31 Mar

Save Locations for OneNote Notebooks

Your OneNote notebook consists of sections and pages. I explained the structure to you in a previous blog article. By using these elements, you create a hierarchy with several levels, similar to file folders on your hard drive.

One big advantage: OneNote saves all elements automatically. You do not have to worry about the structure, and you do not have to deal with individual files. OneNote ensures that your notebooks are managed and displayed correctly in the app interface.

The OneNote app takes away your decision. It saves your digital notebooks in the Microsoft cloud OneDrive. You can create your user account for OneDrive for free.

Only with the desktop version OneNote 2016 you have another option: You can alternatively save notebooks locally on your PC or on an external hard drive. In this article, I will show you the advantages and disadvantages of the different save locations.

Save OneNote notebooks to Microsoft OneDrive

A cloud is a location on the internet. Most clouds are hosted by big companies with huge servers. In a cloud folder, you can store your files like in a folder on your hard drive. From this location, the files are then distributed via the internet to all available devices. The cloud folder is constantly synchronized with your PC, your laptop, your tablet and your smartphone. Each file is automatically kept up-to-date on every device.

Microsoft has been offering its own cloud solution for several years. Its name is OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive). OneDrive is integrated into all Microsoft Office programs. You can save any Word, Excel or PowerPoint files directly online without having to go to the cloud folder and open them from there.

The interaction between OneNote and OneDrive works almost perfectly. You can write a text or edit a page on your PC at home. OneNote recognizes these changes in your notebook automatically and syncs them online with the version in the cloud. If you open the notebook later on your laptop, tablet PC or smartphone (and have an internet connection), OneNote applies the changes there as well.

After all, if you store notebooks in the cloud, you do not have to be online all the time. You can edit your notebooks offline when you’re on the go and not on a Wi-Fi network. Once you have an internet connection again, OneNote will apply all the changes with the cloud version of your notebooks. So you do not have to copy files back and forth via a USB flash drive any more.

Register for free:


  • automatic synchronization on all devices such as PC, laptop, tablet computer or smartphone
  • worldwide access to your notebooks via OneNote Online in any Internet browser
  • automatic online backup on (hopefully) secure servers
  • 5 GB of storage space for free (sufficient for most purposes in everyday life). You can book additional storage space for a fee if required. If you already have an Office365 account, you should have 1 TB available.


  • To log in, you need a Microsoft account
  • Servers abroad are often not subject to data protection regulations such as GDPR in Europe.
  • Sensitive data and personal information should not be saved in a cloud.
    In the worst case, strangers can gain access to your notebooks.

Save OneNote notebooks to SharePoint

This variant is less common for private individuals and more popular for medium and larger companies that operate a so-called SharePoint server. SharePoint is a platform for various office services. Explained in a simple way, companies can offer their own storage location in the internal network for their employees. It is similar to the Office365 platform.

For individuals, this type of save location usually does not matter. I will therefore neglect SharePoint in this blog.

Save OneNote notebooks to your hard drive

I guess that you store most files on your computer so far. For example, if you work with Microsoft Word to write letters, you save them in a specific folder on your hard drive. With the desktop version OneNote 2016 you can also create digital notebooks in a folder on your PC or tablet computer.


  • You have full control over your saved files. Only those who can access your computer can open and edit the locally stored notebooks.
  • You do not have to worry about privacy if you store your notebooks only internally on your hard disk.


  • You can only edit your notebooks on this computer and not via the OneNote app. You can neither open them on your smartphone or tablet PC nor share them with friends and acquaintances via the Internet.
  • You have to remember to backup your notebooks regularly. If your hard drive is broken, you might lose all your documents in the worst case – like all other files on your PC.
  • Usually, OneNote creates new notebooks in a default folder under the following hard disk path on drive C: C:/Users/name/Documents/OneNote notebooks

Of course you can also save new notebooks on an external hard drive, a USB flash drive or a Network Attached Storage (NAS). Then the same advantages and disadvantages apply as described above.

Store OneNote notebooks with other cloud providers

Theoretically, you can save your OneNote notebooks with another cloud provider. The best known platforms are Dropbox and Google Drive. Even companies like Telekom or Amazon offer online storage on different terms. Maybe you are already their customer paying for a cloud service.

I strongly advise against this variant! In many Internet forums, users report bad experiences: The synchronization with third-party cloud providers can cause many problems. In the worst case, you risk losing all your data.

Personal recommendation:

My beginners’ blog shall help you discover the possibilities of digital technologies. Despite all the joy, we can not entirely exclude the aspects of data protection and data security. I would like to make you aware for this topic. Please keep in mind: You should never save sensitive data such as credit card numbers or passwords as well as highly personal information on online servers!

After all, OneDrive is probably the best save location for your digital notebooks. Like this, OneNote can fully exploit its power. I also have most of my notebooks stored in the cloud so I can use them on any device. Of course I choose carefully what to save online.

Coming soon: I’ll explain to you in this blog how to create your first OneNote notebook and how to adjust it to your needs.

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