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  • Writer's pictureTara Grey

What Is OneDrive and How to Stop It From Taking Over Your Computer?

Some programs you enable on a computer claim to be “helpful” but can actually be just the opposite. They’ll automate their setup, and you don’t really know what’s going on until you run into a problem.

For example, you may think your photos and documents are being saved on your Windows computer’s hard drive, because that’s what it looks like when you open file explorer (the yellow folder icon on the bottom task bar of your screen). But in actuality, they’re being redirected to the cloud. This is a big problem with the program OneDrive.

OneDrive is a cloud file storage and sharing application from Microsoft. It comes free for up to 5GB of storage and is also bundled if you subscribe to Microsoft 365 (which includes Word, Excel, etc.).

If you don’t have help understanding this feature, it can leave you with a lot of frustration trying to figure out where your files are actually located.

What Does OneDrive Do?

OneDrive stores files in the cloud, which basically means they’re stored on a server in a large data center and you can access them via the internet when signed into your Microsoft account.

What this does is allow you to access those files from any device. For example, if you are signed into your OneDrive account on your laptop and signed in on your smartphone, you can access all your stored files on both devices.

OneDrive takes a snapshot of your Documents folder setup, so it basically is cloning all your folders and files and creating that same setup in the cloud storage environment.

There are both some positives and negatives when it comes to the OneDrive cloud storage tool.

What’s Good About OneDrive?

  • It makes it easy to set up a new computer and have access to your files.

  • It saves a copy of your files in the cloud as a backup.

  • You can get to your files from any device.

  • You can share photos, videos, and other files with others by sending them a link instead of trying to email a big file.

  • It can save storage space on your computer.

What’s Bad About OneDrive?

  • Users can accidentally set it up when getting a new Windows 10 computer without realizing it.

  • It can take over their files, storing them in the cloud instead of on their computer.

  • You can get warning messages while working in a document if there is no internet connection and OneDrive can’t sync.

  • It’s confusing to know which files are ACTUALLY saved on your computer and which ones showing on your computer are actually saved in OneDrive.

Getting Your Files Back So They’re Stored On Your Computer

OneDrive can be very confusing and is a good example of an app trying to help too much. It’s syncing options can mean that files you think are safely stored on your computer, are suddenly gone when you’re not connected to the internet.

Here are some tips on how to know which files are being stored on your hard drive, how to turn off OneDrive, and how to use OneDrive while still keeping a copy of everything on your computer.

What The Checkmarks Mean

When OneDrive is enabled, you’ll start to see icons to the left of the file and folder name of all your documents.

Here is what each of those means:

  • Dark Green Circle with Checkmark: This file is important and should always be saved on this computer. (You can right-click a file or folder and choose “Always keep on this device” to get that dark green checkmark.)

  • Blue Cloud Icon: This file is NOT actually on my computer, it is saved in OneDrive, and I am only able to access it because I’m connected to the internet.

  • Light Green Circle with Checkmark: When you open a Blue Cloud icon document it then downloads to your PC and is now stored on your hard drive and is locally available. This means you can open it even when you don’t have an internet connection.

If you like OneDrive, but still want all your files on your computer, you can set them all as the Dark Green Checkmark designating you want the file to stay on your computer. You would just go to a main file folder like Documents (or another file or folder), right click and choose “Always keep on this device.”

Pause Syncing and Unlink One Drive

Another way to ensure your files stay on your computer, but still take advantage of OneDrive when you want to is to pause the syncing function.

Pause synching:

1. Click the cloud icon in your Windows Taskbar.

2. Click Help & Settings.

3. Click the arrow under Pause syncing and choose from 2, 8, or 24 hours.

Disable OneDrive on Your Computer

If you want to completely disable OneDrive, so it can’t grab your files at all and send them to the cloud, you can do the following.

Disable OneDrive:

1. Click the cloud icon in your Windows Taskbar.

2. Click Help & Settings.

3. Click Settings to bring up the Settings window.

4. Click the Account Tab

5. Click Unlink this PC

Get OneDrive Under Control with Help from CompuTara

There are several “helpful” apps that might start up when you set up a new computer that you never expected to have, including free antivirus software trials. I can help you sort through those and put you back in control of your PC.

Schedule your tutoring session today! Call me at: 862-368-4893 or Email me here.


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