Move Your Desktop to the Cloud

So I’ve been living in the cloud (digitally speaking) for over a decade now but I’m still saving a lot of things locally to my desktop.

These are mostly things I’m working on or haven’t decided where to put. Most of the time this works well for me and when I’m ready to work on those files elsewhere I migrate them to OneDrive.

It works well except for when it doesn’t. More often than I’d like to admit, I find myself wanting to work on a file while away from my desk and wishing I hadn’t left that file on my office computer’s desktop.

This doesn’t have to happen anymore thanks to a relatively new OneDrive feature called Folder Protection.

You can now enable OneDrive to automatically sync your desktop (and any files or folders you add to it) to OneDrive.

Follow the steps below to set-up OneDrive so that it will also sync files on your desktop or in the local photos and documents folders and avoid that regret next time you’re at home and want to work on that file on the desktop of your classroom or office computer.

Please note, that you will need to have downloaded the latest OneDrive client and be using a computer that is running Windows 10. Also, OneNote files (.one, .onepkg, .onetoc, .onetoc2) and Outlook archives (.pst) that are stored on your desktop won’t sync (and in fact, OneDrive Folder Protection won’t let you sync your desktop until those files have been moved.)


Set up folder protection

  1. If you’re prompted to protect your important folders (Desktop, Documents, and Pictures), click the prompt to start the folder protection wizard.If you didn’t see the prompt or you already closed the wizard, select the white or blue cloud icon in the Windows notification area, and then select More > Settings > Auto Save > Update folders.
  2. In the Set up protection of important folders dialog box, make sure the folders that you want to protect are selected.Screenshot of the Set up protection of important folders dialog box in OneDrive
  3. Select Start protection.
  4. You can close the dialog box while your files sync to OneDrive. Or, to watch your files sync, select View upload progress. If you already closed the dialog box, select the white or blue cloud in the notification area to open the OneDrive activity center.

When the files finish syncing to OneDrive, they’re protected and you can access them from anywhere in Documents, Desktop, or Pictures. When you protect your Desktop folder, the items on your desktop roam with you to your other PC desktops where you’re running OneDrive.

You can protect up to 5 GB of files in OneDrive for free, or up to 1 TB with an Office 365 subscription.

Change folder protection settings

If want to stop protecting or start protecting an important folder in OneDrive, you can update your folders in OneDrive Settings.

Important: When you stop protecting a folder, the files that were already protected by OneDrive stay in OneDrive. If you no longer want those files in OneDrive, you’ll need to move them to a local folder on your PC yourself. Any new files you add to that folder on your PC won’t be protected by OneDrive.

  1. Open OneDrive Settings (select the white or blue cloud icon in your notification area, and then select More > Settings.)Screenshot of getting to OneDrive Settings
  2. In Settings, select Auto Save > Update folders.
  3. To stop protecting a folder, select Stop protecting and then confirm that you want to stop protection in the Turn off protection dialog box.

    Screenshot of when you stop protecting folders in OneDrive

  4. To start protecting a folder, select any folder that doesn’t say Files protected, and then select Start protection.

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