Help understanding onedrive backup logic/rules

New Contributor

Would someone who knows, kindly help me to understand what onedrive backup does.

I've read a lot of MS web pages and they don’t tell me me what I need to know.

First, what I want to achieve is automatic and regular backup of nominated directories  (mostly documents and photos) and their content  to onedrive  for the purpose of backup and retrieval, NOT for syncing across devices for shared availability, although I understand it has that capability too.  (A third feature is that it can "free up" space on your local file system by moving files offline).

These are three different use cases in my estimation.

The outcome should be that my files remain where they are on my PC but a copy is existent in the onedrive cloud which I can access and retrieve if I need.


Onedrive looks promising for backup, but I cannot figure it out.  I haven’t used it before.


My questions:

After I turn it on and go to "manage backups", select the documents and photos folders and "start backup" and after it has synced the directories where will the physical files actually reside?

a) on onedrive only?

b) both on onedrive AND my local PC simultaneously?

c) ?

I fully understand that I can navigate using a synced directory to access the files wherever they are, but I need to understand where are they physically stored.  


Next question, if I change a file (i.e.: CRUD) on my PC when will the change be synced to onedrive?  e.g. immediately?  batch?  periodically?


Last question, if I add a file to the onedrive share with a different device from my PC will it be copied (synced) to my local PC?


There seem to be many confusing options to make files resident "always on the local machine" or "always in the cloud" or "always save to PC" and so on, but I cannot figure out where the files will exist from the MS doco or under what conditions.


Any insight anyone can give me is much appreciated in advance,

but please dont link me to more MS doco, I've read a ton of it and it seems designed to obfuscate the info that I actually need.



2 Replies

@Bill888 Just to partly answer my own question; I think OneDrive isn’t intended to be a backup solution.  Its just an offline storage location with syncing to multiple devices via the MS account for ease of access to the synced files and integration with Windows apps.  Any change to a file is immediately synced to all devices, which is useless for backup purposes.




No it isnt, it's just some marketing fluff. If you have a need for a "traditional" backup program, OneDrive will not tick even half the boxes.