OneDrive Storage

If you use OneDrive and have it set up to synchronise with your computer, you will have noticed that all your OneDrive folders and files display an icon to indicate if or when they have been synchronised.

OneDrive icons for folders and files.

A green tick indicates that a folder or file has been synchronised on both your computer and in the cloud while a blue cloud icon indicates that the folder or file exists in the cloud but has not yet been downloaded to your computer.

Over time, more and more folders and files will tend to be synchronised to your computer. In turn, this means that more of your OneDrive storage (up to 1Tb in the paid plans) will be duplicated on your computer. This is fine when your computer has a hard drive that is larger than 1Tb but that might not always be the case. As more and more of your hard drive gets filled up with OneDrive folders and files, what can you do to stop your computer’s space being used up completely?

OneDrive Files on Demand

Well, OneDrive’s “Files on Demand” functionality is here to help. This is a setting in OneDrive which only downloads folders and files to your computer when you are working on them. You can also use Files on Demand to signify when you no longer want a copy of a folder or file on your local computer but want to keep it in OneDrive in the cloud to save space on your hard drive.

Files on Demand Setup

To make sure that the Files on Demand functionality is being used, follow these steps.

Click on the OneDrive icon (personal or business version) that is visible in the bottom right-hand corner of your Windows screen.

OneDrive system tray icon.

This will display the OneDrive software window. In this window, click on the settings icon.

Settings icon in OneDrive software window.

In the drop-down menu that appears, click on the “Settings” line.

Settings line highlighted in OneDrive software window.

This will open the OneDrive settings window. In this window, click on the “Settings” tab.

Settings tab highlighted in the OneDrive settings window.

This will display all the general settings for OneDrive. Click the checkbox in the “Files on Demand” section to signify that the functionality is turned on and then click on the “OK’ button to close the window.

Files  on demand settings in the OneDrive settings window.

Using Files on Demand

With the functionality turned on, you can now decide which folders and files to store on your computer from OneDrive.

If you want to save space by removing the local copy of a folder or file from your computer, right mouse click the folder or file and from the drop-down menu that appears, click on the line “Free up space”.

The "Free up space" option for a file in Windows explorer.

The local copy of the folder or file will be removed from your computer but the folder/file will remain in OneDrive in the cloud. The icon for the folder/file will change to a blue cloud icon to indicate that it is still available but only when you decide to download and work on it.

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