Our Senior Technician, Simon, has sent me this article: Understanding Microsoft Work and Personal Accounts. It’s a confusing topic, exacerbated by a failure to clearly label and differentiate between these different account types. If you need to use the standard Microsoft Office Applications (Word, Excel etc) both at home and at work, which many people do, then you will probably require access to both a Work and a Personal Microsoft Account and they look very similar.
Type of Accounts
The first important point that the article makes is that the Work and Personal Accounts are separate, even if you use the same email address and/or password to log into them. The above article suggests thinking about your Personal and Work Accounts as if they were from two separate companies, because that’s how they’re treated by Microsoft. For example we sell Personal Office 365 Licenses (called Personal for a single User or Home for up to six Users), but we also provide a business version of Office 365 which we manage for our clients remotely through the portal.
The above article lists two ways to determine that the account you’re currently in is a Personal Account: if the login screen of your Windows 10 computer shows your email address, and if your email address is in the form of firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Personal Account, Office 365 (Personal) and Onedrive
Setting up a Personal Microsoft Account is free, and gives you access to the online version of Outlook for your email, but if you want to use the other Office applications like Word and Excel etc then you also need an Office Account. You can still purchase it outright (which is not how Microsoft want to play things these days), or you can buy Office 365, which is an annual subscription service. There are two main packages available in Office 365- what Microsoft calls Personal for a single User or Home for up to six Users. Obviously they’ve had to price Office 365 at substantially cheaper than buying Office outright, and the other benefits are that you can sign in and access it from anywhere online, and that updates are applied automatically.
Purchasing Office allows you to download the Office Applications (including Outlook) onto your computer, and then you can work in either the (limited) online version via your internet browser on any computer or device, or in the full version on your computer. Both of these talk to each other so any changes made in one will appear in the other. They also have automatic saving so you can’t lose any changes and prior versions of your documents are available.
As part of your Personal Account you’ll also get access to Onedrive which is a free online storage facility for your documents and data. You can pay to expand the storage, or if you have an Office 365 Account you will get a whole lot more space as part of that package. Again, you can access Onedrive from any internet connected device and if you have an Office 365 Account you’ll also have the ability to edit your documents in the Office Applications online.
A Work Account, Office 365 (Work), Onedrive (Business) and Sharepoint
Microsoft’s solution for workplaces is to provide one of three main Office 365 packages: Business, Business Premium, or Business Essentials. Each of these provides access to the online versions of the Office Applications, but Business and Business Premium also provide the applications in full to download onto, presumably a work computer. Now they all provide Onedrive as well which the above article mentions as a specific point of confusion since, when you’re in there, you can’t tell whether the Onedrive you’re in is for your Personal or Work Account. Luckily, it’s often more helpful to have your file storage set up in Sharepoint than in Onedrive, especially when you’re trying to run a business with more than a single person. Sharepoint allows you to run what is essentially an online business network. All employees can have access online to the same files which can be edited from anywhere by multiple Users in real time with automatic saving and prior versions available.
Your Microsoft Login Credentials
The reason I’m writing all of this today is that the (understandable) confusion we often come across with our customers leads to a common problem – the loss of the very important Microsoft Account credentials. For security reasons, Microsoft has made it extremely difficult to retrieve lost credentials. When you casually set up your free Outlook Email Account, or when you log into your new computer for the first time, you end up setting up a Microsoft Personal Account and then you set up a pin, or a no password situation, or select to stay logged into your email and promptly forget your password because you never have to use it. Add to this the complication of having both a Personal and Work Account and it’s a recipe for disaster. Imagine your computer suddenly dies and you have to buy a new one – without your Personal Login you could potentially lose the Office Applications you’ve paid good money for, and not be able to access your files stored in Onedrive. Here are my tips for avoiding this calamity:
- When you set up a new Username and Password combo for Microsoft or any other account or application, write down the credentials with an actual pen, in an actual notebook. The only exception is your internet banking password which you should only ever store in your brain
- When you set up a new set of credentials you’ll have the opportunity to set up recovery questions, phone numbers and/ or email addresses, make use of these, they’re gold later
- Spend a little bit of time getting your head around the Microsoft Accounts and services you use. They’re complicated and confusing but it’s a real pain when you mix them up
If you need some help in setting up or figuring out your Microsoft Account situation please feel free to contact us, we can help untangle the knot:
07 827 7119 ~ email@example.com ~ 24B Dick Street, Cambridge