How OneDrive Saved Me As A Student And Why You Should Use It!

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It Honestly Is Worth It!

As a graduate with a master’s degree, I sometimes like to share tips and advice from my time as a student and this article isn’t any different. The use of OneDrive or any form of cloud storage for storing your coursework or any other files can honestly be a godsend! 

The sad reality is that storage devices do fail, files can become corrupt and your laptop can break, that’s why it’s critical that you back up your work and files on a regular basis. 

So What Happened?

I was in my second year at University, working towards an important assignment on my PC when all of a sudden my gaming rig literally went bang! It made a very strange noise, went off and even blew the fuse inside of my house.

After I reset the fuse I tried to power on my computer, but nothing at this point I already knew that my PC was dead, I connected a spare power supply unit (PSU) but still nothing. To cut a long story short, it turned out that the PSU blew taking the motherboard, graphics card, SSD and the external hard drive with it.

As you might have guessed, I used the portable hard drive for backing up my university work, and now that was also totalled! I tried changing the cable I had for the portable hard drive and connecting it to my laptop but still nothing.

At this point, I logged into my laptop feeling extremely down because not only have I lost my gaming PC but to make things even worse, I lost the 3000-word report and presentation I was working on. In fact, at the time I was making the final changes to the assignment before submitting it the day after.

I logged into my PC, opened Microsoft Word and to my surprise, my report and presentation were automatically backed up to OneDrive! I was certain, I was working on an offline copy but it was one that was automatically saved to my university OneDrive account. It turned out and I didn’t even know back then that I set OneDrive to backup my documents automatically. 

Lessons Learned

As you can imagine I learned two very important lessons that day!
  1. Don’t fully trust your computer!
  2. Always have a backup routine!

At the time, I had a very basic backup routine, I stored all of my assignment work on my computer, the primary device I used for my assignments. I then backed up everything onto a portable hard drive on a daily basis. If I needed to take anything to university to use in the lab environment I would copy it onto my flash drive or take my portable hard drive in. I also backed my portable hard drive up on a weekly basis to another portable hard drive.

Unfortunately, on the weekend before my computer failed, I forgot to back up my external hard drive as I was away with my friends which meant that I would have been behind and the report I was working on had the cover page and an introduction. This was something I would often not do either because I forgot or because I didn’t see the need.

Have a Backup Routine That Works!

I can’t stress this enough; a good and regular backup routine can be the difference between you passing an assignment with a decent result and failing it. It can also be the difference between important files such as memories and photos being there and lost forever!

That’s why I now follow a principle my manager taught me in my first IT job, following this principle has helped me keep files safe, it has also taught me to be more serious about backing up on separate devices. The principle is:

You can’t call it a backup until you have at least 3 copies!

My Current Backup routine 

My current backup routine is the same as it was after the incident. When it came to university work, my primary storage location was the OneDrive account my university provided me with. However, this time, I decided to build a NAS server out of an old computer I had lying around.

For those of you who are interested, NAS stands for Network Attached Storage and if you have an old computer lying around you can convert it into a server, practically for free!

I used a freely available Linux-based operating system called Open Media Vault. At the time I had two identical 2TB Hard Drives which I set to mirror each other in a configuration known as Raid 1. So if one hard drive fails, at least I’ve got a backup copy on the other. I then, back everything up on an external hard drive.

Now that I’ve finished University, any big project or video I am working on goes onto my NAS Server to be backed up. I then back everything up onto an external hard drive. I’ve also set up a system whereby anything I store in my current primary storage location, which happens to be OneDrive, will automatically back up onto my server weekly.

The Issue I Have With Using Cloud Storage

Cloud storage can really be a wonderful thing, but there are a few things to consider before using it. For starters, it can quickly get expensive. Most, if not all cloud storage providers only provide you with a basic amount of storage space in their free plan. OneDrive and iCloud only provide you with 5GB of free storage. Which in this day and age is rather low. Google Drive gives you a generous 15 GB and DropBox only gives you 2GB! Whilst you are able to upgrade the storage space, it can quickly become expensive.

On the other hand, if you don’t have access to the internet and your files are only stored online, you’ve lost access to those files until you have access to the internet again.

There are times when some of your files may not sync properly causing you either to lose access to that file or even worse, it can corrupt it. However, a suitable backup routine should help you in that department. 

As the files are stored in the cloud, I always that worry about what happens if Microsoft decides to kill OneDrive, or if something happens to the servers that store my data.

So Why Should You Use OneDrive?

There are many cloud storage providers out there, and in reality, my recommendation would depend on what you use it for. I mean as a student, I loved the autosave feature available in Office apps such as Word because it constantly saves my work to the cloud so if my computer goes down, at least I have a copy of my work stored safely in the cloud.

As with many cloud storage providers, storing your items in the cloud gives you easy access to your files, so if you wanted to, you could access them on your phone or even your friend’s laptop just by logging into your account or you can just use the sharing function which will give you a link which your friend can use to download the file.

I also found it easy to access my files on the universities lab and library computers, because I used the subscription I was provided with by the University, everything was available for me to use and download after signing in to the device. This is also true for personal accounts as you can just sign in using the browser.

Theoretically, storing your files on OneDrive is still safer than just storing them on your PC as OneDrive is less likely to fail and their backup solution has got to be a lot better than the one you would have in your house.


To conclude this article, OneDrive is a service I still use and pay for today. Not only does it work really well with Windows, but it also works great with my iPad and Pixel 6 Pro. I use it as a primary storage location for a lot of my files. 

Storing your files in the cloud is still much safer than storing them in your laptop or even worse a memory stick! 

My biggest advice from this experience is to back up your files in multiple locations on separate devices, I can’t stress this enough!