Every Windows user should have a Microsoft ID - a username and password used to log in to one of Microsoft’s services like Outlook.com email, OneDrive online storage, Xbox Live, Skype and so on. Even Windows 10 uses the same username and password these days.
This means you have access to 5GB of free online storage. The files and folders on the OneDrive website are identical to the files and folders stored in the OneDrive folder on Windows PCs.
(Windows 7 users have to manually install the app from onedrive.com, but it is built into Windows 10.)
These days 5GB is not a great deal of space and it is easy to fill it with backups of photos, videos, music and documents.
If you are running short of space on OneDrive there is always the option to upgrade to a plan with more space. You can get up to 5TB with the top plan, although working with that amount of online data would be very tedious. It would take some people a month just to upload 5TB of files, even if they had 5TB to upload.
The free 5GB isn’t enough, but the plans are too much, either in space or price. What is the alternative? Just boost your free storage. I currently have 140GB free, which is plenty for my needs. Here’s how I got it.
1 Stick with it
The limit on the mount of online storage was not always 5GB and it has been up and down over the years. I had a Microsoft account when the free space was higher and my current limit is now 15GB.
I have also had a Microsoft account for a very long time. Even before OneDrive existed. So I get a loyalty bonus of another 10GB. My basic free space is therefore 25GB, which if I remember correctly, is what you used to get for free at one time.
There isn’t much a new user can do to earn more free space with this, so you either have it or you don’t. Check how much space you have on OneDrive.
- Log in to OneDrive.com with a browser
- Click the gear icon in the top left corner
- Click Options
- Click Manage storage
This shows the amount of free space, bonuses and extras.
2 Buy a new phone
Sometimes extras are bundled with mobile phones and once I got 100GB of free space on Dropbox. With my last phone, a Samsung, I got 100GB of free space on OneDrive valid for two years.
I am not suggesting that you go out and buy a new phone just to get a few more gigabytes of online storage space, but you should definitely check your phone and your OneDrive account to see whether you have more space than you realise. You might have extra space and have not yet claimed it.
If the OneDrive app is on your phone, but you have never used it, fire it up and log in. Your OneDrive storage might be upgraded for free.
3 Sync your photos
Even if you didn’t get any extra space bundled with the phone, you can get a space bonus for syncing your photos to OneDrive. Open the app might ask if you want to set up photo uploading, but if not, go to Settings in the app and turn on Camera Upload.
I get an extra 15GB of free storage space for enabling this feature. (Don’t tell Microsoft, but I’ve turned this off and I’ve still got the extra 15GB.)
4 Invite others
You can earn extra free space for your account by getting other people to use OneDrive. It might be hard to find people who don’t have a free account because so many people have Microsoft accounts, but if you know a few who don’t, you can earn 0.5GB for everyone that signs up.
- Log in to the OneDrive website
- Click the gear icon
- Select Options
- Click Manage storage
- Click Earn more on the right of Referral Bonus at the bottom
This has several options and at the top is a URL. Paste this anywhere, such as on your blog, in an email, on your car bumper, and so on. There are also share buttons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Sina Weibo. Click the links to share on social media and repeat this every every week or two.
The maximum number of referral bonuses is 20, which means you can get another 10GB of cloud storage space for free.
5 Empty the Recycle bin
Files that are deleted on the PC are not really deleted, they are moved to the Recycle bin in case you discover you really need them after all and want to recover them.
OneDrive has its own Recycle bin and files are moved there when they are deleted. If you never empty the Recycle bin, it will grow and grow. Files in the recycle bin count towards your total space usage. Delete them to recover the space.
Go to OneDrive and click Recycle bin on the left. Click Empty recycle bin at the top and the files are permanently deleted. The space they used is added to the free space in your account.
6 Compress files
If there are seldom used files on OneDrive, save them in a compressed zip file to save space. The space savings depend on the type of file and some can be compressed a lot, but others only a little. Zips are always smaller than the original files and it is just a question of how much space is saved.
How do you zip compress files on OneDrive? Do it on your PC. Open an Explorer window and select the OneDrive folder in the sidebar. Right click any file or folder in the OneDrive folder and select Send to > Compressed (zipped) folder. Delete the original file afterwards.
The OneDrive on the the PC's disk is synced with your online storage, so the zip gets uploaded automatically.