There might soon be an option to download and backup your OneNote notebooks from the cloud without using any tricks. The reason is an upcoming EU law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Creating local backups of notebooks that are stored on OneDrive or OneDrive for Business requires the Office version of OneNote 2016 or some secrets tricks. This might change very soon. As Nick Andre, a former OneNote developer, recently hinted at Reddit, Microsoft is considering a download option. Not because it’s on the development agenda, but because of the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This is a new European Union law, becoming effective in a few weeks.
For example, article 20 of this regulation is about everyone’s access to his data. It says: “A person is to be able to transfer personal data from one electronic processing system to and into another, without being prevented from doing so by the data controller”. And further: “In addition, the data must be provided by the controller in a structured and commonly used a standard electronic format”. So far this is prevented by OneNotes proprietary format and blocking of downloading notebooks from Microsofts cloud services.
Nick Andre also mentions: Downloading OneNote data is one thing; for backups (which is actually what that Reddit thread is about) such an option would only make sense if there was also an upload feature. His original quote:
“In order to be GDPR compliant there will be a data download option though it’s not clear what form that will take. To make that useful as a backup strategy there would need to be reupload in some form.”
(note that he said “there will be a download option”, not “there should be”.
So if Microsoft sees themselves forced to implement an easy and transparent download option there is not much time left. The GDPR will become effective on May 25, 2018.
Note: Of course, such a download function would not allow you keep and edit notebooks locally (as only OneNote 2016 from MS Office for Windows does allow you). This is just about an archive or backup copy.