OneDrive for Business Gets a Helper

onedriveIf you are a OneDrive for Business user you surely know that it can be troublesome sometimes. Syncing occasionally gets snagged and it can be difficult to troubleshoot what is going on. Finally it looks like Microsoft is taking this issue seriously.

It appears that last week Microsoft added a new and largely unheralded capability to the Office 365 checker tool.

A change to Microsoft’s main troubleshooting article for OneDrive for Business, KB 3125202, added a reference to an option in the Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant for Office 365 tool that can be used to scan for files that are too big, file and folder names that have invalid characters, for path names that exceed the length limit, and several other headache-inducing problems. This appears to be a new capability for the Office 365 checker tool.

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Screenshot of Microsoft’s new Support Tool

Here’s what the new information says:

Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant for Office 365 

 

 

The Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant for Office 365 is a tool that can diagnose and fix many common Office 365 problems. The OneDrive for Business option “I’m having a problem with OneDrive for Business” now scans for the following issues:

  • Checks the option to manually or automatically update the NGSC+B to its latest version.
  • Reports all files that have sizes exceeding the limit.
  • Reports all files that have invalid characters in the names.
  • Reports all folders that have invalid characters or strings in the names.
  • Reports all paths exceeding the limit and provides a link to this KB article.

The tool is available from http://diagnostics.outlook.com. When you run this tool, the initial page will display several options, including the new option for OneDrive for Business: “I’m having a problem with OneDrive for Business.”

This looks like an excellent tool for anyone troubleshooting OneDrive for Business problems. I dowloanded it this morning and although I was not experiencing any OneDrive issues at the time it looks to be a promising tool when working with OneDrive issues.

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Microsoft Enhances OneDrive in a Big Way

One of the best ways to protect your photos is to back them up automatically using a cloud service. My favorite one for this is Microsoft’s OneDrive. Once installing OneDrive on your smartphone (and sign up – or into) the service you can setup automatic photo uploads. Once you do this you will be able to access your photos from wherever you are – on whatever device you are using, assuming you have internet access.

OneDrive Banner

I have been using OneDrive for years to backup and manage my photos and the service has improved over the years. This week Microsoft updated OneDrive which really makes this a great solution for anyone looking to backup and manage their photos.

Backing up your photos is incredibly important because someday your smartphone may (will) fail or be lost or stolen and you do not want to be in a position where all of your photos are gone.

Let’s take a look at the major OneDrive updates, including yes, a enhancement for Pokemon gamers.

Automatic albums is probably the most handy addition, and reminds us of Google Photos. OneDrive now detects when you took a few photos in a short period of time and in a particular location. The highest quality photos are selected and put into an album, and you get a notification when they’re ready to view and share. Automatic albums appear on OneDrive.com, in OneDrive’s mobile apps, and in the Windows 10 Photos app.

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Speaking of the Windows 10 Photos app, you can now expect tighter integration with OneDrive. When you sign into Windows 10 with your Microsoft account, all of your OneDrive photos will now show up. You can also use the app to upload local albums to OneDrive.

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The OneDrive.com website has gained a new “On this day” view in your All photos page. As the name implies, this view shows images you took over the years on that same day.

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Another view is the one dedicated to your folders that have a lot of photos in them. The new photos view includes a hero image, larger thumbnails, and a revised menu to help you quickly create an album or share photos.

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Search now works directly in the All photos view, understands photos that have been tagged, photos from a specific location, and even supports using emojis. These new types of searches work on OneDrive.com as well as the OneDrive mobile apps.

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Last but not least, Microsoft is jumping on the Pokémon Go bandwagon. If you take screenshots of your captured Pokémon, you’ll want to have the OneDrive mobile app installed. Thanks to some Microsoft Research technology, as long as you have camera upload turned on, the app will save your screenshots and identify all 150 Pokémon for you. You can then view and search for the Pokémon right in OneDrive.

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Updates like this one are a great reminder that competition in the cloud storage space is still fierce. And yet, no matter how many useful features Microsoft adds, it will continue to face an uphill battle because of its failures in mobile.

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Improvements Heading to OneDrive for Business

Here is some really – really good news for those of us living with OneDrive for Business.

This week Microsoft announced improvements and new capabilities in its OneDrive for Business sync, browser and mobile experiences, as well as new IT controls for administrators. These include updates to the Next Generation Sync Client that was released in December 2015.

“OneDrive for Business has made significant progress in the last 6 months,” Microsoft corporate vice president Jeff Teper writes in a new post to the Office Blogs. “But we know there’s always more for us to do to improve the service.”

The exciting news here is the improvements on the way which are much needed for OneDrive for Business.

Here are some of upcoming changes:

  • Windows 8.1 support. You may recall that the original version of this client only supported Windows 7, 8.0, and 10.
  • Office 2016 integration. This will happen in conjunction with an Office 2016 update taht currently rolling out, bringing key features like real-time co-authoring, open documents from the Most Recent list and share documents from within the Office applications.
  • Improved setup. No more registry keys needed on Windows or Terminal window on Mac. (Not sure what that means.)
  • Seamless client migration. You can upgrade from the previous client version without requiring a resync.
  • Pause sync. This lets you suspend file sync for a period of time, like when you are tethered to your phone or using Wi-Fi on an airplane. (This one feature will roll out over the summer, Microsoft says.)
  • View files online. You can now right click any document in Windows Explorer and select ‘view online’ to navigate to the OneDrive for Business file or folder in your web browser.
  • Sync any file type you want. OneDrive for Business now supports new file types like .json, .aspx, .swf and more. And you can now add any file type to your OneDrive for Business.
  • Block file types. IT admins can now block certain file types from syncing.
  • Performance and reliability improvements. Small files in particular get a big boost in upload and download speed.

Additionally, Microsoft is making the following improvements across other OneDrive for Business access points:

OneDrive for Business on the web. Now you can remove items from a shared list. (But you can still find them with search.) And the process for sharing with people outside your environment is being streamlined.

Android and iOS. Microsoft is integrating Outlook Mobile with OneDrive for Business, so you will be able to share files through email on both iOS and Android in the coming weeks. The OneDrive app for Android is picking up a richer sharing experience, a new PDF viewing and annotation experience, and an embedded Office Lens experience. And OneDrive for iOS is gaining a new, richer sharing experience, and Office 365 Data Loss Prevention (DLP) policy support.

There are also new IT controls coming and even some developer-oriented features. Arguably pretty big month for OneDrive for Business. You can learn more in this video overview.

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Microsoft Backtracks On Unlimited Storage

If you have read many of my previous posts regarding Microsoft’s OneDrive you no doubt recall that I had praised them for offering “unlimited” cloud space to their subscribers. However as you will learn nothing is at it seems and a few bad eggs can ruin so much for everyone else.

This week a new post on the OneDrive blog, Microsoft has revealed reported that a small number of users have been abusing the cloud storage service since Microsoft began rolling out “unlimited storage” for Office 365 subscribers late last year.

Some of this abuse resulted in these users storing in excess of 75 TB, yes terabytes, of data in their accounts that included complete music, DVD, DVR recordings and backups for multiple PCs. Completely unacceptable and something Microsoft could obviously not allow to continue.

According to Microsoft, this small number of users were taking up over 14,000 times the average storage that was used by others users on the service. If you do the math that means the average user on OneDrive is storing approximately 5.4 GB of files on the service.

It was just over a year ago when Microsoft announced that all Office 365 subscribers would ultimately get unlimited storage at no additional cost.

Of course, an offer like this was very well received and they began the roll out immediately. However, sometime earlier this year the process of upgrading Office 365 Home, Personal and University accounts ground to a halt without any explanation.

Recently it appears that with this update from the OneDrive team, we know exactly why those upgrades to unlimited storage stopped being applied to accounts on the cloud storage service.

Apparently the unlimited storage for Office 365 customers is not the only area that is going to change.

According to the the OneDrive team the following storage options will be modified:

  • 100 GB and 200 GB subscription plans are being discontinued and will be replaced with a 50 GB option for $1.99 per month. This will happen in early 2016.
  • The 15 GB of free OneDrive storage, which everyone with a Microsoft Account receives, will be reduced to just 5 GB for all current and new users. Those changes also roll out in early 2016.
  • The 15 GB Camera Roll bonus has been offered for sometime with Windows Phone devices and was even a marketing ploy when iPhone users did not have enough space to upgrade their phones to the latest iOS version. At the time, Apple recommended that users delete photos in order to free up space so Microsoft offered the free 15 GB Camera Roll to them instead.  This free 15 GB of space for photo storage will be discontinued in early 2016.
  • Office 365 subscribers will still receive 1TB of storage with their subscription instead of the previously offered unlimited option.

Microsoft states that they want to make this transition as easy as possible for customers and will implement it as follows:

  • Any Office 365 customer using in excess of 1 TB of storage will be notified directly and be allowed to keep the extra storage for at least 12 months.
  • Office 365 customers who feel the 1 TB storage offer with their subscription no longer fits their needs will be offered a pro-rated refund for the balance of their subscription.
  • If you are using more than the 5 GB of free storage you will retain access to all of your files for 12 months after these new changes go into effect. Those users will also be offered a free one year subscription to Office 365 Personal (credit card required to sign up) to increase that storage to 1TB for the following 12 months. In order to retain that level of storage the same users will need to renew their Office 365 Personal subscription at a cost of $69.99 when the free subscription expires.
  • Current subscribers of the 100 GB and 200 GB storage plans are unaffected and will be allowed to maintain these subscriptions.

In all of these situations if your storage allowance is lowered you should not lose access to your files on the service however, you will be unable to store any new data on OneDrive until you remove enough files to drop below your new storage allowance. This is how OneDrive has always worked in the past and handled overages in a storage account.

Responsible users of OneDrive are going to be upset at this news and rightly so. A promise was made to deliver unlimited storage if those users subscribed to Microsoft Office 365 offering and that is now being pulled out from under those same loyal customers. The offers of pro-rated refunds are fine but this is more than just offering refunds.

It is never a good thing to punish the majority of users for the actions of a few inconsiderate ones and the backlash from this unexpected announcement is going to put a dent in any good will Microsoft has recently been earning with its dedicated customers.

All of this being understood I continue to believe that Microsoft 365 and OneDrive (1TB of storage) is an excellent deal for the majority of reasonable users.

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Sharing With OneDrive Just Got Better

My favorite cloud storage solution today is OneDrive. As a matter of fact for about $99 a year you can have unlimited cloud storage for up to 5 family members as well as the Microsoft Office suite of applications. This to me, is a really good value. Why pay for just cloud storage when you can also have Microsoft Office and include 5 family members on your plan.

I have seen the OneDrive service make great strides since its launch 8 years ago (2007). Yes – it has been around that long.

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Microsoft’s OneDrive storage service was updated yesterday to let users easily sync entire folders with other people, and add a new system of notifications to help manage what could be a burgeoning fleet of shared files.

Microsoft announced last week that users can now sync the contents of folders shared through OneDrive on their computers, something that previously wasn’t available through the service. Now, personal and business users can use the “Add to my OneDrive” button in the service’s Web interface to add a shared folder to the root of their OneDrive directory. The functionality works on Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Mac OS X. Notably, Windows 8.1 users will have to upgrade to Windows 10 if they want to sync shared folders to their computer.

This sharing feature puts OneDrive into closer competition with its peers like Google Drive and Dropbox, which already featured similar capabilities. Prior to this, OneDrive users who had a folder shared with them would have to manually download changed files in order to have revised versions available to them on their desktop.

Starting with the update, the OneDrive mobile app will now notify iOS, Android and Windows Phone users whenever someone edits a file that they shared. Like other push notifications, Apple Watch owners will get a nudge on their wrist whenever a file they shared gets updated, which can be useful when waiting for someone to tweak a key file. Getting regular notifications for frequently updated documents, however, could be more of an annoyance than a benefit.

Microsoft also extended OneDrive’s search capabilities to users’ shared documents, so people can find files that have been shared with them based on the content of documents like PDFs and files created in Office.

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Staff Technology Training – Session 17

Today we provided our regular – quarterly technology training to the staff. The topics covered included SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, Skype for Business, Password Management & Two Factor Authentication.  You can check it our here, as well as all of our previous training classes here.

 

 

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OneDrive Gets a Make Over

Microsoft has announced that OneDrive on the web is getting a fresh coat of paint. A new design for the web version of the cloud storage service is rolling out to users over the next several days with a refreshed color palette, font, and a new visual feel based off of a 4px grid.

OneDrive gets a visual refresh on the web

Perhaps one of the most major changes lies in that 4px grid, on which the entire OneDrive web experience is now based.

From Microsoft:

“After several rounds of iteration, we landed on a 4px grid, which allowed for enough flexibility in layout, while maintaining the visual density and stability we wanted the experience to achieve. We also wanted to bring a measure of efficiency to our studio processes by creating a single grid that could work across both web and native layouts. The 4px solution accomplished both goals.

Every component was reworked to snap to the new visual and responsive grids – panels, dialogs, file list, left navigation, commanding, and even buttons. It was a lot of work, but we’re quite pleased with the outcome and hope you are too.”

Following up on the grid changes, Microsoft reports that it has refreshed the color palette of OneDrive on the web. The team started with the already-established dark blue that is typically associated with OneDrive and went on to add accents with a complementary set of grays. Finally, Microsoft highlighted the font used in OneDrive on the web, called Segoe:

Type is about clarity. Keeping it simple improves the way a design communicates. And one of the biggest goals we had when it came to our decisions around type was to create a more legible, readable, and clear experience that celebrates your content, not our UI. For web, we use Segoe, a custom type family that is the core visual identity element throughout Microsoft’s product ecosystem. It is used for all digital products and is designed to maintain legibility across sizes and pixel densities.

Microsoft says that the redesign is by no means finished, and this is just the start. It should be rolling out to users over the next few days, but we haven’t seen it live on our end just yet.

Here is the screenshot that was posted by Twitter user @O_Guinomo earlier today.

OneDrive Web Refresh

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Office for Your Kids – for Free

How we all wish for free things. Oh an how I wish my boys (27 and 23) today were younger, perhaps in high school or heading into college today. Microsoft who already offers an amazing Office 365 for Home at $9.95 a month for an entire family with unlimited OneDrive storage is now actually offering Office for Students for free. Why did I have my boys so young?

Back in September 2014 Microsoft announced a program that let students at US schools see if they were eligible for a free Office 365 license. Students and teachers outside the US can now take advantage of the streamlined process as well.


 


 

Microsoft suggests that millions of students around the world now qualify for free Office subscriptions. Eligible students simply need a school email address in order to complete the sign up.

Interested students can check their eligibility on Microsoft’s Office 365 page. Teachers have their own page as well.

Although these students were technically already qualified for Office, they would have to go through a lengthy process with their schools to approve the subscription; the new process should make it much easier for students to sign up right away.

As before, students receive Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access and Publisher with their subscriptions. They’ll also get 1 TB of OneDrive Storage and access to Office Online.

Here we have another example of services — good services — actually available for free.

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Another 100GB Offer from OneDrive

onedrive_100gb_free_offerWhen it comes to beating cloud storage rival DropBox, Microsoft is obviously practicing a two tiered strategy of working with the rival to improve cross-service integration, while at the same time looking to outpace it with aggressive promotions.

As the latest proof of this strategy demonstrates Microsoft is offering to boost usage of its cloud storage with a giveaway of 100 gigabytes of cloud storage to any user with a Dropbox account.  The promotion appears to apply to both new users and users with existing OneDrive accounts.  You can grab the extra storage go here.

With Windows 10 tightly integrating OneDrive into its core apps, including the new Music and Photos hubs, the cloud storage utility will play an increasingly important role.


 


 

 

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Microsoft Offers 100GB of Free OneDrive Space

Here is a free offer that I found offering 100 GB of storage space through Microsoft.

Get 100 GB of online storage free for 2 years

Bing Rewards and OneDrive have teamed up to offer 100 GB of OneDrive storage for 2 years. With your new Bing Rewards membership you’ll be eligible to earn even more awesome rewards like gift cards and sweepstakes entries.

While signing up for Bing Rewards is free, you will be sent email reminders, tips, information about Bing Rewards and also the Bing Newsletter.

You can learn more here.

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