OneDrive for Business housekeeping

Microsoft has a limit of 100GB of OneDrive storage space. This page provides tips and tricks for managing OneDrive files to stay within these limits.

Open OneDrive in a web browser

All of the following information assumes that you have OneDrive for Business open in a modern browser such as Chrome, Edge or Safari. If you do not have it open already, sign in to:


Go to the top left hand corner and click on the 9 dots (referred to as a waffle) and select OneDrive

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It is good practice to clear the Recycle bin each month and just before you do any housekeeping – if you accidentally delete anything you have 30 days in which to retrieve it and it will be easier to find it if the Recycle bin is otherwise empty. 

Click on Recycle bin on the left hand menu and then select Empty recycle bin above the list of files. 

There is a second-stage recycle bin from which you can retrieve files for a short period of time, but the second-stage recycle bin does not count towards your limit.

  1. In a web browser, access the Office365 website using your username in the format and SSO password
  2. Select the app launcher icon in the top left
  3. Select OneDrive
  4. Select the cog icon in the top right
  5. Select OneDrive settings > More Settings > Storage Metrics

Free space is displayed in the top right corner. Select the Total Size column to order folders by those that use the most storage.

As a general rule of thumb, it is best to target the folders using the most storage. Drill down on the top item to get to the largest folder and see what files it holds.

Look through the files and folders and decide what can be deleted. If the decision is made to delete it, you will need to do so either from My Files within OneDrive online, or from Windows Explorer deleting the local copy which will result in the online copy also being deleted. 


It is a good idea to have two tabs open, one with MyFiles – OneDrive open and the other with Storage Metrics open. 


When you have drilled down to a folder, the total size of each file may seem larger than you would expect and in particular that it is larger than if you check the same file in Windows Explorer.  For these files, it is worth clicking on the Version History link on the right hand side of the folder listing.

When you click on Version History it shows you how many versions it is storing including the current version. It is possible to revert to an earlier version at this point. 


Right click on Version History and open in a new tab.


If you have finished editing a file, it is a good idea to delete the earlier versions in order to free up disk space – especially if it is a large file and there are multiple copies.  The Delete All Versions link should be read as Delete all previous versions and is a quick way to free up disk space (remembering that the versions will initially be placed in the recycle bin).

It is convenient to use OneDrive for Business to share files. Some files will be shared with external collaborators as a one off, whilst early drafts of other files will be shared with a small number of colleagues in order to solicit feedback. However, OneDrive for Business should not be seen as the final repository for files which need to be shared.  For one thing, when you leave the University all your OneDrive for Business files will be deleted including the ones which have been shared (see Finishing IT use at Oxford for further information).

The help page Storing your files explains a variety of places where final copies of documents could be placed in order to share them. Two of the most obvious are SharePoint Online and Teams. In both cases, when you leave the University, the files will remain available to your colleagues (as long as the Teams site has at least one other owner besides yourself). 

You can see which files you have shared from your OneDrive for Business account by clicking on Shared in the left hand menu bar. Make sure you click on the By you tab at the top. 

If you want to stop sharing a file, hover to the right of the name and click on the ellipsis  which appears and select Manage Access.

There is a quick way to move OneDrive files to SharePoint, but only from the MyFiles section and not from the Shared section.  To switch section, click on the ellipsis  and select Open Location and OneDrive will switch to MyFiles and open in the relevant folder. Select the file, or group of files, in MyFiles and click on the ellipsis  , you can select Move to and move to either a SharePoint Online document library or a Teams site. 

At this point, you may wish to delete your copy from OneDrive for Business and free up disk space.

Whilst it is convenient to have a mix of private files and work files in the same place, OneDrive for Business is provided for University business.  It is better to store private files in an entirely different place, where they are not taking up part of the space allocation and where they will not be lost if you leave the University. 

If you do store semi-private files on OneDrive for Business (e.g. CV and payslips), then you may wish to create a top-level folder called Personal for these files.  This will make it much easier to take a copy of them when you leave and it also means that you know how much space they are occupying.

When you have finished tidying up your files, do remember to empty the recycle bin again in order for the freed up disk space to be reflected in your storage metrics.

Housekeeping should not be a one-off exercise.  Schedule it in as a regular exercise at least once a year.  Remember to delete all old drafts and versions you no longer need.

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