in a pickle. Not sure how it works if the problem is a HDD failure but do also have a look into the "Recovery Drive" windows app:

Create a recovery drive (

I will admit i have not tried this latest offering as past experience taught me not to rely on these built-in tools and i opted for disaster recovery software.

If you can spend a few more bob, opt for a dedicated disaster recovery tool.

Acronis isn't really that expensive but depending on your internet connection upload speed (and i'd recommend wired not wireless)  you do spend a few hours (likely a weekend) uploading "an image" of your computer,  and you have to create a recovery USB to download the image from the cloud as preparation but once its done, you don't have to worry about it.  It then periodically backs up incrementally.

The last time i had to use it was to upgrade from HDD to SSD and it did the job just fine.

Businesses do opt for more robust tools, some use MEMC, but reading your post made me think you were talking about your private pc.

Again, i know i'm a bit late to the post, but just in case others get here looking for the same kind of help, just know all these work retrospectively; if you haven't laid in the groundwork earlier and you need need to recover your pc from a major crash your options are limited; you may be able to take the drive out and plug into another computer and try recover software but that may just get some of the files back not the entire system.. HOWEVER, it is very much worth checking out that option before fully giving up.

Occasional Contributor

Thank you for the Tips. I needed this information to know more about One Drive!:smile:

Occasional Visitor



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