Do OneDrive files stay on my computer?

Answered by Jeremy Urbaniak

When it comes to OneDrive, the answer to whether your files stay on your computer is not a simple yes or no. It actually depends on a few factors such as the version of Windows you are using and your OneDrive settings. Let’s dive into the details.

In Windows 10, starting with the Fall Creators Update, OneDrive introduced a feature called Files On-Demand. This feature allows you to see all your files in File Explorer, whether they are stored locally on your PC or in the cloud. It’s like having all your files at your fingertips, even if they are not taking up space on your hard drive.

With Files On-Demand, you can choose to have certain files or folders always available locally on your computer, or you can choose to have them only available online. This is particularly handy if you have limited storage space on your PC and want to save space by keeping some files in the cloud.

To make a file or folder available offline, you can simply right-click on it in File Explorer and select “Always keep on this device.” This will download the file to your PC, making it accessible even when you don’t have an internet connection. On the other hand, if you want to free up space on your PC, you can right-click on a file or folder and select “Free up space.” This will remove the local copy of the file or folder, but it will still be available online.

It’s worth noting that when you choose to make a file or folder available offline, it will be stored on your local PC and will take up space on your hard drive. However, if you choose to keep it only online, it will not occupy any space on your computer, but you’ll need an internet connection to access it.

Now, let’s talk about earlier versions of Windows, such as Windows 7 and Windows 8. In these versions, OneDrive worked differently. By default, when you saved files to your OneDrive folder, they were synchronized with the cloud and also stored locally on your PC. This meant that you had a local copy of your files, allowing you to access them even without an internet connection.

However, in Windows 10, with the introduction of Files On-Demand, the default behavior changed. By default, Files On-Demand is turned on, which means that your files are not automatically downloaded to your PC when you save them to your OneDrive folder. Instead, they are stored in the cloud and only downloaded when you open or access them.

Of course, you can still choose to make files or folders available offline in Windows 10, as mentioned earlier. This gives you the flexibility to decide which files you want to have locally on your PC and which ones you prefer to keep only in the cloud.

To sum it up, the location of your OneDrive files depends on your Windows version and OneDrive settings. In Windows 10, with Files On-Demand enabled, your files are primarily stored in the cloud, and you can choose which files to keep locally on your PC. In earlier versions of Windows, the default behavior is to synchronize your files with the cloud and store them locally on your computer.

I hope this explanation clarifies how OneDrive handles the storage of your files. Remember, it’s always a good idea to check your OneDrive settings and familiarize yourself with the options available to customize your file storage preferences.