A Complete Guide to OneDrive Storage and Avoiding Disk Full Errors

A Complete Guide to OneDrive Storage and Avoiding Disk Full Errors

Microsoft OneDrive, formerly known as SkyDrive, is a complete cloud storage solution for Windows users. At the time, Microsoft was offering 15 GB of free storage to all new users. The company has also launched a campaign to reward another 15GB OneDrive storage for those who enable uploading the camera to cloud storage. In 2016, Microsoft downgraded the free OneDrive storage from 15GB to just 5GB. This practice makes it easier to fill the OneDrive space and you might get the cloud service ‘disk full’ error.

Unlike Google Drive, the storage quota on OneDrive works differently. Google Photos offers unlimited photo backup at high quality resolution that does not count towards the base 15 GB storage in Google Drive. Check out our Google Drive storage guide that explains what matters and what doesn’t.

OneDrive does not offer such a service. Every photo and video you upload to OneDrive will count toward 5GB of base storage.

OneDrive integration on Windows 10 makes it easy for users to fill the base space. On top of that, Microsoft only offers one storage option, and after that it forces users to go for the Microsoft 365 subscription.

In this article, we’ll discuss what matters in OneDrive storage and the steps you can take to avoid the full disk error on OneDrive. Let’s start.

What matters in OneDrive storage

OneDrive is a centralized solution to synchronize data from all Microsoft 365 applications. Software like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote use OneDrive to store and synchronize files and notebook. Word, PowerPoint, and Excel documents may not require huge storage, but over time they will take up a considerable amount of storage.

OneNote, Microsoft’s note-taking software, also uses the OneDrive service to store and sync notebooks across all platforms. If you upload a lot of images and videos to the OneNote app, it increases the size of the notebook and consumes more storage on OneDrive.

Onedrive storage

OneDrive also offers the ability to automatically download photos and videos from an iOS or Android phone. If by any chance you have enabled the OneDrive mobile app option, it will take a good amount of storage from the 5 GB quota.

As expected, OneDrive works closely with the Windows 10 operating system. The service integrates with the file manager in Windows 10. You can use OneDrive as a full disk in Windows 10 and save files to it. Using Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge, if you select your download location as the OneDrive folder, all downloaded files will be saved and synced with the cloud service.

How to fix the full storage error in OneDrive

As you can see from the list above, it’s pretty easy to fill the free storage space on OneDrive. If you want to make efficient use of this free 5GB storage, follow the steps below to make changes to OneDrive.

1. Save Office files offline or to other cloud storage

One of the benefits of using OneDrive with Office apps is that you have access to all files and documents on every platform. You can start a document on PC, save it to OneDrive, and continue to edit the same file on the phone with OneDrive sync.

Fortunately, Microsoft recognizes and supports other cloud storage solutions as well. You can ditch OneDrive and use services like Dropbox and Box to store and sync Office files.

Change the download location for Office files

If you are not using any cloud storage solution, save Office documents offline on PC or Mac. Once the job is done, just go to File> Save As and select File Manager as the location to save Office documents. As expected, you will not be able to access these files on other PCs or phones. You will need to transfer them manually using Pen Drive or Hard Drive.

2. Ditch OneNote

As mentioned above, OneNote uses OneDrive to sync and store notebooks. Unlike Office files, you can’t switch to other cloud storage solutions to store note data. Also, software like OneNote is not meant to be used offline, as you need to access notes stored on other platforms as well. In such cases, you have no choice but to ditch OneNote and use other note-taking apps.

Onenote offline error

Speaking of OneNote rivals, you can go for ancestral rival Evernote or Google Keep. You can also try modular software like Notion. Apple users can view iOS / macOS exclusive Bear Notes, Apple Notes, or Ulysses.

3. Disable the camera upload to OneDrive

If you are concerned that the OneDrive storage is full, you should turn off the camera’s automatic download option in the OneDrive mobile apps. Follow the steps below.

Note: The screenshots below are from the OneDrive iOS app. You can follow the same steps on the Android device as the interface is the same on both platforms.

Step 1: Open the OneDrive app on your iOS or Android device.

2nd step: Tap on the profile menu and go to Settings.

Access the onedrive settings

Step 3: Go to Camera Download and turn off the option for your account.

Camera download

Disable camrea download

When it comes to OneDrive camera alternatives, I would suggest using Google Photos, as the default unlimited high-quality backup option is sufficient for most users.

4. Change the download location on the browser

If you save all files downloaded from the internet to OneDrive, it’s time to change the default download location on the browser.

Change browser location

Go to browser settings and go to the Download tab. From the Downloads menu, change the default download location on your PC or Mac.

5. Empty the recycle bin

If you manually delete files from OneDrive, they aren’t permanently deleted. Deleted files remain in the Recycle Bin and take up space. To delete them, open OneDrive Web and go to Storage. Tap on Empty Trash option and delete unnecessary files.

Empty recycling bin

Free up storage on OneDrive

Follow the steps mentioned above and avoid full disk errors on OneDrive. You can still delete the files from the OneDrive website and free up space. If you want to use OneDrive as your primary cloud storage solution, you can always purchase the Microsoft 365 subscription which unlocks 1TB of OneDrive storage with Office apps.


Looking to master OneDrive? Read the article below to find the best tips and tricks for OneDrive.

Last updated on August 1, 2020

The above article may contain affiliate links that help support Guiding Tech. However, this does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains impartial and authentic.

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