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  • Saving regular documents folders in OneDrive

    Posted on marklang Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support Windows Windows 10 Questions: Win10 Saving regular documents folders in OneDrive

    Topic Resolution: Resolved

    This topic contains 13 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  marklang 4 months, 3 weeks ago.

    • Author
    • #1846871 Reply

      AskWoody Plus

      I just read the newsletter about how far along Microsoft OneDrive has come.   I really want to keep my files on my computer, but I like the idea of having backup copies on the web for backup and possible access from other devices.  As I understand, OneDrive only syncs files in the OneDrive folder under /users/[username]/OneDrive.   It now has a feature that allows one to select to save the standard Documents, Pictures, and Desktop folders, which I would like to do.   I am trying to find out if those folders stay where they are on the local drive, e.g. /users/[username]/documents, and not under the OneDriver folder.    I make regular backups of my computer to an NAS system.   I don’t want those files to move to a different location just because I am now backing them up in OneDrive because it will throw off all my prior backups.   Does anyone know if selecting that option causes OneDrive to sync from the exiting folders, or if it reassigns them on the drive?   I currently have my Documents folder assigned to a separate disk D: from my system disk.  Thanks.

    • #1847124 Reply

      AskWoody MVP

      I moved my OneDrive folder to a different partition on a separate hard drive, and use RoboCopy via a script run through Task Scheduler to copy my Documents and some other folders to my OneDrive folder.  OneDrive syncs those copies, but not the original folders.

      As a result, I have two copies of most of my stuff, as well as backup on OneDrive in the cloud.  I still do my regular drive images.  I have a DIY NAS and use Windows 10 Pro as my OS, so I have the OneDrive folder on my NAS using the same account as my daily driver desktop, which gives me an additional copy of my stuff.

      Create a fresh drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!
      "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Savvy?"—Jack Sparrow
      "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns
      "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware

    • #1847304 Reply

      AskWoody Plus

      Does anyone know if selecting that option causes OneDrive to sync from the exiting folders, or if it reassigns them on the drive?

      They do get moved:

      Note: It’s worth mentioning that performing the steps below will actually move the above-mentioned folders into the OneDrive folder. If you want them to remain in the current locations, then do not follow the steps below.
      Automatically Backup Important Windows Folders with OneDrive

      I currently have my Documents folder assigned to a separate disk D: from my system disk.

      OneDrive and protected folders have to be on the same volume:

      Fix problems with folder backup
      Here are a list of errors you might see when you set up folder backup and how to resolve them:

      The folder is on a different volume than OneDrive: OneDrive is set up to sync on a different volume than the folder selected for protection. A couple of common ways this can happen are 1) if you set up your PC such that OneDrive is on the D: drive, but the Documents folder is on the C: drive, or 2) if you have your folders pointed to a network share (this would most likely happen at school or work). To resolve this issue, set up OneDrive on the same volume as the folder you’re trying to protect. In OneDrive settings, click Unlink this PC. After unlinking, sign in again and choose the root folder location to be on the same volume as the folder you want to sync. You can also manually move the folder you want to sync to the same volume as OneDrive by right-clicking the folder, selecting the location tab, and choosing a location that’s on the same volume as OneDrive.
      Back up your Documents, Pictures, and Desktop folders with OneDrive

      Knuckle dragger Cannon fodder Chump Daft glutton Idiot Crazy/Ignorant Toxic drinker Blockhead Unwashed mass Seeker/Sucker "Ancient/Obsolete" (Group ASAP) Win10 v.1909

    • #1847346 Reply

      AskWoody Lounger

      Well. You could change the base folder that OneDrive syncs from, too.

      Just, changing it to /users/{$username} is likely to break in “interesting” ways, due to all kinds of things going under AppData… open files and even OneDrive’s own cache I think…

      Might be able to tweak it to make that work but I wouldn’t count on it, and at a minimum it’s lots of extra complexity.

    • #1847917 Reply

      AskWoody Plus

      Thanks for the input.   Are you sure the files get moved?   Everything I can find from Microsoft implies that the three library folders are backed up directly if selected.   I set up my OneDrive to my data disk D: based on the information supplied that the library files have to be on the same drive.  I already have my standard Documents and Pictures folders stored there.

      I have approx 35,000 files in my documents folder right now.   I really don’t want them to move as I back them up with Retrospect every day.   If they move, I will have to reconfigure Retrospect, and it will start over again backing them all up the first time.  I also want to keep the local location for ease of use (not in the OneDrive folder).

      • #1847970 Reply

        AskWoody Plus

        Thanks for the input. Are you sure the files get moved? Everything I can find from Microsoft implies that the three library folders are backed up directly if selected.

        I agree it’s confusing, but everything I can find from Microsoft says the three folders and contents get moved:

        Migrate Your Files to OneDrive Easily with Known Folder Move

        Redirect and move Windows known folders to OneDrive

        And that’s certainly what happened on my single computer where I used this feature ten months ago.

        Knuckle dragger Cannon fodder Chump Daft glutton Idiot Crazy/Ignorant Toxic drinker Blockhead Unwashed mass Seeker/Sucker "Ancient/Obsolete" (Group ASAP) Win10 v.1909

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    • #1847977 Reply

      AskWoody Plus

      Thanks again.  The references you provided, which I had not found, are pretty clear that it is simply a way to move those folders under OneDrive.   The fact that is what happened to you makes it very clear.   That is very disappointing.   This is a real limitation in my mind.    I suppose they have to be on the same drive as OneDrive because the software may effect the move by changing the directory links rather physically copying files.

      I appreciate knowing before having to try to see what will happen.

    • #1848536 Reply

      AskWoody Lounger

      If I were in your shoes I would set up Onedrive on my D:, and re-direct the documents etc folders to within that.  The linked articles are all about performing the move using Group Policies, and I don’t think this is relevant to your situation or necessary – you are in control.  I know you are concerned this will disrupt your existing Retrospect backups, but what’s the harm in letting that run (once edited to read from the new location) whilst you enjoy a nice cup of Earl Grey, and tidy up the NAS leftovers when its finished?


    • #1848677 Reply

      AskWoody Lounger

      Only just noticed this is marked ‘resolved’!  However, another solution would be to use a link, as per here:  (where you have also asked about the issue)


    • #1848724 Reply

      AskWoody Plus

      I marked resolved because my question about moving the library folders was answered.  It still does not provide the functionality I really want.   The reference to symbolic links suggests that it would work, but I am not sure I understand that and whether it might cause any issues later.   As I have been thinking about it, I will probably just give in and move the folders under OneDrive.   At present, my Documents and Pictures are located on my data drive at D:/[username]/documents and D:/[username]/pictures.   I will likely just unlink OneDrive, rename the [username] top level folder on D: to OneDrive, and assign that folder to OneDrive.  I will need to deal with Retrospect.   I do regular incremental file backups with Retrospect.   I may just start a new Backup Set.   It is useful to do that from time to time with Retrospect so it is not keeping up with so many prior changes.

    • #1848738 Reply

      AskWoody Lounger

      It makes sense to me to start another backup set (I am not familiar with Retrospect) – that way it will be obvious that you are looking at files from before or after OneDrive was running.  Regarding symbolic links, I don’t really understand them, I just follow the instructions.  For example, I move the 700MB of MSOCache files from my SSD C: drive to an HDD with space, and create a link so Office can still find them, this way keeping the size of my disk images down.  Good luck.

    • #1848929 Reply

      AskWoody Plus

      I have been doing more research.   Apparently, the symbolic link is a feature of the more recent NTFS file systems.  Essentially, it can create a subfolder (really a special link) in the OneDrive folder that refers all access requests to the original folder.   That way, I can have my Documents folder, for example, where it is located now.   A new folder with the same name (if I make it that way) would appear under the OneDrive folder.   I can access, save to, delete, or any other file action to either of those folders, and the results would physically take place in the original folder but also appear exactly the same in the new linked folder.  (There is only one real set of data in the original folder.)  This would allow me to backup any folders on my machine (some links can even be to external devices) through OneDrive because OneDrive would “see” any of those folders linked to it as if the original folder were within OneDrive.   This clearly is more complicated than having an actual folder.   It could be confusing if you forget what you did because there would be two apparently identical folders on the same computer file system.

      Having discovered that, I think I will just do things the more straightforward way by putting my real Documents and Pictures folders (and any others I want) under the OneDrive folder assigned to my data drive D:.   I can do this easily by renaming the top folder on D:, now [username], to OneDrive, and making that the OneDrive folder.  As you suggested, this would reflect the status of the computer after I started using OneDrive, with no confusion.   Retrospect has pretty powerful features for file backup (including deduplication), so it could probably continue the past incremental backups in the same way as before if I edit the hard locations of the folders it is backing up in the backup macros.   However, I think I will just use this as an opportunity to start a new Backup Set, again reflecting the computer after I started using OneDrive.   Microsoft is clearly wanting people to move in this direction, so I should have no worries about any problems or confusion in the future.   I was reluctant to make the change, but I see no strong reason to resist.  It will take me a while to make all those changes, but that is a one-time thing.

      Thanks for the discussion.   This has been interesting and enlightening.


      • #1849523 Reply

        AskWoody Lounger

        … hm, I’d really think OneDrive following a symbolic link and then proceeding to read files from another physical device (or a network share even?)… is most likely unintended behavior, might be an outright bug. Also pretty much the opposite of how symbolic links are typically handled on other platforms.

        As such depending on that might not be good in the long term.

        Does OneDrive follow directory junctions? Those should be safer as they’re restricted to local only…

        • This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by  mn--.
    • #1849944 Reply

      AskWoody Plus

      The TenForums tutorial on how to sync any folder in OneDrive actually recommends creating a junction.  As I understand it, when something accesses the linked folder through a junction, this is processed by the host file system, which would be the original folder.   This would actually do everything I want because it can link to any folder on any device on the same computer.   It is more limited, but likely safer.   Since it is processed by the host file system, I assume that OneDrive would work OK using a junction type of link.

      It is also suggested that one could create a full symbolic link instead.   This could point to an external device.   As I understand, when something accesses a folder linked with a full symbolic link, the action is processed by the requesting software, which would be OneDrive in this case.   Presumably, since OneDrive is using the same file system utilities within Windows, it would work.   However, OneDrive does so much regarding syncing and sharing that I would hesitate to try this.

      As I noted, I decided to just assign my OneDrive folder as the top level folder on my data drive for my Documents and Pictures folders, e.g. D:/OneDrive/Documents.  They were already on the data drive under a top level folder [username], so I just unlinked OneDrive, renamed the top level folder to OneDrive, and then reconnected OneDrive pointing to that folder.   I just did that.  It was confusing at first as it gave me a message that the folder already contained files and would not set that location.  I found that I could just say accept this location, and it worked.   I now have both my Documents and Pictures folders showing under OneDrive, and everything in the folders is showing the indication that they are now syncing.   This will take a while as I have a lot of files.   Interestingly, Windows redirected the locations of my Documents and Pictures folders to the new location automatically, without any action on my part.

      How I have to set up a new Backup Set and macros for my incremental folder backups with Retrospect.

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