OneDrive for Business Introduction and FAQ


The University of Cambridge's Microsoft 365 agreement (formerly known as Office 365) provides staff and students with a personal 1 TB "OneDrive for Business" online storage.  These guides explain how you can access it, and how to get the most out of it.

What does OneDrive for Business do?

OneDrive for Business provides online storage, that can be used for 'extra' storage, or for synchronising files between computers.

If you have used a product like Dropbox or Google Drive, then OneDrive is very similar in function and use.

A video explaining the basics of OneDrive for Business can be seen HERE.

What's the Difference between OneDrive and OneDrive for Business?

OneDrive for Business is part of the Microsoft 365 package.  OneDrive for Business provides 1 TB of storage, and is authenticated using your work credentials.

OneDrive is the consumer version that provides 5GB for free, and is authenticated using a Microsoft account.

You can use both services if you want to.

Which Work Account do I use to access OneDrive?

OneDrive for Business is accessed using your Microsoft (Office) 365 account.  For CSCS supported users, this is now your University of Cambridge e-mail address / alias as the login name (for example,, and RAVEN password.

How Does OneDrive for Business work?

OneDrive for Business can be used in two different ways:

  • Save files directly to and open files directly from OneDrive for Business. In this case the files are not saved on your local device, so you are using OneDrive as "extra" storage.  This is particularity useful for mobile devices with limited storage, or shared computers. As the files are stored in a remote location, you will need an internet connection, and saving and opening files can be slow. This method can be used with a web browser or with Office.  See Saving Directly to OneDrive for Business

  • Sync files between multiple computers using the OneDrive client. In this case the files are saved to your local drive, then automatically synced with OneDrive for Business. Since the files are stored locally in your OneDrive folder, you will need sufficient space on your device, but saving and opening files will be much quicker as they are on your devices. This is very similar to services such as Dropbox or Google Drive.

You can use a combination of the above, e.g. sync files between work and home computers, while accessing OneDrive for Business directly from a tablet.

Should I move all of my data into OneDrive?

Your storage provided by CSCS - your Home drive and Group drives - offer more reliable backup than OneDrive for Business when you are on-site, whilst OneDrive provides more reliable backup when off-site. We recommend using OneDrive only for files that you create or frequently use off-site.

Can I use OneDrive for Business at home?

Absolutely. The purpose of OneDrive is to give you easier access to your data. However, if you sync or download work / University data to your home pc, it is your responsibility to ensure it is safe and secure. This means you should always run a recent operating system, keep up to date with patches and updates, and use anti-virus.

Will files Sync or Download to my Mobile Device?

The OneDrive Client for mobile devices such as phones or tablets will not sync files automatically, as typically there will not be sufficient storage. As long as you have an internet connection, you can browse your files. Selecting a file will cause it to download automatically.

Can I get more than 1 TB of Storage?

No, unfortunately 1 TB is the maximum offered by Microsoft.

How secure is OneDrive for Business?

The University of Cambridge categorises data into the following:

  • Level 0: Unclassified or public information
  • Level 1: Cambridge Only
  • Level 2: Confidential information
  • Level 3: Personal and strictly confidential information

Microsoft's Data Centres are located within the EU, and are ISO 27001 accredited. OneDrive is rated as suitable for levels 0, 1 and 2, but NOT level 3. This means that data such as Patient Identifiable Data, or data held under contract from research bodies, must not be stored in OneDrive.

For more detailed information on data classification see:

In practical terms, if you are syncing data between your computers and OneDrive, it is your computers that are the least secure link in the chain.

If you are storing Level 2 confidential Information, please contact our Service Desk to discuss whether we should consider encrypting your device (this typically involves a full reinstallation of the operating system).

How available is OneDrive?

Microsoft publishes its uptime information here:

99.98% average uptime translates into the following amount of time the service was not available:

  • Daily: 2m 52.8s
  • Weekly: 20m 9.6s
  • Monthly: 1h 27m 39.5s
  • Yearly: 17h 31m 53.9s

If your data is synchronising between multiple devices, then downtime would stop your data syncing; any data that had already synced would still be available.  However, if you were saving directly to OneDrive, then you would not be able to access your files at all. Unfortunately Microsoft do not state what times of day their downtime is likely to occur.

How reliable is OneDrive?

If you are relying on the sync client, then another consideration is the reliability of the client itself. If the client itself isn't running, then your files will not be synced (and therefore not backed up). Unfortunately the client can stop working, so you should check on it occasionally, or before going off-site. 

How does OneDrive compare to Dropbox or Google Drive?

Although the premise of all these services is similar, there might be features or details that will make one more appropriate for you. As they are changing regularly, the best first step is to look at recent comparisons. If you would like to discuss your needs in detail, then give our Service Desk a call.

Where can I get more Information?

Microsoft have a video on OneDrive for Business in Office 365 here:

You can also see the rest of our guides: