Productivity Windows

How to Back Up Your Desktop, Documents, and Pictures With Microsoft OneDrive

Ben Stegner 28-08-2018

Microsoft OneDrive, the cloud storage and sharing solution built into Windows 10, has continued to grow. Now it’s better integrated into the OS and gains features somewhat regularly.


One of the newest is its ability to back up certain folders outside of OneDrive. This helps solve one of the biggest pain points with cloud storage—that it only syncs data you place inside its specific folder.

Here’s how to back up your most important outside folders with OneDrive.

How to Back Up Your Desktop, Pictures, and Documents Folders Using OneDrive

OneDrive Backup Folders

  1. Click the OneDrive icon in the System Tray at the bottom-right corner of your screen (you may need to expand this area using the arrow icon). Select More > Settings.
  2. Jump to the Backup tab and click the Manage backup button to access this feature.
  3. Next, you’ll see a Back up your folders screen. Here, you can choose to back up your Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders. If you have any items in these folders that cause an issue, you’ll see an alert and won’t be able to proceed until you take care of them. See Microsoft’s help page on this feature to review types of invalid files.
    1. One of the most common issues is that OneDrive can’t back up PST files.
  4. Review the Space left in OneDrive after selection and make sure you’re happy with how you’re using your space. Click Start backup and OneDrive will begin syncing those folders.

Once OneDrive uploads the contents of these folders, you can access them from anywhere you sign into OneDrive. This includes the apps on your phone, the web portal, and other PCs. In fact, enabling this on two computers will sync the contents of each folder. If you run into syncing problems with OneDrive and Windows 10, check out these easy fixes.

Essentially, this lets you sync your most important files to OneDrive even if they’re not in the app’s folder. You can make this even more useful by moving your user folders to any location you like in Windows 10.


It’s convenient, but we still recommend a proper backup solution to really protect your files. Cloud storage sync like this isn’t a perfect backup solution because it will sync mistakes too. Have a look at Macrium Reflect Macrium Reflect: The Free Windows Backup Tool Review Backups are critical but good Windows backup tools can be pricey. Macrium Reflect lets you back up your computer for zero cost. Read More , an easy backup tool for anyone.

Related topics: Cloud Storage, Data Backup, Microsoft OneDrive.

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  1. Rhak
    October 29, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    Complete misinformation. Probably the last time I ever come here to look something up, these people don't seem to know what they're writing about.

    But hey, with this clickbait leading to nothing worth reading, at least I now know why they want you to disable Adblocker...

    • Ben Stegner
      October 29, 2019 at 9:27 pm

      Hey Rhak, I apologize for this. Sometimes we make mistakes, and this title was definitely misleading. My aim is always to help and explain clearly, so we've gone ahead and changed the title to more accurately reflect this feature. I've also updated the content, so it should be correct now.

      Thanks for visiting MakeUseOf, and I hope that this one small issue isn't enough to prevent you from coming back in the future. Again, I'm sorry for the confusion here.

  2. Paul
    October 17, 2019 at 9:21 pm

    Grossly misleading title.
    "Any Folder" is being able to select any folder your computer has access to in File Explorer. This only lets you choose one, two or three of the presented folders the dialog presents ( most of which I never use)!

    • Ben Stegner
      October 29, 2019 at 9:28 pm

      Paul, you're indeed right about this. I'm sorry for the inaccuracy; our title was definitely wrong here. I've changed the title to make it accurate and updated the content as well.

      Thanks for reading and for pointing this out so we can better serve readers.

  3. Stefanos
    June 26, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    Agree! You suck Ben. Waste of my time and yours.

  4. Andrei
    June 4, 2019 at 8:01 pm

    Just an example of first class journalism .
    Of course it is all wrong . What about mapped drives ? What about drives from different OS ? Does that not include "any" ?

  5. Eric Sturgeon
    December 3, 2018 at 8:41 pm

    I thought this would be a solution for backing up a folder that is not on the same drive as my O/S. Disappointing. Misleading title.

  6. 10basetom
    November 11, 2018 at 1:14 am

    Really, _any_ folder?? Totally misleading, clickbaity title.

  7. Wednesday
    August 28, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    Let me know when they really do let you backup the Dropbox folder that's not in Documents.

  8. GXP
    August 28, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    Title should read how to backup "more" folders and not any. Article limits to desktop, documents, and pictures folder. That is not "any" no matter it is. Thought you were going into symbolic links to sync non standard folders.

    • AB
      August 28, 2018 at 7:53 pm

      Right, the title is misleading!

    • Misleading Article Name
      May 21, 2019 at 4:11 pm