How to Sync Your Desktop to the Cloud With OneDrive

Access your desktop from any device via the cloud and OneDrive

An image of Microsoft OneDrive on a computer, tablet, and smartphone.

Microsoft 

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Services like Dropbox and OneDrive provide a way to access all your documents across multiple PCs, tablets, and your phone. Syncing your Windows desktop to the cloud via OneDrive ensures that you can always find important files when you need them on any device.

Instructions in this article applies to Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7.

Why Sync Your Windows Desktop With OneDrive?

Putting commonly used folders such as your Windows desktop in the cloud is a great solution for anyone that uses their desktop as a general dumping ground for downloaded files or frequently accessed items. That way, you'll always have those files synced across your devices. You can also set other PCs you use to sync their desktops with OneDrive.

How to Move Your Desktop to the Cloud With OneDrive

Before you can begin, you must have the OneDrive desktop sync client installed on your version of Windows. Anyone running Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 will already have this program, but Windows 7 users will have to download and install the sync client manually. Window 8 users can upgrade to Windows 8.1 to start using OneDrive.

  1. Open the Windows File Explorer and right-click Desktop, then select Properties from the context menu that appears.

    Open the Windows File Explorer and right-click Desktop, then select Properties.
  2. Select the Location tab in the Desktop Properties window.

    Select the Location tab in the Desktop Properties window.
  3. Select Move under the text entry box.

    Select Move under the text entry box.
  4. Double-click OneDrive.

    Double-click OneDrive.
  5. Select New Folder to create a new folder.

    Select New Folder to create a new folder.
  6. Name the new folder Desktop and press Enter.

    Name the new folder Desktop and press Enter.
  7. With the Desktop folder highlighted, click Select Folder.

    With the Desktop folder highlighted, click Select Folder.
  8. Select Apply to apply the new settings. The text entry box in the Location tab should now looks as follows:

    C:\Users\User Name\OneDrive\Desktop

    You can skip steps 3-7 by changing the file location manually.

    Select Apply to apply the new settings.
  9. Select Yes to confirm that you want to move the desktop to OneDrive.

    Select Yes to confirm that you want to move the desktop to OneDrive.
  10. Select OK to close the Desktop Properties window.

    Select OK to close the Desktop Properties window.

You can move any folder on your Windows computer to OneDrive using the same process.

Are My Files Secure in the Cloud?

Moving your desktop or other folders to the cloud is far more convenient than transferring files with a USB stick. That said, there are some security implications to consider. Whenever you put files online, they are potentially accessible to others. Law enforcement can, for example, use a warrant to demand access to your files, and you may not even be made aware of this when it happens.

A more common predicament is when malicious hackers guess or outright steal your account password. If that happens, the bad guys would potentially have access to your OneDrive files. That's not a huge deal if all you've got saved to the cloud is old poetry from high school. Unauthorized access to work documents or files with personal information, however, can be devastating.

There are a number of security measures you can take to mitigate this risk. One is to enable two-factor authentication for your cloud storage account. A simpler measure is to avoid putting anything in the cloud that has information you wouldn't want others to see. For home users, that usually means keeping items such as financial spreadsheets, bills, and mortgages on your hard drive and not in the cloud.