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  • Writer's pictureNorm McLaughlin

Setting Up a Backup to OneDrive

Updated: Sep 10, 2023

microsoft onedrive backup
Using Microsoft OneDrive is one of the most convenient ways to back up your files

Microsoft OneDrive is one of a number of cloud storage options which are available to Windows PC users. OneDrive comes as standard with any Microsoft account and this makes it the most convenient cloud storage option since Microsoft now requires Windows 10 users to log in with a Microsoft account. There are ways around this but, for many people, signing in to their computer with a Microsoft account is now the standard approach.

Free Microsoft accounts come with 5 GB of OneDrive storage, and paid Microsoft 365 plans include 1 TB for each user. Regardless of the Microsoft account or username you’ve used to log in to a Windows 10 computer, you can sign in to OneDrive with any Microsoft account. In fact, you can sign in to multiple OneDrive accounts on your computer. When you do this, you will see each account displayed separately in File Explorer.

Whilst OneDrive can be used to store and back up whichever files and folders you like, one of its most useful applications is to store your library folders on OneDrive. The library folders are your Desktop, Documents and Pictures folders. This has the obvious benefit that any files and folders stored in these directories are automatically being backed up using OneDrive. This effectively means that, whilst your files and folders are located on your computer, they are also duplicated on another computer (server) elsewhere by means of your internet connection.

In the event that your computer has a meltdown such as a hard drive failure, the files and folders stored on OneDrive continue to be accessible to you via the Cloud. They can be accessed directly on the internet by logging in at or by using the OneDrive app on another computer, or on another device such as a phone, Android tablet or iPad. Not only that, but older versions of files can be retrieved. This can be a useful feature when you want to revert to a previous version of a file.

When signing in to OneDrive for the first time on a Windows computer, you’ll be prompted to back up your library folders to OneDrive during the sign-in process. If however your OneDrive has already been set up without backing up/synchronising your library folders to the Cloud, and you would now like to begin doing so, it is possible to do this. There are a a couple of ways in which you can do so.

Set Up OneDrive Backup Using File Explorer

Follow these steps to set up the backup of your library folders using File Explorer.

1. In the navigation pane of File Explorer, click the arrow beside your OneDrive to expand the list of folders in OneDrive.

2. If you don’t already see the names of your library folders listed in OneDrive, you need to create these. To do this, right-click on your OneDrive in the navigation pane, select New > and then Folder. Firstly create a folder called Desktop, then repeat to create Documents and Pictures. Note that you can give these folders any names you like in OneDrive.

3. In the File Explorer navigation pane once again, click the arrow beside This PC to open the list of library folders. You should see a list containing 3D Objects, Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures and Videos and more.

4. Start by right-clicking on Desktop, then select Properties and click on the Location tab.

5. You’ll see the current location of your Desktop folder, which typically would have been under the name of your user account in Users. Click the Move… button.

6. In the resulting window you can navigate to select the Desktop folder in your OneDrive (or whatever name you gave it) and then click the Select folder button.

7. You’ll be asked if you want to move all of the folders from the old location to the new location and you should select Yes.

8. Repeat steps 4-7 to move your Documents and Pictures folders to OneDrive.

Set Up OneDrive Backup Using the Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Follow these steps to set up the backup of your library folders using the OneDrive GUI.

1. Right-click on the OneDrive icon in the system tray at the bottom right of your screen. The symbol is a blue or grey cloud. If the cloud symbol has a line running through it, then you’re not signed in to OneDrive and you first need to sign in using your Microsoft account email address and password.

2. Assuming you were already signed in, in the window which appears, click on Settings.

3. Click on the Back up tab and then the button Manage back up

4. In the resulting window, you will see a box for each of the three library folders Desktop, Documents and Pictures. If any of these folders are already being backed up to OneDrive, the box will display Files backed up under the name of the folder.

5. If backup to OneDrive for any of these folders hasn’t already been set up, you’ll see a tick in a circle at the top right of the box. You may need to hover your mouse over the box in order to see this tick. To set up synchronisation of any of these folders, ensure that the circle is ticked. This will be represented by a tick in a blue circle.

6. Ensure that each of the three boxes has a tick in a blue circle (unless it already says Files backed up) and click the button Start back up.

7. A window will be displayed indicating that OneDrive is starting to back up your files. Feel free to close this window. From this point on all the contents of the three library folders will be continuously synchronised to OneDrive.

After you’ve set up the backup of your library folders to OneDrive, you will continue to work with them in the normal manner on your computer. However, they are now being continuously synchronised to your OneDrive cloud storage as you work.

As mentioned at the beginning, Microsoft OneDrive is one of the most convenient cloud storage options available. Other popular alternatives include Dropbox, Google Drive and Mega.

If you're somewhere in Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan or the Redlands I'd be more than happy to assist you with getting your cloud storage backup up and running. I cover a wide range of suburbs and I can also assist you with any other computer-related issues you may be having. I'm here to help so please don't hesitate to get in touch.

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