OneDrive application for Windows and MacOS: ITS Recommendations


In this FAQ article, you will learn about:

OneDrive application vs Shared drives

The OneDrive application for Windows and MacOS allows you to manage and modify files and folders stored in your OneDrive account using the Windows Explorer/MacOS Finder. The OneDrive application comes preinstalled with most ITS-configured workstations. In some cases, you may have the now-retired "OneDrive for Business" application installed. If installed, you should see an entry for it on the navigation panel of your Explorer and Finder windows:

The OneDrive application for Windows and MacOS provides a similar experience to the old shared drives, but there is one significant difference you should keep in mind:

With the old shared drives, you were modifying the files directly; with the OneDrive application, you are modifying a copy of the file stored on your computer, which is periodically synced with the version stored in OneDrive by the OneDrive application.

This subtle difference is important to consider for several reasons:

  1. If you work on files containing sensitive information, retaining local copies could represent security risks, especially if you have the OneDrive application installed on multiple devices
  2. If you work with many files, or with large files stored in OneDrive, the local copies will take up space on your computer's hard drive. This may cause performance problems if your computer does not have enough space to accommodate
  3. Because you are modifying a copy of the original file stored in OneDrive, you are relying on the OneDrive application to sync the changes made between your local copy and the version of the file stored in OneDrive. The sync client can fail and may require periodic troubleshooting.


OneDrive Application Recommendations

Should I use the OneDrive application for Windows/MacOS?

ITS does not recommend using the OneDrive application for Windows or MacOS unless necessary. 

Why does ITS recommend against using the OneDrive application?

It can provide a level of convenience at the expense of introducing a number of new problems:

I need to use the OneDrive application. What can I do to protect myself and the data I work with?

There are a few things you can do to help ensure a smooth experience with the OneDrive application:

What situations require the OneDrive application?

Most non-Microsoft Office files cannot be directly modified while stored in OneDrive. The OneDrive sync app downloads local copies of these files so that the copy can be modified and then synced back up into OneDrive. Some examples include:

A vendor may also operate their own Cloud file storage specifically for their software, such as Adobe Creative Cloud. We highly recommend utilizing the vendor's own Cloud storage offering if available, instead of OneDrive.

What should not be stored in OneDrive?

Typically, you can store anything in OneDrive if you are able to upload it. However, there are some file types that require a special migration process if you need to access or modify the file. Some examples include:

If you still have questions or need additional assistance re: migrations to OneDrive, please submit a ticket for migration assistance using the form here.