Files on demand - difference in 'locally available' and 'always available' files

Brass Contributor

I'm a bit confused with the two ways that a file can be saved to view offline.  What is the difference between the 'locally available' files and 'always available' files?  I saw the overview online, but it doesn't really tell me if the locally available files are cached somewhere or what... 

files on demand.JPG

Will locally available files that aren't opened after a certain amount of time go back to 'online only' or ...? 

Thx in advance!

20 Replies

I have the exact same questions, Chris, after reading the available information mentioned at and thinking more about it. 

As you said, based on the provided information, unless the "Locally available files" automatically delete themselves (the local copies) and switch back to "Online-only files", then I don't see the need or reason for the redundant "Always available files".  If the "Locally available files" don't automatically revert to "Online-only files", then why couldn't we simply have two (2) statuses, "Online-only files" and "Locally (Always) available files"?

We're hashing it out over here. Feel free to follow along or chime in. @Darrell Webster @Stephen Rose


Syncing Files On-Demand with #Office365 @DarrellaaS, I'm confused :\ about difference btwn "local" & "always." You?

— Noah Sparks (@noahsparks) October 20, 2017
best response confirmed by Chris Le Texier (Brass Contributor)

locally available files are ones you've already opened whilst online, or created while online, or created recently on another device while you were online; they stream down to your PC so you have them if you need them, but they're not guaranteed to be there. If you haven't opened the files in a while and the space is needed to stream down other recent files to make them available locally, they'll revert to being online only (AFAIK that's based on heuristics and will vary by free space, not a strict counter). if you want to guarantee that the files are always available offline, right-click and mark them as 'always available offline'. You can mix and match both kinds inside a folder.

Thanks, Mary, for the information.  It seems a bit vague as to how locally available files work, when they revert to online only, etc., but that is not a criticism of your explanation. 

If they do in fact work like you are saying and whether they (locally available files) would still be available (locally/offline) after a period of time, based on the system freeing up the space for other more recent files, then I can understand why Microsoft would see the need for 3 statuses:  online only, offline (always available), and locally available which is somewhat transient and changing over time.

This is how it works; I've been using it since April ;)
You have been using Files On Demand since April?
Since Build, yes ;) So while I haven't been told details of the offline availability decisions, I can tell you how it works in practice.

Okay. Thanks, Mary. I've been an Insider since the beginning (October 1, 2014) and appreciate your insight. When Files On Demand were unveiled at Build and then later rolled out to Insiders in the Fast Ring (Build 16215), I tested just a little bit, but didn't want to throw my real OneDrive data into the mix and really see how it worked day in and day out.  I'm doing that now.

The local file is cached and if the drive gets low on space, some of the oldest files that have not been accessed in a while may be moved back to a cloud state to free up space. Any files marked as "Always Keep On Device" will always stay and not be moved back to the cloud state, even if drive space is low.


We will add controls in the OneDrive Admin to manage this functionality at a future date.

Also, check out my blog post here on some of the switches you can use today to control Files On-Demand here.



it would be nice if some type of basic control for how "locally available files" were handled was added to the standard OneDrive (consumer) settings as well, not just OneDrive for Business.  To be clear, I'm referring to how it is determined when "locally available files" are reverted back to "online-only files".



Do you know if the files stay cached based on a specific time period or do the files simply stay cached until the disk runs low on space?  The latter seems like an odd approach to configuring a feature that was designed to save space on the local disk.  

The files are locally cached and synced. Once you run low on disk space, the oldest, unused files will be moved back to cloud (except for those marked "Always Available"). We will look to have some admin controls to set specific metrics for OneDrive in the future.

Files On-Demand went GA on Oct 17th as part of the Fall Creators Update.

@Stephen Rose Ahh then I must have missed the New Feature Announcement in my admin portal?

This unclear message on the 3 OneDrive options affects hundreds of millions of users.  Please change it at the earliest.  Many Thanks.

Thanks Stephen for the explanation.  Would you provide the path in Windows 10 where the files are locally cached? -Sam

Hello I was just wondering if there was any updates, on the admin controls to set specific metrics for OneDrive ?

Are "locally available files" supposed to be fresh?

Is such a file updated when a change happens in the cloud automatically, or does the file get its updates only when I open the file (while having an internet connection of course)?