Last updated 3/9/2016
OneDrive for Business is Microsoft’s cloud storage offering in Office 365. The University has access to OneDrive through our existing Microsoft contract and it is intended to allow local synchronization of remote files and should function similarly to Dropbox, but there are few shortcomings and problems with it currently.
- You can access all OneDrive files online through the web interface on any computer, Mac or Windows, and whether they are your personal files or files shared with you.
- You can locally sync your personal OneDrive files to Windows or Macs.
- You can locally sync folders shared with you on a Windows computer.
- You _can’t_ locally sync folders shared with you on a Mac computer currently.
- On non-UConn Windows computers you may require a different version of Office than the one currently installed in order to use OneDrive for Business. UConn students can download a version that works through https://uconn.onthehub.com . Faculty can also download a version of Office that will work on their personal computers, either through http://office365.uconn.edu/ or https://uconn.onthehub.com .
An alternative to OneDrive is to use the RNAS / Research shared drive. We can setup a folder on our shared research network drive and allow access only to the users you specify, but there is no local syncing so it requires an Internet access to connect to the folder and when off campus it requires connecting with a VPN. As there is no offline file synchronization this also doesn’t work as a full replacement of Dropbox.
OneDrive for Business allows you to store files in Microsoft’s Cloud storage, access them online from any computer, share those files with UConn faculty, staff, and students, along with non-UConn users, and it allows you to synchronize those files locally to your computer and push changes back to the cloud as changes are made. If all of that worked perfectly it would work as a drop in replacement for Dropbox and would fill all the needs that faculty have been using it for, however the local syncing in OneDrive doesn’t work perfectly and the installation of it can be more complicated than Dropbox.
Accessing files online works like Dropbox and the tools to edit Office documents online work well. You can access your OneDrive for Business files, and any files or folders shared with you in OneDrive by going to http://office365.uconn.edu/ , click Login to Office 365 Portal on the right, then click the OneDrive icon or click the 3×3 square icon in the upper left and then click OneDrive. Once you are in your OneDrive folder you should see a menu on the left with your name and Files, that has your files and folders which you can share with other UConn and non-UConn users, then under Files you should see Shared with me, if you click that you’ll see any folders or files other users have shared from their OneDrive.
Accessing the files online is functional, but the faculty I have talked to see the need to synchronize files locally for offline access and to fully replace the niche that Dropbox currently fills. The OneDrive for Business client has different capabilities on Mac versus Windows and on Windows it may require specific versions of Office to be installed, which is not a problem for UConn laptops, but can be an issue for student computers and non-UConn computers.
- On a UConn computer running Windows you can Sync your personal folder by going to OneDrive on the Office 365 site as above (go to http://office365.uconn.edu/ , click Login to Office 365 Portal on the right, then click the OneDrive icon) , then click Files on the left to view your files, then click Sync in the menu near the top of the window, then click Sync Now and open the link in OneDrive for Business. You can also sync folders that have been shared with you by clicking Shared with me, then click the shared folder to open it, then click Sync in the menu near the top of the window, then click Sync Now and open the link in OneDrive for Business. Though you have to sync each shared folder individually it functions like Dropbox and everything works.
- On a UConn or Non-UConn computer running Mac OS X you can Sync your personal folder, but you can’t sync any folders that other users have shared with you. As Microsoft has not yet released a final version of OneDrive for Business syncing your personal files also requires running terminal commands to change settings to allow OneDrive for Business connections. To sync your personal OneDrive folder you will need to install Microsoft’s OneDrive client from Apples AppStore . Once it’s installed you can follow the additional instructions at Microsoft’s Office Support site to enable OneDrive for Business.
- On a Non-UConn computer running Windows things get more complicated. The above instructions for the UConn computer running Windows will work if the user has Microsoft Office Professional or Enterprise versions 2013 or 2016, for other versions we haven’t yet found a way to install the OneDrive for Business client as it conflicts with the installed version of Office. The user can try to install the OneDrive for Business client by going to the OneDrive site as above (go to http://office365.uconn.edu/ , click Login to Office 365 Portal on the right, then click the OneDrive icon), then clicking on Files and then clicking on Sync in the menu at the top of the screen, and then clicking on Get the version of OneDrive for Business that is right for me . That will bring you to a page to download the OneDrive for Business client, but the installer may fail saying that it conflicts with the installed version of Office. UConn students should be able to install a compatible version of Office for free by logging in to http://office365.uconn.edu , but doing that would likely require uninstalling their current version of Office, which may cause problems for them.
An alternative to OneDrive is the RNAS / Research shared network drive, though it also is not a complete replacement for Dropbox as it doesn’t support offline file syncing at all. The RNAS/Research share allows us to setup a folder on our shared research network drive which can then be mapped on Mac or Windows computers and accessed as if it was a local folder. Accessing files is similar to accessing your synchronized Dropbox folders with the exception that you need an Internet connection to access the files and if you are off campus you would need to connect with the Junos Pulse VPN client before accessing the files. Non-UConn users can be granted access to file shares by filling out an Affiliate Request form to get a Net ID for the user.