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TechSoup Battles: OneDrive Review

Working RemotelyOffice SoftwareFile SharingCollaborationCloud Tools

Are you new to TechSoup Battles? Find out what it's all about and check out our previous challenges. This review is part of our third challenge, on document collaboration.

OneDrive for document collaboration? Even for those of you that have heard of Microsoft's OneDrive, you would probably know it as a file sharing tool instead of document collaboration. However, in this blog I would like to share with you how OneDrive with (or without) Microsoft Office can be a great document collaboration tool.  

Casual collaboration vs team collaboration 

OneDrive + Office Desktop is ideal for personal use and for casual collaboration with either internal or external members. It is easy to use, affordable and requires little training. However, it does not have the enterprise level sharing options such as built in workflow for more complicated collaboration scenarios. If you work in a team based environment where a group of people require access to a single folder, Office 365's Teamsites; integration with web conferencing and enterprise level document versioning and workflow will be a more robust option.  

What do you need for OneDrive: 

To access OneDrive and 7GB of free space, all you need is a Windows Live ID. Additional space can be purchased for $10.00USD/year for 20GB up to $50.00USD/year for 100GB of space. If you would like to use Office with SkyDrive, you will need Office 2010 or Office 2011 for the Mac. In office, to save documents to OneDrive, simply select File-->Share-->Save to OneDrive. 

Mac and PC users can download a OneDrive app which acts like a shared folder on the desktop, simply drag and drop files you would like to share with others and they will be synced automatically.

Here are some of the key features about OneDrives that makes it an excellent document collaboration tool:  

Integration with Office Desktop Applications: 

Even though there are many tools that allow for collaboration on line, most of them requires learning a new interface or new process for collaboration. Most of the tools available concentrate on the collaborative aspect of document production, but can be pretty slim on the formatting and functionality aspect of document production. These two factors may frustrate some users when trying to collaborate online. OneDrive is integrated with Office Desktop, thus allows users to use the desktop application they are familiar with while allow for the collaborative aspect of document sharing in a simple way.  You can use OneDrive without Office applications through web apps. This allows users that do not have office the ability to collaborate on documents. 

See it in action! check out this short video


Cross platform, on the go collaboration 

Similar to tools like google docs, users can use OneDrive's browser based Web App to create and edit Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote document in real time regarless of the OS or if they have Microsoft Office installed on the computer. For users on mobile phones and tablets, apps like Office2 ($5.99 in apple apps store) allows for on the go real time editing and collaboration. The OneNote (free) application for mobile and tables integrated with OneDrive is an excellent way for multiple people to contribute to note taking for status updates for a meeting. Multiple pictures taken on mobile phones or tablet can be directly uploaded in OneDrive. 

File sharing and collaboration

There are several ways to share a file in OneDrive . You can share via email, social media or link.

1. Sharing via Email: 

Ideal for if you only want specific individuals to collaborate on a document, you can decide if the email recipient has view only or edit abilities. Files shared via email will appear under "Shared" when you log into OneDrive an vice versa. The recipient does not have to have a Windows Live ID or sign-in to access the file, but you do have the option to set that as a requirement for added security

2. Sharing via link: 

You have three options to share a file via link: view, view and edit, or public. This is an easy way to share a file with large groups of people and allowing for them to share with others. Simply choose the option you want, copy and paste the link into your email or website. 

3. Sharing via Social Media: 

This is excellent for sharing the information publicly, either for viewing or editing. Once you connect your LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook account to OneDrive, you can then share the document through your social media channels. Individuals can edit and save the document in Office or through web apps, they can also download a copy of the document for offline editing

What do you think? Have you used OneDrive? Do you use it for collaboration? Do you have any insights, tips, or things to watch out for that you can share? Share your thoughts on Twitter (#TechSoupBattles), Facebook, below in the comments or send us an email.