What is the best way to transfer files between personal computers, tablets and smartphones?
Not so many years ago the answer would have been copying them to a USB stick to carry around in your bag or pocket, or even to email copies of the file between the various devices that you want to view it on.
But there are problems with both of these solutions.
First, USB sticks packed with precious data quickly wear out, second they are easily lost in the busiest of days.
Emailing copies of files between devices is a fine solution but it makes editing word processing files, for example, and saving the differences between files difficult and complicated.
Many internet based file sharing services are available but nothing quite matches the simplicity and effectiveness of Microsoft's OneDrive service.
OneDrive used to be called SkyDrive, Microsoft's virtual hard disk drive in the sky. But it recently changed the name to reflect the fact that it can be used as the one place where you store everything.
OneDrive makes your data accessible on every form of computing device regardless of its make, model and what operating system software it is using. OneDrive comes built into Microsoft Windows 8.1 and the latest version of Microsoft Office so you can save Office files to it in the same way that you would save files to a USB stick or external hard disk drive.
As long as you have an internet connection you can open and edit the same files from the Office app on a Windows Phone or just view them from the OneDrive app. Microsoft has also made Office and OneDrive apps available on Apple's iOS mobile platform which runs on the iPad, iPhone and iPod. The same apps are also available on Google's Android smart phone and tablet platform.
So OneDrive is truly a one size fits all solution.
In Windows 8 and 8.1 a OneDrive folder automatically appears in the Favourites list of File Explorer accessed from the Windows Desktop by clicking on the folder icon. If you're using Windows 7 you can download the OneDrive desktop app from Microsoft's OneDrive.com website and that does the same thing . . . creates a folder in File Explorer.
To access OneDrive you need a Microsoft account. These days it's called Outlook and can be found at Outlook.com. But if you have an old Hotmail, MSN or Windows Live account you'll find it has OneDrive storage bundled with it. You get 7GB with a Microsoft account and more storage added with other Microsoft services. You can also buy more.
Once you've signed in to the OneDrive folder you are able to drag and drop files that you want access to on you smart phone or table into that folder. If you have an internet connection a little blue circular arrow appears as the file synchronizes with the online folder. You'll need an internet connection to open the file on another device and if you make any changes to it they will be synchronized back to the file on your personal computer just as soon as it is powered back on and has an internet connection.
You can even edit files from OneDrive on, say, a friend's or work PC where Office is not installed so long as it has internet connectivity. Microsoft has included basic document editing functionality online when you sign in to your Hotmail, MSN, Windows Live or Outlook account and navigate to the OneDrive section of the website.
You can also copy your photos to OneDrive and browse them, among friends, on your phone or tablet.
Find out more at OneDrive.com and never need a USB stick or to email a file again.