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Microsoft Storage Clash: OneDrive vs Azure

Microsoft Storage Clash: OneDrive vs Azure

Since Windows-based solutions are so popular all over the globe, Microsoft is naturally interested in providing its users with native cloud storage tools for their data. You must have already heard about two of them: OneDrive and Azure Storage. In this article, we will explore their differences and try to find out which one is better.

Table of Contents

    Working with OneDrive

    OneDrive storage is a default solution for Windows users. It is integrated into Windows 8, 8.1, RT 8.1, and 10. Some basic MS products such as Office are integrated with OneDrive so that it is available as an option when saving documents. But this local OneDrive folder needs to be synchronized with cloud storage, enabling a user to manage files both locally and in the cloud.

    In order to activate cloud storage, users have to log in to website with their Microsoft account. Similar to Amazon Drive or Google Drive, it has some initial storage (5 GB ) available for free, but further expansion comes at a price. The basic plan offers 50GB limit at $1.99/month and other plans offer even more storage capacity. OneDrive for home users does not include a guaranteed quality-of-service level, but you can get SLA with OneDrive for Business. Let us summarize the differences between both editions in the following table:

    OneDriveOneDrive for Business
    Storage limit50GB1TB (can be increased for 5 user subscriptions)
    Price per user$1.99 per monthStarts at $6.99 per month
    Free tierYesTrial Only
    SLANo99.9% uptime, 24/7 phone support, and protection of user data from unauthorized access.
    Data protection toolsNoAvailable for advanced subscriptions
    Consumer vs. Professional Cloud Storage
    Find out which storage solutions best suit your specific needs: consumer - such as OneDrive - or professional - such as Azure.
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    Free OneDrive does not provide any specific tools for cloud backup or file versioning. Archived data can be stored in OneDrive together with other files and documents, but in order to prevent losses, Microsoft recommends its users to create offline backups and save file versions with the help of Windows built-in features. Additionally, the In-Place Hold feature is available for the advanced Business plan, which preserves the original state of OneDrive storage after editing or deleting its files.


    We don't recommend to back up your data to Microsoft OneDrive and OneDrive for Business, which is why we do not support these solutions in our MSP360 Backup software. Check the list of supported solutions here.

    Working with Azure

    Cloud storage is one of the basic services available at Azure dashboard to any registered user. There are two storage classes: Standard and Premium. The latter is designed only for Azure Virtual Machines, so it cannot be compared to OneDrive. The Standard class supports the following services:

    • Blob storage of binary files, documents or media data
    • Table storage: NoSQL data
    • Queue storage for messaging
    • File storage for legacy applications

    Blob storage service organizes data uploaded to Azure into objects called 'blobs', which can be used for storing backups:/p>

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    Further reading Azure as a Backup Storage Destination

    The total volume of blobs created by a single user can be up to 500TB. Data can be retrieved from the 'Hot' (frequently accessed) type of storage for free, but the user will be charged for uploading and storage usage.

    Azure's Standard storage ensures redundancy of uploaded data, which level must be chosen before creating a backup. For example, choosing the Locally Redundant level will result in storing three copies of an object within a single facility, while the Geo-Redundant level means that six copies will be kept in two different locations. The more remote copies are, the less the risk of data loss is. Besides, Azure supports file versioning to prevent data loss and has SLA with 99.9% processing success guarantee with about 98% of monthly uptime.

    Microsoft Azure has expanded their Azure Blob Storage to the several tiers, so users can store several types of data there - data, which needed to be accessed frequently (Azure Blob Hot Storage), data with less frequent access needs (Azure Blob Cool Storage) and data, that you need to preserve for archiving needs (Azure Blob Archive Storage). Each tier is consequently cheaper to store files in, and consequently more expensive to recover.

    Boost Your Profits with Azure Storage and MSP360
    Discover how to use Azure for backup in detail and perform secure, automated and price-effective backups with MSP360 Managed Backup integrated with Azure Blob Storage.

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    Azure has no features for working offline, and it does not require client installation. By default, its users perform all operations with their storage via the standard online dashboard. However, you can use third-party desktop solutions such as MSP360 Explorer for Microsoft Azure with the full support of Azure Storage to manage your data there.


    Which One Is Better and When?

    OneDrive is a lightweight online storage with a free tier of services suitable for home use. Azure Storage is a much more durable solution with a hierarchy of service tiers. However, this comes at a price.

    In order to compare MS Azure to OneDrive, we will explore several important parameters:

    OneDriveAzure Storage
    First startPre-installed in the latest Windows versions. Users can activate OneDrive accounts via their existing Microsoft registrationAvailable after a separate registration in Azure system
    Benefits for SMBsTargeted at individual customers mostly, but offers a special OneDrive for Business subscription plan making it possible to increase the storage limit up to 5TB for one userOffers 500TB for single storage with a broader set of management options (lifecycle management, secure import/export via Azure data center)
    Integration with MS OfficeAvailable as an option for saving MS Office files, so they could go directly to the cloudDoes not provide special services for MS Office apps
    DurabilityOffers file versioning for MS Office documents and quality-of-service guarantees only in Business versionRedundancy options for data backups, file versioning, and lifecycle management
    SLAOnly for Business version: 99.9% uptime, 24/7 phone support, and protection of user data from unauthorized accessData read & write requests will be served successfully for 99.99% of the time, about 98% of monthly uptime
    PriceOffers subscription plans with fixed monthly payments, starting at $1.99 per month for up to 50GB of storage availableCharges users for each GB of data stored, starting with $0.00099 per month. An additional fee is applied when uploading and modifying files
    BackupsDoesn't offer any special backup service or storageHas a special Cloud Backup service. It stores backup data in special storage for infrequent access with extended protection and security
    Native offline workYes (synchronization)No

    So for home use, especially for beginners, it is better to try out OneDrive with its free 5GB storage option. But small and medium businesses dealing with several times bigger data volumes need more storage space and data safety options. Azure redundancy and advanced backup management would be the best choice for them.

    Backup icon
    MSP360 Backup for Microsoft Azure
    • Support for Azure Hot, Cool, and Archive Blob storage tiers
    • Integration with Azure Lifecycle Management Policy
    • Encryption and compression
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