I Need Copilot for Microsoft 365 to Work with Local Excel Files

Copper Contributor

I need Copilot for Microsoft 365 to work with local files, not just OneDrive files.  Otherwise Copilot is useless for just about everyone.  People don't just store files on OneDrive/SharePoint in an organization.  Some organization even prohibit such cloud storage.  Copilot works fine with Word local documents.  Why not Excel? 


Help with this would be appreciated.

7 Replies
just set up your onedrive to redirect local files in Documents and Desktop, done and done.

To set up your local documents and desktop to redirect to OneDrive, follow these steps:

1. **Prepare to Move Known Folders on Existing Devices**:
- Before deploying, ensure you upgrade to the latest available build.
- If users have a lot of files in their known folders, roll out the configuration gradually to minimize network impact during file uploads.
- Note that Known Folder Move doesn't work for users syncing OneDrive files in SharePoint Server.

2. **Configure Known Folder Move Policies**:
- OneDrive policies can be set using Group Policy, Intune Windows 10 Administrative Templates, or by configuring registry settings.
- The following policies control the Known Folder Move feature:
- **Prompt users to move Windows known folders to OneDrive**: This policy prompts users to move their known folders.
- **If folders have been redirected to a location on a local PC**:
- Disable the Window Folder Redirection Group Policy.
- Make sure to leave the folder and contents at the redirected location.
- Enable Known Folder Move Group Policy.
- Known folders move to OneDrive.
- **If folders have been redirected to a network file share**:
- Use Migration Manager to copy contents from the network file share location to a user's OneDrive.
- Ensure all contents go into the existing Documents, Pictures, or Desktop folders.

For detailed instructions, refer to the official Microsoft documentation: [Redirect and move Windows known folders to OneDrive](https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/redirect-known-folders) ¹.

Remember that this process allows your users to continue using familiar folders while ensuring data backup in the cloud. Happy syncing! :glowing_star:

Source: Conversation with Bing, 3/8/2024
(1) Redirect and move Windows known folders to OneDrive. https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/redirect-known-folders.
(2) Windows 11 - documents folder is linked to onedrive instead of the pc .... https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/all/windows-11-documents-folder-is-linked-to-onedr....
(3) One Drive - Redirect OneDrive to Drive D, rather than the default of .... https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/all/one-drive-redirect-onedrive-to-drive-d-rather-....

I definitely appreciate the workaround here.  This is very detailed.  As I can tell, this is only going to work for single users working in their own Documents directory.  I may use this technique for some users, but almost all of our customers have files all over the place on their Windows Servers, with multiple people opening, editing, and saving them.

You can use Copilt Studio to connect your external or other data sources to use with your Microsoft 365 Copilot.
I would have to disagree with the Statement "People don't just store files on OneDrive/SharePoint in an organization". Having worked for 3 large multinational organisations of many years and also advising on tools and best practice, we very much use Onedrive/Sharepoint. In fact, new devices are configured so that the "Documents" folder they see on their device is on OneDrive.
Effective collaboration is everything! Should you change your mind and use OneDrive or SharePoint, then to work with files locally, you simply "synch" the folder locally and you can then work on your files. I work and develop in Excel in this manner daily and have done for years
Mark, those are your organizations. Those are not our customers.

Also no security professional would recommend putting all data in cloud storage. In fact, during a security audit, the consultants said NOT to do that, and anything in cloud storage should be password protected.

I do wish Microsoft would put more emphasis on privacy and security. I can see why so many companies are getting hit with ransomware attacks. Here is a quote from Seagate, "Ransomware attacks on cloud storage are becoming increasingly common and destructive." All of the cloud providers put language in their Terms of Use indemnifying them for any loss or damage to data.


Fair enough, I get there are many different scenarios, I took your "People don't just store files on OneDrive/SharePoint in an organization" as a generalisation, not your specific customers. I also appreciate the battle to get people to organise and have better working practices having fought it for many years. But just to throw in some other observations from security experts

"Security experts generally consider storing files on Microsoft 365's cloud services like SharePoint Online and OneDrive to be safer than storing them locally on PCs when it comes to protecting against ransomware attacks. 
Advantages of Cloud Storage (SharePoint/OneDrive):
1. Built-in security controls and threat protection by Microsoft against ransomware and malware.
2. Files stored in the cloud are isolated from user devices, reducing exposure to ransomware infection vectors.
3. Versioning and recovery capabilities allow restoring previous unencrypted file versions after an attack.
4. Microsoft's security monitoring, patching, and incident response capabilities for their cloud services.
Disadvantages of Local PC Storage:
1. User devices are directly exposed to all ransomware infection vectors like malicious emails, websites, removable media etc.
2. If a PC gets infected, all locally stored files are vulnerable to encryption by ransomware.
3. Relies completely on endpoint protection, backup discipline and user security awareness.
4. Recovering from ransomware is more complex when files are locally encrypted across many devices.


Most security experts like those from Gartner, Forrester, and SANS recommend treating cloud storage as one critical layer of protection against ransomware, but not as a complete solution. Cloud and local storage used together with backup, recovery, scanning, and other security controls provides multi-layered "ransomware resilience."
The consensus is that while not perfect, the controlled cloud environment, monitoring capabilities, and versioned recovery options of M365 storage services reduce the attack surface and impacts of ransomware compared to solely storing files locally on PCs."

This is getting way off topic. This is not a discussion of data storage locations. My customers have a need to open Excel files from their Microsoft servers and use it with Copilot for Microsoft 365.

If Microsoft does not have a solution for this yet, and the file needs to reside on their cloud servers for Copilot to analyze the data, may I suggest that they automate the process of uploading it when the file is opened from local storage, running Copilot on the data, and then automatically storing it back in the original local storage location when completed? It doesn't seem like it would take that much code to do this.  Without this automation, it makes it a harder sell to them to purchase Copilot for Microsoft 365.