Why does OneDrive have access to regedit??? Lost my files!!!

Copper Contributor

I had 2 hard drives installed in my PC, one SSD 120GB as my operating system drive and one 1TB HDD for my data. My HDD is starting to fail for some reason (maybe because of old age) as it now sometimes disconnects for no reason and I have to disconnect and reconnect the SATA cables for it to start working again. Fearing the worst, I installed a new 2TB SSD, and everything went smoothly. Since I have such a huge amount of space in my new 2TB drive and my operating system drive is beginning to lose space (I have only 5GB of storage left in my operating system drive), I decided to move my user file folders to my new SSD. Again, everything went smoothly.

Then I decided to reconfigure my OneDrive. My OneDrive was pointing to one of my HDD drives, so I want to migrate it to my new SSD. The migrate part itself gives no problem, but the main problem is when OneDrive asked me if I want to backup my user folders to OneDrive (folders such as Documents, Downloads, Videos, Desktop, etc). I admittedly didn't really read this thoroughly and I went ahead and clicked OK without really understanding what it wanted to do. Quickly realized afterwards what it wanted to do and I decided that I didn't want that. So, I canceled it. (I don't really remembered how I canceled it, maybe it was from the backup folders menu)

Again, at this point disaster hasn't occurred yet. Everything was still normal. However, something strange happens: I originally set up my OneDrive folder to be in X:\User\OneDrive. That is, it's in my new user folder that I've just migrated previously to my new SSD. However, for some reason, it also creates a new folder in X:\OneDrive. Now, I have no idea what's going on here, but I don't want OneDrive to be in that path, so I deleted that folder.

Little did I know, that OneDrive edited my registry and changed Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders. In that entry, it changed folders such as Documents to X:\OneDrive\Documents... which I've now deleted. And for another reason that I have no goddamn idea why, the new documents folder, which I've migrated from C:\User\Documents to X:\User\Documents, HAVE BEEN WIPED OUT OF EXISTENCE. I NEVER DELETED THIS DOCUMENTS FOLDER. I'VE USED A PC FOR OVER A DECADE AND I HAVE NEVER DELETED MY DOCUMENTS FOLDER. Obviously I didn't delete it, so my number one culprit is OneDrive, as I suspect that backing up the user folders will also, for some reason, move the entire folder to OneDrive (???), and if you think that those files maybe are backed up in OneDrive, I've checked and there's nothing but the reflection of my tears. This is probably because I quickly canceled the user folder backup before it actually had time to back up those files.

Now there are a lot of weird stuff happening here, all related to OneDrive and maybe it's because of misconfigurations on my part, but my question is, WHY DOES ONEDRIVE HAS ACCESS TO EDIT WINDOWS' REGISTRY??? WHY WOULD I EVER WANT MY USER PROFILE PATH TO BE POINTING TO MY ONEDRIVE CLOUD FOLDER???

I've never had a problem with OneDrive for 4 years since I've had this account. Now I'm deleting it with a bitter taste.

4 Replies
The registry is where system configuration data resides so of course OneDrive will write to it.
At some point you asked OneDrive to redirect system folders like Documents. Those folders are in your user profile path. This has been a normal practice for decades through such Windows features as roaming profiles.

Please get an experienced Windows tech to look at your computer. Your own edits to the system are what is doing damage.
If I did ask OneDrive to redirect system folders to the cloud, then it didn't make it clear that that's what OneDrive wants to do. As I've stated, OneDrive only ever asked me if I wanted to back up my user folders into OneDrive. Surely you would agree that this prompt doesn't constitute a command to redirect my user profile path registry into the cloud or OneDrive's folder path?

I have never denied that my own edits were one of the causes to the incident. However, again, my edits never caused any damage until I configured OneDrive to backup my user profile folder, which is doing something that is either completely misleading or completely uncalled for. In fact, I've now done a reset of my Windows installation, did the same edits as I've previously done before setting up OneDrive, and right now my system is working flawlessly.

I understand that if you're a Microsoft employee you would like to defend your products, but it would do wonders for OneDrive if we could recognize when something is a potential design flaw that might need some reconsiderations. The damage is already done as I don't actually have any backups, and thankfully the damage could've easily been a lot worse for a few reasons, so getting an experienced tech to look at my PC (even though I wouldn't necessary call myself a beginner at the slightest) would do nothing to help. I'm just here to provide my experience with OneDrive that I can wholeheartedly summarize as confusing and frustrating, in the hopes that maybe this information will provide useful insight for future use.
I am not a Microsoft employee. You will rarely find them on these community forums, only volunteers like myself who have to do their best with often unintelligble user requests.

Unfortunately " user profile path registry into the cloud or OneDrive's folder path?" makes absolutely no sense. Please take advantage of one of the ample OneDrive tutorials on the net before rambling about the cloud and registry. I've been using these tools sicne the last century and your misunderstanding of the basic concepts is a dangerous thing when turned to mucking about under the hood with your files.

These cloud sync systems have been around for a generation now. If you want to argue about the underlying design of how OneDrive (or Dropbox, Google Drive etc) works then that ship sailed a very long time ago.

Admittedly I'm nowhere near an expert on OneDrive, yet your responses merely point out my lack of technical jargon understanding regarding the cloud instead of addressing the actual issue that led to this mess. You clearly understand what I mean by the sentence which you called as nonsense, since I've elaborated on it in my original post. OneDrive asked me a single query; do I want to back up folders like Documents, Downloads, Desktop, etc, into OneDrive? And I said yes before changing my mind. So why would OneDrive edit Windows' registry, so that the Windows' path to what it recognizes as user folders such as Documents, is changed to the one at my local OneDrive folder that's synced to the cloud? Clearly the prompt does something that's completely different from what it proposes the user to be doing.

And that's not even touching the fact that I've followed Microsoft's official guides in their websites to migrate my OneDrive local folder path, yet it somehow still creates a new folder that's in a different path than the one that I've explicitly provided like I mentioned in my original post... If you're arguing that I'm misunderstanding the basic concepts of OneDrive, then you would argue that Microsoft's guide are grossly inadequate.