I have started testing Microsoft OneDrive Business. Reason was that I signed up for one of the Office 365 business plans because I wanted a proper Exchange server and some cheap Microsoft Office licenses (four Office licenses for half the price of one normal license). The 1 terabyte storage included in OneDrive Business sounded really interesting. So I gave it a go.
Microsoft has built two different services that share the same name but have a completely different underlying technology. OneDrive is their free service for private customers. OneDrive Business is the service included in the Office 365 business plans.
Not really a drive
OneDrive Business is based on the Microsoft SharePoint Technology. This immediately causes a few problems that are unfortunately rarely ever mentioned in the reviews I saw so far.
- SharePoint is a hybrid between file services and a web site. Therefore it does not accept any files that could somehow interfere with its web site functionality.
- No .ini files can be uploaded. I am using for example Picasa for some of my picture libraries. Picasa creates a hidden file called “picasa.ini“ in each folder. OneDrive will not synchronize these and – even worse – continue to complain that they exist. Deleting these files is not an option because they store relevant information.
- Files starting with “.” in the name, for example “.htaccess” cannot be uploaded. So I simply cannot put most web project files on OneDrive since files like this are very common to for example manage the behavior Apache webservers.
- Characters like “&” or “:” in file names do not work. So good luck if you have any of those.
- You can only synchronize up to 20’000 files per library (according to the Microsoft KB)
- Synchronization is very slow because every single file is validated against the SharePoint server.
Not really usable everywhere
Microsoft has released clients for Windows and a few mobile phone platforms. This is still far away from the idea of “One place for all your work files”.
- iPhone and iPad apps do not work for me since I am using one of the new long TLDs like “.something”. The apps thinks that these domains are not valid. It seems also not to be possible to log in with a “onmicrosoft.com” alias. The apps seems also to be quite primitive.
- I was able to use OneDrive Business in combination with the Microsoft Office apps on iOS. There the problem with the new TLD in the email address does not apply. Same with OneNote.
- There is no OneDrive Business client for Mac OS yet. I assume this is related to the “.filename” issue mentioned above. Mac OS uses files with a beginning “.” in the name basically everywhere. So it would be impossible to properly synchronize a Mac with OneDrive Business if they do not change this.
I personally consider OneDrive Business absolutely unusable. It is not a “drive” it is a SharePoint. It only works if you can live with its limitations and just consider it an offline synchronization of your team site. Personally I cannot accept this. I was literally searching for a “OneDrive” for multiple computers and devices. Seems I need to continue to search. Potentially the upcoming Apple iCloud Drive is an option.
Allow me a general comment: I would never recommend anything like OneDrive or iCloud Drive for a larger business or for stuff you want to keep confidential. The data is stored somewhere in an anonymous data center and you have no control over who really has access to this. Personally I would like to use it to share some documents and pictures between computers. For anything above that I would not consider it appropriate.