How To Best Use Your 15GB Of Free OneDrive Storage
The cloud storage scene has exploded recently, with dozens of providers offering you free storage for your files in the cloud. Why pay for more space when we’ve shown you how to max out your free storage with these services?
One contender, Microsoft OneDrive (which was recently re-branded from the old SkyDrive name) offered an attractive 7 GB to all users, much more than the popular Dropbox‘s 2 GB. Recently, Microsoft sweetened the deal and increased OneDrive’s minimum space to a whopping 15 GB for all users. That’s a lot of space!
If you’re wondering what to do with all of it, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to look at some creative solutions, as well as some traditional methods to fill up all that space.
Set Up OneDrive
The first step to taking advantage of your free space is to make sure you’re actually using OneDrive. If you’re on Windows 8, OneDrive is already integrated into your system and you can manage your files easily with the OneDrive app . With the updated 8.1, OneDrive has even more of a presence . The only other requirement is to make sure that you have a Microsoft account; you probably signed up for one when you got your Windows 8 PC since Microsoft is pushing users to stop using local accounts .
If you’re on Windows 7, OneDrive isn’t a part of the operating system, so you’ll need to download the OneDrive desktop app and sign in to take advantage of it.
Once you’re all set up, you can open your OneDrive folder in Windows Explorer. It will be bare at first, but feel free to create new folders in there and start placing all types of files in it. If you use Microsoft Office (hopefully you’re using our guide ) then you’ll be prompted to save all of your documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in OneDrive, which is a good starting point.
What Can I Do With OneDrive?
Now that you have all this space to store files in the cloud, what exactly should you do with it? Before anything else, for Windows 8.1 users it’s a good idea to back up your PC’s personalization settings so you don’t have to apply a fresh coat of paint to any new computers.
Back Up PC Settings
To do this, open up the PC Settings app by searching for it through the Charms Bar. Under the OneDrive tab, expand Sync Settings and make sure that all the switches are enabled, linking them to your Microsoft account. Once you’ve gotten that out of the way, try out some OneDrive customization .
Enable Remote Access
One other awesome OneDrive feature you’ll want to set up is Remote Access. Head into your OneDrive settings by going to the notification area at the far right of your Taskbar; right-click on the cloud icon for OneDrive and choose Settings. As long as the Let me use OneDrive to fetch any of my files on this PC option selected, you’ll be able to sign into OneDrive on the web, browse your files, and download a local copy of anything on your computer, even if it isn’t in OneDrive!
For this to work, the target PC needs to be turned on and connected to the Internet with OneDrive running. It’s a great option for accessing your home computer’s files while at work or on-the-go, but for a computer you don’t leave on all the time, like a laptop, it might not be ideal. Also, for some reason you can’t fetch files that are on a PC running Windows 8.1, so keep that in mind.
Cloud storage can be used in so many cool ways that you could write a textbook on the subject. Here I won’t be redundant, but rather point you to some creative ways to fill up that space.
Saikat has laid out some creative uses for cloud storage , including sending Microsoft Word autosaves to the cloud and saving maps offline. He even wrote a sequel with yet more unique functions , including automatically saving your Gmail attachments to the cloud, or one of my personal favorites, keeping a huge wallpaper collection across devices.
The above uses are more interesting and some take advantage of different web services, but the traditional usage for cloud storage — backing up your files — is still a great way to use the service.
Back Up Documents
For instance, documents and text files will barely take up any space, so feel free to load them up. Simply place any files you want to back up in the OneDrive folder on your PC to sync them to the cloud. If you don’t want to relocate all your files, use a tool like FreeFileSync (our review ), which will let you easily sync between different places.
What you place in here, however, varies and can be tailored to what kinds of files you use the most. If you have a ton of music, create a folder in OneDrive and place a few gigabytes of your favorite tunes for a personal jukebox anywhere. Or, ditch your flash drive by using portable applications (check out some of the best ) that can be used on any computer you find yourself working with.
Stock & Sync Game ROMs
In his list of essential cloud storage uses , Craig also mentioned keeping a stock of game ROMs to enable saving across devices. If you’re set up to play retro games on your PC , the cloud is a great place to keep all your emulation goodies in one place.
If you don’t emulate, but still play games on your PC, saving your game progress to the cloud is still simple, and can be a life-saver should your computer crash in the middle of a huge game.
Filling Your Space
It’s funny; most of the time you’re looking to free up space on your hard drive , but in this instance you want to take up space. There’s no straight answer to this quandary, however. What you put into your personal cloud really depends on what kind of computer user you are.
Share Files Publicly
Perhaps, for example, you’re always writing, creating images, or making sound clips, and you like to share those works with others. Turn OneDrive into your own spot for making your art public. You can share entire folders; choose to make them Public for the whole world to see, or share a link with those close to you or on Facebook.
Back Up ISO, Installer Or Video Files
If you’ve been using Windows for a long time and have lots of old CDs that came with software, convert them into ISO files and store them in OneDrive to keep them safe. Have you ditched cable and get your TV shows through torrents? Stow them in OneDrive and set up a media streaming center with your game console .
If you install a lot of software, keep the installers in OneDrive so if they ever cease to exist you’ll have a copy. Download your favorite funny YouTube videos and if YouTube’s weird decisions take them down, you can re-upload them and be the video community’s hero.
Think of what files you use the most, and those are the ones you’ll want to throw into OneDrive. I can’t answer the question for you, but you certainly have lots of files on your main computer. At the absolute least, putting them into OneDrive ensures you have some layer of backup, though you should consider a more reliable backup & restore method as well.
To The Cloud
We’ve given OneDrive a broad survey; are you feeling inspired yet? Hopefully you see how cloud storage can be useful and why you should take the time to set it up. Feeling especially advanced? Ryan has shown you how to send commands to your computer via SMS , and OneDrive can help.
Read all of this and still not convinced? If you hate OneDrive and wish it would go away, you can disable it with just a few clicks .
How are you using your free OneDrive space? Did I miss any creative methods for using it? Feel free to leave a comment!