Microsoft OneDrive Review

Collaboration and sharing that is experiencing growing pains as it comes into its own

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case is having it as our primary sharing and collaboration tool.  

Our company is in the entertainment industry. We have lots of different departments like finance, legal, animation, sound, editing — all of that. The actual use case really depends on the department and sometimes the user. For example, I am in our tech department. If I want to share some sort of document with my team, I just put it on OneDrive. Then, if I already shared a folder, I just drop it in that folder and everyone with access to that folder gets access to that file.  

That is pretty much how everyone is doing their work and sharing their stuff. They create shared folders and they give permissions to different people as to what they can access and then they put stuff in those folders. That covers our basic use cases.  

How has it helped my organization?

OneDrive has improved our organization by making things faster. People do not have to use email anymore for file transfers because communications and collaborations are handled via OneDrive. Instead of sending attachments to different people, you share with different people using folders that the groups you work with have access to. You just drop in whatever you want there and people can easily access it. It all gets nicely stored in one place.  

What is most valuable?

I would say the most valuable feature is that it is a Microsoft product so it is well integrated with Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and all the other products in the Microsoft suite. In OneDrive, when you use Excel, Word, or PowerPoint it automatically manages the versioning. It is kind of how Google Sheets and Google Drive and all of those products work. Multiple people can work on a Word document at the same time because it is completely integrated and it is an online copy of that document that you do not have to physically move back-and-forth.  

Autosave is always on for everything. That is a very good feature, I feel. Another thing is OneDrive has a version history as well. If you have multiple changes to a document and Microsoft sees it as different versions then you can actually recover different versions in case something gets replaced unexpectedly. For example, if you did something in version five and then you realize that version four was better, you can actually recover that earlier versions in OneDrive.  

The integration between all Microsoft products is a key advantage to OneDrive. I would say that is probably the most valuable feature. Because it is Microsoft and everyone uses Word and Excel almost globally, it works well in sharing those documents. But regardless of if you are a Google user or Apple user, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are still 90% of what the world uses for business tasks. Because everything is integrated with Microsoft, instead of going through Google Sheet and then exporting it to an Excel file, here you just work directly in Excel. It is fewer conversions and fewer problems in that way.  

What needs improvement?

Syncing is one area that can be improved. When you click on sync on the online version, what happens is that it creates a drive on your desktop. Basically, it is like you have the online version directly on your desktop. Syncing has been an issue sometimes when there are huge folders. It might not be a huge folder in terms of space, but when there are a large number of files. When there are a lot of files, that is when the issue arises.  

For example, say you have a folder that has 200 files. When you sync it to a computer, it takes some time to load. When people start updating stuff in that same folder, it can slow down your computer because it updates you locally as well every time there is a change. That constant syncing can cause performance issues. It works fine if it is a smaller number of folders and files, but whenever there is a large number of files, that has been an issue for sure. They need to really improve on that. That is the biggest weakness of the solution, I would say. Syncing is number one.  

Another thing is when you delete stuff. You do not get a notification if you delete something online. So for example, if you are the owner of a folder and I have access to that folder and there is a file there and I delete it, it actually goes to your recycle bin. In other words, it goes to the owner's recycle bin. That is fine, but then the owner never gets a notification. So, if you have 10 files and then you notice that one is missing, you do not even know who deleted it or when it got deleted. It is residing in your recycle bin, and you can see that it is there. But you do not even know that you have to look at your recycle bin because you never got a notification. That is really a potentially huge issue with the solution. If you are a team leader and you do not know if someone is deleting your stuff, you might eventually lose something by accident.  

Another thing is permissions. There is no way to set non-delete permissions. You can be a viewer or an editor. If you are an editor, you can delete files. If you are a viewer, you can not delete files. But there is no option to remove the delete privileges from an editor. I think other companies, like Box and Dropbox, have that feature and they allow you to make it so you can edit but you do not have the ability to delete. You want people to be able to edit without deleting probably most of the time.  

I think that these are some pretty basic and fundamental things that Microsoft just does not have. But they could do even more with permissions. Just having viewing and editing permission is pretty basic, but even in Box, a person can view and edit, but not download. Or a person can view, edit, and download. The point is that there is more to do than just view and edit. There are many different options and combinations in Box that OneDrive just does not have. It is not so interesting to just have more new features. What is more important is having features that are really necessary and already exist in other competing products. That is something that I think Microsoft should strive for with OneDrive. Microsoft is probably one of the biggest companies in the world. If something like Box or Dropbox has better features than you, then you really need to look at your products and make some revisions.  

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using OneDrive for about six or seven months I would say.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I do not think that OneDrive is very stable. There are a lot of bugs. For example, we were doing a file migration from Box which is what we used to use. We moved to OneDrive because we have the Microsoft license for free with Office 365. But when we did the file migrations something happened. A lot of users had files that they were sharing. There is an option where you can see who shared files with you and there is a shared tab on the online version of OneDrive. For some people, when they clicked on the shared tab, it was blank. We had to call Microsoft to fix it for them. It was a case by case scenario for some reason and it was not a global fix. It is annoying and even now we are still having issues with that as we continue to roll out the OneDrive initiative.  

There are plenty of other bugs. For example, sometimes the search does not work properly. They have a search option on the online version, but it is not a good search in general. It does not really search inside folders. When you search for something, it just searches; it does not give you the location of where the file is. You do not know which folder it was in. If you do not know the exact name of a file, it will try to search it for you because it looks up the characters. You will get the file, but that is it. It could be better.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The use of this product will probably grow along with our company. We are a pretty big company already. We have been introducing the use of OneDrive to different locations. We are going at it location by location. Now that everyone is using it, I guess I would say the scalability is good.  

When I say everyone in our company, I mean somewhere between 1400 to 1500 people are using the product. The roles could be everything from the receptionist to a tech person, to a legal finance person, to a VP, to the CEO. It is literally everybody in the company.  

How are customer service and technical support?

I would rate technical support as a three-out-of-ten. They are not very good. Whenever we talk to tech support, they never have the solution that they should at the tips of their fingers. This is such a big product for them, simple stuff should be something they can answer quickly. Like if you ask them why the sync is not working, they should have those solutions. We end up solving problems more quickly by ourselves.  

If we can solve it for ourselves, why do we have call tech support? They are not responsive. It is very hard to get in touch with them. Maybe that is because we did not opt for the enterprise-level tech support — we just have the basic tech support. We are considering getting enterprise support. Things might improve if we get a dedicated customer service person or a dedicated account manager. I do hope so.  

My unfiltered review is that tech support currently only deserves that three-out-of-ten, and that is it.  

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We did previously use Box in our company. The reason we switched from Box was not that there was any problem with the functionality. It was just a money-driven decision. If everyone has a Microsoft license and they have OneDrive included, then why are we paying extra for a different solution? Box is enough of an expenditure that it is worth removing from the budget. We were paying for every single user license to add on functionality that we already had access to. We could work with what we already had for free. Why should we pay that additional money? It makes no sense to have two storage solutions when we could use the one that Microsoft offers. Box may have had a few more features and was more stable, but it did not really justify the additional cost.  

From my personal view, the choice was made from a functionality point-of-view, but it is more like a budget point-of-view for us as a company.  

How was the initial setup?

The integration is good, but the setup is not that easy. I had to train a lot of people on how to use OneDrive. It is not like Google Drive which is pretty straightforward. There are a lot of different features in OneDrive which are both good and bad. But one of the problems is that there are actually too many things in some ways. People do not always seem to know how to use it intuitively. Even though we have been using it for six or seven months in our company, there are still people who come to me with questions about how they can do things that are relatively simple. I would say it is 50/50. If you are tech-savvy, I guess it is a little easier. But for new users who have never used something like OneDrive and who are used to the ease-of-use of something like Google Drive, it is just different and there is a learning curve. I would give it a five-out-of-ten for the setup.  

What other advice do I have?

If they fixed all the little things, it could be a great product. It pretty much is a great product already. The integrations are still good. Initially I was really amazed. But then I got to know its many bugs and glitches and I have to take a global view of the solution. I was the main point of implementation on this, so I have been involved with the OneDrive implementation from start to finish. I know everything that has been in the product, outside of the product, limitations, trends, how people are looking at OneDrive, how they are they using it — everything.  

For other people looking to OneDrive as a solution, I would suggest it if people already use other Microsoft products like Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. If I was making a recommendation for a friend of mine for personal use, the one advantage of OneDrive is they give you one terabyte of space. That is more than any of the other products of this type will give you. That is by default. If you pay for $10 a month — the normal Microsoft personal home license — you get OneDrive included and one terabyte of storage, which is a lot of space. With Google Drive, they do not give you nearly that much. I think Google Drive gives you 50 gigs of space. I do not remember exactly, but it was not that much, storage-wise.  

The other thing I would say is for professionals or big companies is that if they are using Excel, Word, PowerPoint, other Microsoft solutions a lot, then OneDrive makes perfect sense. It is integrated so well with typical office productivity tools that they should not even consider any other solution like Google Drive. This is the best-integrated solution for all of them. It makes it very easy to collaborate. Just look past the glitches until they fix all of them. Then it will clearly be the better solution.  

So, that is my advice. The negatives are there, yes. Microsoft tech support is terrible — everyone knows that. If you do have issues, then you might have to wait two or three weeks before it gets solved — and there are some nagging issues that have not been solved at all. Microsoft acknowledges a few things as just being a flaw in the product and they say they are going to have to fix it, but they do not seem to be in a rush to take care of anything.  

Before I used OneDrive, I have to admit that I was very anti-Microsoft. But right now, I do appreciate what they have been doing. In terms of collaboration, Google has always owned that area of the market. With Google Drive, Google Sheets, Google Slides and all, they own the online collaboration arena. But now Microsoft really is improving to such an extent that they could actually compete with Google and maybe they will end up surpassing them. They have an advantage in that Excel and Word and PowerPoint are just more powerful and mature than whatever Google has right now.  

If you have some patience and you can stomach through the initial growing pains of the Microsoft bugs, then I would certainly recommend this product. I would actually suggest that this should be the product that everyone should use for sharing and collaboration. It is hard to love OneDrive right now. You will probably like it more than you love it. If you call me in a year's time, I might just have to say that everything in OneDrive is great now.  

But right now, on a scale of one to ten (where one is the worst and ten is the best), I would rate it a six-point-five out of ten. It really is not even a seven yet just because of the overall experience and the missing features.  

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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