How To Best Use Your 15GB Of Free OneDrive Storage

Ben Stegner 07-10-2014

The cloud storage scene Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive: Which Cloud Storage Is Best for You? Have you changed the way you think about cloud storage? The popular options of Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive have been joined by others. We help you answer which cloud storage service should you use. Read More 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 How To Get The Most Free Space On Dropbox, Box, SkyDrive & More - The Complete Guide Cloud storage services offer a minimum amount of free space to everyone who signs up, but you can often get more. You can upgrade your cloud drive with gigabytes and gigabytes of free space in... Read More with these services?


One contender, Microsoft OneDrive (which was recently re-branded OneDrive Launches With More Storage & Automatic Android Photo Backup To celebrate the OneDrive launch, Microsoft have decided to give everyone 20GB free storage for a year, if you follow a special link. And those with Android phones can look forward to automatic photo backups. Read More 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 SkyDrive For Windows 8: The Cloud Storage And Modern File Explorer App Got Windows 8? Then you have SkyDrive and in combination with a Microsoft account, you get 7GB of free storage. SkyDrive is a cloud storage solution and also doubles as a modern file explorer. Read More . With the updated 8.1, OneDrive has even more of a presence How To Keep Your Files Synced With SkyDrive In Windows 8.1 Storing data remotely and syncing them across devices has never been so easy, especially if you're using Windows 8.1. SkyDrive received a significant update, improving its integration with Windows and adding interesting new features. Read More . 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 How Microsoft Overhauled User Accounts In Windows 8 What's up with user accounts in Windows 8? It's not complicated - Microsoft wants everyone to use an online account to sign into their desktop operating system. Sure, they offer an offline equivalent, but they... Read More .

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 Microsoft Office 2013: The Unofficial Guide If you're considering an upgrade to Office 2013, or you've just paid for the package and want to make the best of it, this Microsoft Office 2013 Guide is for you. Read More ) 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 Make Windows 8 Sexier With These Background & Theme Tweaks Does your Windows 8 system look too bland with the default settings? You can customize it in a variety of ways, changing a variety of backgrounds and colors -- whether on the Start screen, lock... Read More 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 5 Smart Ways to Customize & Improve OneDrive in Windows 8.1 OneDrive can be a blessing or a curse. It's deeply integrated into Windows 8.1. You'll either want to get the most of it or disable it completely. We can help with both. Read More .



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.

Unique Uses

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 Top 10 Creative Uses For Dropbox Or Other Cloud Storage The agility, flexibility, and low-cost scale ups turn cloud storage options into more than an online vault to back up your documents and files. But cloud storage is more than these important but mundane uses.... Read More , including sending Microsoft Word autosaves to the cloud and saving maps offline. He even wrote a sequel with yet more unique functions 10 Ways to Use Your Cloud Storage That You May Not Have Thought Of When we talk about cloud storage, it usually revolves around backup and collaboration. So, let’s try to find some more interesting ways to fill up all the space they give us for free. Read More , including automatically saving your Gmail attachments to the cloud, or one of my personal favorites, keeping a huge wallpaper collection Need A New Wallpaper? These 5 Awesome Sites Will Get You There Your choice of desktop wallpaper says a lot about who you are. So, if your wallpaper is an expression of who you are, where can you find wallpapers that fit your personality? Read More across devices.

Traditional Uses

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 Is FreeFileSync Better Sync Software Than Microsoft SyncToy? [Windows] Sync programs make local backups a snap by copying only changed files. Dropbox and other cloud storage systems are great, but they aren't as fast as a USB flash drive or removable hard drive to... Read More ), which will let you easily sync between different places.



Store Music

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 The Office Worker’s 101 Guide to USB Thumb Drives Flash drives today are not just about storing your important files: you can use them to run programs and even entire operating systems. Read More by using portable applications How Portable Apps Can Make Your Life Easier & Save Resources If you frequently switch computers and have cloud storage space or USB drives to spare, here's an idea: outsource your applications. Read More (check out some of the best The Best Portable Apps That Require No Installation Portable apps don't need installation. You can run them from even a flash drive. Here are the best portable apps around. Read More ) that can be used on any computer you find yourself working with.

Stock & Sync Game ROMs

In his list of essential cloud storage uses 5 Things That You Should Be Using Your Cloud Storage For Cloud storage services are great in that they offer a nice chunk of free storage that anyone should be able to put to use. With the cloud's rising popularity and on-the-go computing as popular as... Read More , 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 10+ Emulators to Play Old-School 16- and 32-bit Consoles on Your PC (1987-1993) Read More , 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 5 Ways Gamers Can Save Game Progress To The Cloud What would happen if your game console or PC died? Would you have to restart all the games you're playing from scratch? Read More 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 Low Disk Space? 5 Native Windows Tools To Free Up Storage Space Don't download a fishy third party tool to reclaim valuable disk space! Windows has its own tools for the job and they're easy to use. Read More , 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 Extend The Life Of Your Optical Discs With ISO Backups & Virtual Clone Drive [Windows] There is absolutely no reason why you would still want to routinely run games, movies, or music from optical discs. Inserting, ejecting, and switching discs is a nuisance and subjects both the drive and the... Read More and store them in OneDrive to keep them safe. Have you ditched cable 4 Real Benefits of Cutting Your Cable Cord In the end, I decided to cut the cable. Abstaining from cable television has a number of advantages. Read More and get your TV shows through torrents? Stow them in OneDrive and set up a media streaming center with your game console Stream & Transcode Media To Any Device With PS3 Media Server If you've setup and tested one media server, it probably feels like you've tried them all. That's why I'm kicking myself for not trying out PS3 Media Server sooner. Read More .

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 How to Download a YouTube Video to Windows Media Player Read More and if YouTube’s weird decisions YouTube Flagging, Free OneNote, Apple Chat Support, Street View Hack [Tech News Digest] Policing YouTube, OneNote free-for-all, paid Apple chat support, WhatsApp privacy assurances, Twitch mobile gaming, Nakamoto fighting Newsweek, and Urban Jungle Street View. Read More  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 6 Safest Ways to Backup & Restore Your Files in Windows 7 & 8 By now, we're sure you've read the advice over and over: Everyone needs to back up their files. But deciding to back up your files is only part of the process. There are so many... Read More 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 How to Issue a Command to Your Computer With a Text Message You're out the door in a hurry as you realize your computer is still running. Not wasting any time, you send a quick text stating "shutdown #mycomputer", and continue on your way. Read More , 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 to Disable OneDrive with Just a Few Clicks Microsoft OneDrive is baked into Windows 10 and it can be a drag on your system resources. Fortunately, it's easy to disable or remove. Here are several methods for removing OneDrive from your computer. Read More .

How are you using your free OneDrive space? Did I miss any creative methods for using it? Feel free to leave a comment!

Related topics: Cloud Storage, Microsoft OneDrive.

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    January 8, 2016 at 3:12 pm


    • Ben Stegner
      January 12, 2016 at 7:23 pm

      You're welcome! Hope you're managing your storage well.

  2. J Di
    October 9, 2014 at 11:23 am

    My only complaint with OneDrive is it mirrors everything from the cloud. Though I'm kind of happy that OneDrive supports Symbolic Link Folders! It's like a temporary remedy.

    • Ben S
      October 12, 2014 at 4:14 am

      OneDrive allows for selective syncing of folders instead of the whole thing. Is that what you mean?

    • J Di
      October 12, 2014 at 4:55 am

      My bad... Thanks for the heads up! That was my hangover from using SkyDrive before which didn't had that option. I'm glad it's now possible! I didn't know lol

  3. David Darr
    October 8, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    I best free one Ive seen yet is called MEGA sync. It offers 50Gig free.

    • Ben S
      October 9, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      MEGA is a good option, and 50 GB is impressive. This article was meant to cover OneDrive since it's so well-integrated with Windows, but there's plenty of variety out there!

  4. Matteo
    October 8, 2014 at 8:35 am

    I don't know if it is still possible, but you use the automatic upload on Onedrive of your photos taken with your smartphone (in my case a Win Phone), I got 15 gb bonus, so in total I have 30 gigabytes, not bad!

    • Ben S
      October 9, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      Yep, this was going on right when I started writing this piece. I didn't want to include it since the promotion ended around that time, but 30 GB is even more impressive!

  5. likefunbutnot
    October 7, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    I've found it handy to nest Google Drive and/or Dropbox folders inside the OneDrive Folder structure in order to maintain user data across multiple Cloud platforms. I don't do it for myself because of sizing disparities between my available storage across the platforms, but I've set it up for other people and found it to work quite well.

    • Ben S
      October 7, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      I never even thought of that. So you can place your Dropbox inside OneDrive and have it synced twice? That's a great idea!

    • firstclass
      October 7, 2014 at 10:20 pm

      Interesting idea.

    • Kevin Dethlefs
      October 8, 2014 at 2:47 am

      That's similar to me backing up the "My Games" folder in Documents to Dropbox through symbolic links. Useful for those "I forgot to backup my game saves" moments... I also symbolically link my Minecraft saves (stored in AppData/.minecraft)

    • myyk
      October 8, 2014 at 2:07 pm

      i am doing exactly the same thing.... and it has added advantage if you use multiple computers, you have to do this only on one computer and then on the other computers you can have only OneDrive installed....