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Backing up your important files is a good idea…usually.

Most computer users are familiar with the concept of backing up their user data to the “Cloud” or an external disk drive. Both methods have unique advantages. For advocates of the “Cloud” approach, Apple has the iCloud, Google has their Google Drive, there are several unaffiliated services such as Carbonite and iDrive, and then there is Microsoft’s OneDrive.

On its surface, OneDrive seems to make sense, but the implementation is a bit confusing. Files backed up via OneDrive appear in the user’s Documents folder and also in the OneDrive Documents folder. So, where are the files actually stored?

To help answer that and other OneDrive questions, Leo Notenboom has an excellent article that describes OneDrive and how it works. The article also has a resounding warning: Do Not Use the OneDrive Backup feature!

He explains the warning in detail in his article. But here are two takeaways:

  1. If you activate the OneDrive Backup feature, it immediately begins backing up all of your files: Documents, Photos, Music, Videos and so on. You very likely will soon receive a notice that you must purchase additional storage space to accommodate all of your files. That may be a surprise because there was no mention about how much storage may be needed.
  2. The bigger surprise is if you decide you don’t want so much stored and want to turn off the Backup feature—you can’t. Well, you can, but you risk losing all of the files that have been stored in OneDrive. So, until Microsoft changes that dire consequence, using OneDrive Backup is a one-way street.