Filling A Reservoir With A Teaspoon

I’ve been using Microsoft’s OneDrive since it was launched as Windows Live SkyDrive, back in 2007. By the time it got renamed as OneDrive in 2014, I had 40 GB of free storage available in the Cloud to use for storing documents and photos.

I’ve noticed a change in my computing habits over the years. When I had just my Desktop PC, my primary location for storing both documents and photos was local storage on my PC. Backups were taken daily and stored on our Windows Home Server system, with secondary backups of the most important data taken from that server and stored off-site.

With the arrival of the Cloud, I first started storing copies of selected photos and documents in Microsoft’s SkyDrive/OneDrive, primarily as a means of sharing them with friends and family.

With the arrival of my first “proper”tablet, the ThinkPad Tablet 2, back in January 2013, I started to make more use of OneDrive as the primary location for my OneNote documents. It was simple to create a OneNote document (usually on the Tablet), and then continue to work on it on my PC. That has grown to the point where my primary storage location for OneNote documents is no longer a local device (the desktop PC or the Tablet), but the Documents folder in OneDrive, which is synchronised transparently across all my devices (now a desktop PC, a Windows tablet, a Lumia Smartphone and a laptop).

When I bought a license for Office Home & Student 2013 for my ThinkPad Tablet, I began storing all my Office documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) in OneDrive by default. That way, they would be immediately accessible from my other machines and synchronised with them.

With my 40 GB of free online storage available in OneDrive, this would probably suffice for my documents and selected photos.

But then, last month, Microsoft announced that music media could be stored in OneDrive, and be available to my devices. In truth, it’s not really necessary for me, I already use the Windows Home Server as my music media storage; but the thought of having extra backup options appealed to me. With a music collection that is currently 215 GB in size, I would not be able to hold a duplicate, backup copy, on OneDrive as it stood.

I decided to bite the bullet, and take out a yearly subscription to Office 365 Personal (70 euros annually). That way I would kill several birds with one stone:

  • Upgrade my license of Office 2010 on my Desktop PC to Office 2013,
  • Be able to install Office 2013 on a further Windows tablet
  • Get 1TB of OneDrive storage, and
  • Get 60 minutes of Skype calls to landline telephone numbers (useful for overseas calls).

So I’ve subscribed, and also signed up for the “unlimited storage” option of OneDrive that Microsoft announced last year. Today, I received an email from Microsoft telling me that my Office 365 account now has unlimited storage and they’ve added an initial 10TB of storage. I’m only scratching the surface of what is available:

OneDrive 14

And now I’m discovering that I’m trying to fill a reservoir with a teaspoon. My connection to the internet is via ADSL, and with 4 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speeds, it is not blazingly fast. I reckon that it’s going to take several weeks to upload my music collection to OneDrive, and a couple of weeks for my photos. An added complication is that the Smart files feature of Windows 8.1 is being removed by Microsoft in Windows 10, while they work out how to re-engineer it. This means that the user experience of using OneDrive storage will take a step backwards until at least mid 2016.

Still, I’ve now moved across to using OneDrive as my primary storage for documents, and given time, it will also become the primary storage for my photos, and possibly for my music. I’ll still be using our Windows Home Server for local storage and backup as an additional safety measure.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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3 Responses to Filling A Reservoir With A Teaspoon

  1. I also find myself doing more and more in the cloud so I can access it from various devices. In August I’ll fly across the Atlantic to visit Greece with my wife and my parents. I’m old enough to remember waiting for film developing after a trip (also my first programs were in Fortran on punch cards). Of course now I’ll be taking pictures digitally as I have since 2001. But the really cool but today very ordinary thing is how I’ll show pix to my wife and parents while there: from my phone I’ll post them to the cloud so I can display them on my tablet (because my phone has a better camera than my tablet, but my tablet has a bigger screen). In other words, the easiest way of getting my pictures across the hotel room will be sending them across the Atlantic and back!

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      Matt, it wouldn’t surprise me if in fact your pictures first end up in a European data centre, and then get replicated across to the US. Both Google and Microsoft have data centres set up worldwide, with more being built all the time (

      • Matt Healy says:

        You’re right, and actually that’s kind of the point: neither my relatives in the US nor I in Greece will know or care on which continent my pictures are stored — that’s the nature of the cloud. In my case it will be the Google cloud.

        As you know, I’m in pharmaceutical research. My employers are beginning to use the cloud for analyzing our scientific data such as genome sequences from patients in our clinical trials. With clinical data we do need to know the physical location, so we’re working with a vendor to establish a secure private cloud. Rate-limiting steps in setting this up have not been technical issues so much as the need for everything to be approved by lawyers at both companies.

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