Windows 11 OneDrive: Safeguarding Your Files in the Cloud

Update: Windows 11 was officially released on October 5, 2021.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with and have been using Microsoft OneDrive for some time. In essence, OneDrive is a well-known cloud storage solution, similar to Google Drive and Dropbox. But it is also much more than that – it’s a data backup service that creates copies of your files and folders and syncs them between your devices and the cloud.

With OneDrive on Windows 11, you can protect your important documents and gain access to them anytime, anywhere!

Windows 11: Embracing OneDrive for Backup

As many of us know, Windows 10 features two built-in local backup services: File History and Backup and Restore. You can access them through the Windows Settings menu by going to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Backup. However, in Windows 11, these options have been removed from the Settings menu. You can still access them via the Control Panel, though.

Windows 11 has replaced the backup feature in Settings with OneDrive synchronization.

Windows 11 OneDrive vs Windows 10 OneDrive

Now, you may be wondering if there are any differences between OneDrive on Windows 11 and OneDrive on Windows 10. In terms of features, there are no significant differences. The only real change is that Windows 11 has a dedicated entrance for OneDrive in the Settings menu.

How to Use OneDrive in Windows 11 Settings

Let’s dive into how you can leverage the OneDrive utility through the Settings menu in Windows 11.

  1. Click on the Windows Start icon and select the gear icon (Settings). This will open the Settings window.

  2. In the default System tab, scroll down and find the Storage option. Click on it.

select Storage option in Windows 11 system settings

  1. In the Storage page, expand the Advanced storage settings and choose Backup options from the drop-down menu.

choose backup options in Windows 11 system storage settings page

  1. You will be taken to the Windows backup page. Alternatively, you can access it through Settings > Accounts > Windows backup.

choose Windows backup in Windows 11 account settings

  1. On the Windows backup page, click on Manage sync settings within the OneDrive folder syncing option. You can select the folders you want to protect and access across your devices.

click manage sync settings in Windows 11 backup settings

  1. A new window will appear, allowing you to manage folder backup in OneDrive for Windows 11. Choose the folders you want to back up, such as Desktop, Documents, and Pictures. Once selected, click the Start backup button to begin syncing the folders to your OneDrive storage.

Windows 11 OneDrive manage folder backup

As you can see, you have the flexibility to select the folders that matter most to you. The selected folders will be synced in OneDrive, ensuring that new and existing files are backed up and accessible on all your devices, even if you lose your PC.

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How to Set up OneDrive for Windows 11

If you upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11, your OneDrive will still be available. If you perform a clean install of Windows 11 using the official ISO, OneDrive will be installed along with the operating system.

Now, let’s look at how you can personalize your OneDrive settings in Windows 11.

  1. Click on the OneDrive icon (cloud icon) on the right side of the taskbar. Sign in to your OneDrive account if you haven’t already. If you can’t find the icon on the taskbar, you can use the search function by clicking on the magnifier icon.

  2. Open OneDrive by clicking on it in the taskbar, select Help & Settings, and choose Settings in the new popup.

OneDrive in taskbar

  1. In the Microsoft OneDrive window that appears, you can access various options under the Account tab. Here, you can add another account, purchase additional OneDrive cloud storage, and adjust privacy settings.

Microsoft OneDrive

You can also unlink your PC from your OneDrive account, but keep in mind that this will stop your files from syncing. Locally stored files will remain on the device, but online-only files will be removed.

unlink OneDrive account from this PC

Furthermore, you can choose which folders should be visible on your local device by clicking on the Choose folders button under the Account tab.

  1. Select the folders or files you want to have available in your local OneDrive folder. These items will be accessible on-demand, while unselected folders will be hidden from File Explorer.

choose folders available in local OneDrive folder

  1. Let’s move to the Settings tab. Here, you can customize the general and notification settings for your OneDrive service.

General settings:

  • Start OneDrive automatically when I sign in to Windows.
  • Automatically pause sync when this device is on a metered network.

Notification settings:

  • Notify me when others share or edit my shared items.
  • Notify me when a large number of files are deleted in the cloud.
  • Notify me before many files that I deleted on my PC are removed from the cloud.
  • Notify me when sync pauses automatically.
  • Notify me when OneDrive suggests a new collection of photos and videos.

Files On-Demand:

This option applies specifically to your local OneDrive folder. It allows you to view a list of files and folders saved in the cloud, but they are not stored locally. Only when you open and use them will they be downloaded from the cloud.

OneDrive settings tab

  1. Next, go to the Backup tab. Here, you can choose whether to back up your local Desktop, Documents, or Pictures folders to OneDrive. You can also decide whether to automatically save photos, videos, and screenshots to OneDrive when you connect a camera or other devices to your PC.
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OneDrive Backup tab

  1. Move on to the Network tab. Here, you can manage the upload and download rates of your network connection. You can choose to either not limit the speed or restrict the bandwidth to a specific KB/s value.

OneDrive network tab

  1. Now, let’s take a look at the Office tab. Here, you can set up real-time collaboration on Office files by syncing them with Office applications. This means you can work on the same documents with others simultaneously.

OneDrive office tab

Additionally, you can choose how to handle sync conflicts. You can manually choose to merge changes, keep both copies, or automatically keep both copies by renaming the copy on this computer.

  1. Finally, we have the About tab. Here, you can find more online help resources provided by Microsoft for OneDrive on Windows 11. You can also learn about the terms of use, privacy and cookies policies, third-party notices, and your OneDrive device ID.

OneDrive About tab

Syncing Between Local Locations or Cloud Accounts

As you can see, OneDrive in Windows 11 allows you to sync files between your local storage and the cloud. But what if you need to sync files directly between two local locations or two cloud accounts?

Syncing Files Between Two Local Locations:

You can still rely on OneDrive, but the process becomes a bit more complex. You will need to utilize OneDrive as a transit to achieve this synchronization. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Set up a sync between one local location and OneDrive. This will ensure that files in the first local account are synced to the cloud.

  2. Set up another sync between OneDrive and the second local location. This will sync the files from OneDrive to the second local location.

  3. As a result, the files from the first local location will be transferred to the second local location, utilizing OneDrive as the intermediary.

  4. Similarly, files from the second local account will be synced to the first local account using OneDrive.

Syncing Files Between Two Cloud Accounts:

The process of syncing files between two cloud drives is similar to that of syncing files between two local locations. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Establish a sync between one cloud account and a local OneDrive folder.

  2. Create another sync between the local OneDrive folder and another OneDrive account.

  3. As a result, the files in both OneDrive accounts will be synced to each other, utilizing the local OneDrive folder as the transit point.

Directly Syncing from Local to Local:

While Windows 11 OneDrive enables you to sync files between local locations, it can be challenging and requires both syncs to work properly. Additionally, the files in both locations and the cloud must always remain the same. If you don’t have a premium OneDrive subscription, the 5GB of free cloud storage will quickly be used up.

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Moreover, OneDrive can only sync files in the Desktop, Documents, Pictures, and OneDrive folders. If you wish to sync files from other locations, you will need to move them to the OneDrive folder in advance.

If your goal is to create an extra copy of your important files to protect against data loss or damage, it is recommended to save the backup locally. Local storage is considered safer than online cloud storage, especially if you have ample local space or external storage devices.

But what if you want to automatically sync a large number of files to a local location instead of manually copying and pasting each time? That’s where third-party software such as MiniTool ShadowMaker comes in handy.

  1. Download, install, and launch MiniTool ShadowMaker on your computer.

  2. If prompted to purchase the software, simply click the “Keep Trial” button in the upper right corner to continue enjoying free features.

  3. Once you’re in the main interface, go to the Sync tab. Select the files or folders you want to protect in the Source module, and choose a local location as the destination in the Destination module.

MiniTool ShadowMaker sync tab

  1. Click the Schedule button in the bottom left corner. A small window will appear, allowing you to set the sync schedule. Choose an appropriate schedule (daily, weekly, monthly, or based on an event) and enable the corresponding settings.

MiniTool ShadowMaker sync schedule

  1. Click the Options button in the lower right corner to customize how the synchronization process occurs. You can compare files based on time, size, or content. Comparing content may take longer than the other parameters.

MiniTool ShadowMaker sync options

Additionally, you can filter certain files from syncing, such as hibernation files, page files, and recycle bin files.

MiniTool ShadowMaker exclude files from syncing

Apart from file syncing, MiniTool ShadowMaker can also back up files, partitions, system settings, and even entire hard drives to local, external, or network locations.

Here’s a comparison table showcasing the differences between MiniTool ShadowMaker and OneDrive in terms of file syncing capabilities:

MiniTool ShadowMaker OneDrive
Sync Source: All files on PC or connected devices.
Source Files Filter: Yes
Sync Destination: Local
Sync Schedule: Daily, weekly, monthly, or based on events.
Sync Method: One-way sync
Sync Source: Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders.
Source Files Filter: No
Sync Destination: Local or cloud.
Sync Schedule: Real-time.
Sync Method: Two-way sync

Wrapping Things Up

Microsoft Windows 11 OneDrive has replaced File History and Backup & Restore in the Settings menu. You can make use of it to easily sync your local files with cloud storage or vice versa. However, if you want to create automatic local backups of your vital files, you can rely on third-party software like MiniTool ShadowMaker.

Also, check out these related articles:

  • [Review] How to Create Windows 11 Storage Spaces/Storage Pool?
  • Where to Get Windows 11 CD Key & How to Activate Win11 with It?
  • What to Do If You Encounter Fake Windows 11 Downloader/Installer?

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