Hands on with OneDrive On-Demand Sync for Windows 10

Microsoft is working on an update to OneDrive that enables a new feature called On-Demand Sync. This new feature will allow users to view their entire OneDrive library without downloading any files unless you specifically need to edit a document or photo. This saves disk space, and is a much better solution to "cloud files".

We've thrown together a quick video which demonstrates how On-Demand Sync works, and why it's a better solution than the current way OneDrive handles documents. The current solution will download any synced file, whether you want it to or not, which takes up disk space and ruins the whole idea of cloud-based files. On-Demand Sync fixes this.

The new On-Demand Sync feature adds an additional column to File Explorer, that indicates to the user whether a specific file or folder is still in the cloud, local or saved. If it's in the cloud, you'll see a cloud icon, which means the file currently isn't on your system. If you double click on that, it temporarily downloads to your PC, allowing you to edit said file, and then once you're done with it, it resyncs to your cloud and gets removed from your PC, saving space.

If you want, you can of course tell OneDrive to keep a file on your PC, meaning it won't get removed after you're done with it. Microsoft will be introducing On-Demand Sync with the Fall Creators Update later this year. Windows Insiders should be able to play with On-Demand Sync soon. Are you excited for On-Demand Sync? Let us know.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • Excited? Relieved to get placeholders BACK! Madness removing them in the first place.
    But, yes, very pleased they are making a return. 🙂
  • I am pretty excited about this returning feature. It will save a lot of space on my hard drive!!
  • At least they are back better than before. E.g. you can open files from anywhere now, command line included.  And the UI feels more natural. Can't wait for this option to arrive as I'm a big OneDrive user.
  • now they should implemente a proper sync between mobile and desktop, for example if I edit or delete a picture from mobile it will sync to onedrive and to pc, but not viceversa :(
  • Sync works fine for me the other way around? Unless I'm misunderstanding Edit:I understand now. I think with Windows 10 on ARM it'll do this. I think the problem is the way the apps work on W10M vs W10 is a little different.
  • A 'new' feature? Really? I'm starting to worry my memory is playing tricks on me...
  • New... to Windows 10. It's like buying a 1988 Camaro, it is new.... to you.
  • Lol... "new"...
  • Finally. Only took them 4 years to give us this feature back...
  • They still haven't given back browser tab sync, though.
  • Yes !!!
    I don't use One Drive anymore for that reason.
    The constant syncing, uploading, downloading drove me mad
  • Really, all you have to do is disable auto start in task manager.
    When Windows starts, it doesn't connect and the folder looks like any.
    When you ready to sync, say ounce a week... You just click OneDrive desktop app on the start menu and it starts downloading.
  • You are correct, but I'd contend that not wanting your stuff constantly backed up is the REAL madness :D
  • that won't change, onedrive always syncs your files if they're modified. on-demand sync will only cause more downloading and uploading, as you can edit files directly without first syncing it for offline use. just like it was before they removed it.
  • installed the new client after h0x0d tweeted about it... works very well already! Saved about 30+ gig on my SP3's ssd :)
  • Can you share the link please :)
  • this should be the one : https://mega.nz/#!ZgNSgLDb!NyCNgCOssa5dh4VUHxyv8EZ4wA2F1mRDdsCdZCFfbyE
  • do note though this only works on the latest Insider Fast build 16215 iirc
  • Is there a setting to turn selective sync on or off? Or is that how it will work by default?
  • It's a setting you can set per account. By default it's not enabled.
  • Awesome. Thanks.
  • https://twitter.com/h0x0d/status/874552605812314112
  • I'll wait.. lol
  • MS stupidity, removing this option and bringing it back again. Do they have any strategy or just playing games!
  • Please have a deeper look before saying stupid things. They removed the last On-demand Sync because the thumbails takes a few place in user local drive and for users that have millions of files it tooks all the computer memory. They take it back now because they have corrected this problem ;) So they strategy is correct, but your brain is playing game
  • That is bullshit, dude. I have over 200GB of data and pics in my OneDrive, and the original selective sync on Windows 8 worked GREAT at saving me space. What you're spouting is total, fabricated nonsense.
  • it's not. if you don't browse through all those files, it won't create thumbnails, so it won't take up that much space.
    if you have a 128gb drive, and about 200gb photo's which have all been opened and edited over time, the thumbnails will use a pretty significant amount of storage. i always cleared the thumbnails every once in a while. while placeholders did save space, thumbnails could still take up enough space to cause a problem on a smaller hdd/ssd. now with my 750gb ssd it isn't a real problem anymore.
  • Nope, not true. Even when I only had a 128GB model it was never, EVER a problem.
  • Looks like YOU never had UNLIMITED OneDrive
  • They do this over and over and over, with so many features it's ridiculous. That's part of why so many people distrust them and their products.
  • Without a doubt, this is the single biggest feature I was missing and something every tablet owner will appreciate. This with the new differential sync, are great additions to OneDrive.
  • So if I view a picture or a video from my OneDrive it will always download it on my local hard drive? Is there a way to stop it from locally downlading in the first place? I hate having to manually click on "clear space" for each file a view. When I view videos on YouTube they don't get stored locally on my disk, Why can't this work the same?
  • From what i understood from the video, it will automatically clear itself after a certain amount of time unless you click the "always keep on this device" option
  • I can't figure that out either. I have a video file in my OneDrive folder now and when I right click on it there is no option for "clear space" or anything like that. If I click to delete it warns me that it will also remove it from the cloud.
  • i guess it will automatically clear itself, as stated above by Zachary Wilmes, and if you run out of space it will probably clear as well
  • Glad to see MS invented hot water....again.
  • Not new, just going back to what one drive used to do....another example of MS not having a strategy, just reacting and counter reacting to moans
  • finally, they've come to their senses! haha I can finally upgrade to 10.
  • 10 on PC is great and has been since the fall update of 2015 (the July release was buggy as hell, and it was clear they shouldn't have released it). Sadly, Windows 10 Mobile is STILL a disaster.
  • I must be one of the few who don't like this. This means that if someone gets a hold of my PC they will be able to see my entire OneDrive library.
  • You just don't sync the files. You stil have that option. The big difference is that if you are syncing, they aren't taking the space on your PC anymore. It works very much like it did in Windows 8 & 8.1.
  • Hmm that's not how I recalled it working... All your files would show in Explorer and then you could select which ones you wanted to always keep offline. Just as the video shows.
  • I have this on my Surface and can verify that you can turn on OneDrive On-Demand sync, and then go into the Properties to choose which folders you want to add. There is a checkbox to make all folders and files available for on demand but you don't need to.  The link below will send you to my OneDrive showing images of this setup.   https://1drv.ms/f/s!AtEPYEb2pMqDpu8AeVLE3CFKmiAxOQ
  • Ohhh, that's great. It's like they took the best from Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 and made this perfect solution. Thanks for the info.
  • If someone malevolent gets a hold of your PC (unlocked or unencrypted) you're pretty much screwed anyway.
  • Yes they do it right this time with rhe help pf some sort of machine learning cloud blah blah... I can't remwmber the exact term... Microsoft connected cloud??    Anyways, this is so much better implementation 
  • Looking forward to freeing up some local disc space.
  • Too confusing for noobs
  • Definitely useful for smaller drives but in a workplace with crappy WiFi, it is great knowing my files are offline. I also have students with no internet at home who can still work and sync at school. There are scenarios for both placeholders and real files.