OneDrive's Protect your important files feature rolls out
Microsoft is in the process of rolling out an update to the company's OneDrive application for Windows 10 that unlocks the Protect your important files feature in the client for home users.
The feature has been available since June 2018 for Business users and is now being rolled out to all other users of OneDrive provided that they use the OneDrive client on Windows 10 (may also be available on previous Windows versions).
OneDrive Protect your important files
Protect your important files is a simple feature that gives OneDrive users options to automatically sync files on the Desktop and in the Pictures and Documents folders with OneDrive.
OneDrive up until now synced only the files and folders that users put into the OneDrive folder on systems that ran the software or using the web interface of the service.
The new functionality extends the reach of OneDrive by giving users options to sync these three folders with the cloud and their account automatically.
The usefulness of the feature depends on use of at least one of the three folders on the system.
Protect your important files is not enabled by default. Windows 10 users who run the latest version of the OneDrive application can enable it in the following way:
- Open the OneDrive Settings with a left-click on the OneDrive icon in the system tray, and selection of More > Settings from the interface.
- Switch to the Auto Save tab in the Settings window.
- Select "Update Folders" under Protect your important files.
- Select at least one of the listed folders in the new window that is displayed and activate "start protection" afterward. OneDrive displays the size of each folder and the available space on OneDrive.
Reopen the configuration window to start or stop the syncing for each of the supported folders individually.
Most file types get synced but Microsoft notes that some won't be synced automatically even if they are placed in one of the supported locations.
Outlook database files (.pst) and OneNote files that aren't already stored in OneDrive (.one, .onepkg, .onetoc, .onetoc2).
Other limitations that users need to be aware of:
- A file can have a maximum size of 20 Gigabytes.
- File names may not start with a space or include the following characters: \ : / * ? < > " |
- The file path needs to have fewer than 520 characters on Windows 10 and fewer than 260 characters on Windows 7.
- OneDrive needs to be set up on the same volume as the folders.
- Junction point and symbolic links are ignored.
Auto Save displays two other options that may be of interest to OneDrive users. The first saves photos and videos automatically to OneDrive when smartphones, digital cameras and other devices with media are connected to the Windows PC.
The second saves any captured screenshot to OneDrive automatically. Both features are disabled by default and can be enabled under Auto Save in the OneDrive settings.
Sync other folders with OneDrive?
You can only sync the three mentioned folders that are outside of the OneDrive folder with OneDrive using the new feature. That's very limiting and is of little use to you if you store important files elsewhere.
While you could move these files inside the OneDrive structure to have them synced with online storage and other devices automatically, it is not something that is always possible.
The only option right now to work around the issue is to use symbolic links for that. You can use a program like Linkmaker for that but any other program that supports symbolic links should do as well.
The synchronization of files that reside on the desktop or in the Pictures or Documents folder is a welcome addition to OneDrive. OneDrive users can enable the functionality to sync files placed in these folders automatically with OneDrive to have them backed up regularly.
It functions as a backup of sorts then and functionality like OneDrive's version history may prove useful in the context as well.
I wish Microsoft would have added an option to add custom folders to OneDrive's sync list as the current functionality leaves users who don't use these three folders or only some of them out in the rain.
While there are workarounds, it would be great if Microsoft would implement the missing functionality at a later point in time.
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