What's really going on in OneDrive for Business

What's really going on in OneDrive for Business

Summary: There are stories going around that Microsoft's OneDrive for Business is altering your files. There's some truth to that, but it's probably not what you think it is. Nor is it Microsoft tracking your files for its own purposes.


According to some people, Microsoft's OneDrive for Business, the business cloud storage service formerly known as SkyDrive Pro, is changing your documents and files without telling you or asking your permission. That's true as far it goes, but it's not the whole story.

OneDrive for Business mobile
OneDrive for Business mobile

If you'd been paying close attention to OneDrive for Business, you'd already know that it's not simply an upgrade of the personal storage cloud service OneDrive. Instead, OneDrive for Business has long been based on SharePoint Workplace, where metadata is added as a matter of course to make your files more useful.

Officially, Microsoft explained, "Limited metadata is added to content to support advanced document management scenarios and preserve user experiences. Examples of this include synchronizing document properties across its parent folder to enrich discovery or updating links when a link has changed. The functionality behind this has been in the product for several releases and is designed to synchronize important metadata between a document and a Document Library including OneDrive for Business."

In short, Microsoft is not doing anything new. Nor is there any reason to believe that they've been hiding this information or using it to tag your files for their own purposes.

True, if you were using OneDrive for Business as if it were just a pure file storage service such as Dropbox, Microsoft seeminglt changing your files by adding metadata could be annoying or even upsetting. If you know what's really happening behind the OneDrive for Business scenes, the "changes" in your files make perfect sense.

That said, this episode does point out that whenever you're using any cloud service you do need to make sure you know exactly what your vendor is doing with your data. If you don't, finding unexpected metadata-driven changes to your documents could easily prove to be the least of your worries.

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Topics: Cloud, Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Networking, Storage

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  • No thanks

    I've been happy with drivehq for the past couple of years. This kind of article just makes me scared to leave. Really, just how safe can a service really be if they have the ability to change what's in your account without you knowing? This time it seems to be a change for the better, but what if some disgruntled employee wants to quit and does something nasty to customer accounts as a way of getting back at the company? We all know it's happened before.
    • The disgruntled employee scenario

      exists with any cloud provider, period. The metadata's being added systematically, not by a bunch of cheap labor.
    • And what is that disgruntled employee at drivehq

      doing with your files this very minute?
  • Credit where credit is due

    Wow, SJVN wrote an article, about Microsoft no less, and didn't trash Microsoft. Not only that, but it was informative. Thanks.
    Sir Name
    • Cringe

      It still makes me cringe because it is simply an attempt to muster up some credibility before the next wave of Windows hate articles.

      We have danced this dance before.
      • Have we?

        I think this article is unprecedented!
        x I'm tc
  • What I said...

    a week ago, when this surfaced.

    The people bleating on about it then didn't mention that they were using SharePoint in the brackground and that this is what SharePoint is supposed to do.

    The other issue, with adding additional lines of HTML in HTML documents for addition fixes for IE 9 or later also make some sense, if a little worrying, if you are using OneDrive to store the source code. You can "publish" the directories with HTML code, so I assume that SharePoint is automatically adding the changes required to cleanly display the pages.

    Great if you are using OneDrive for sharing pages, not so great if you just want to store copies of your code for safe keeping.
  • OneDrive for Business is SharePoint..

    This isn't a bad thing as such, but Microsoft are positioning it as something else (a competitor to Box or Dropbox). As others have said this sort of file changing behavior is normal for SharePoint. But most SharePoint users aren't totally on board with SharePoint and its sometimes unique ways of doing things.. people looking for an Enterprise cloud storage/sync tool definitely aren't ready!

    I wrote more about this here: http://ow.ly/woGWj