How To Sync Your Windows 8 Settings Via The Cloud

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sync windows 8Microsoft wants you to log into your Windows 8 computers with a Microsoft account How Microsoft Overhauled User Accounts In Windows 8 How Microsoft Overhauled User Accounts In Windows 8 What's up with user accounts in Windows 8? It's not complicated - Microsoft wants everyone to use an online account to sign into their desktop operating system. Sure, they offer an offline equivalent, but they... Read More . This enables access to the Windows Store and other Modern apps, but it’s also used to sync Windows 8 settings — even some desktop settings — with the Cloud. Your settings will be synced between all your Windows 8 computers and tablets, or backed up with your Microsoft account so they’ll take effect after you refresh your PC or buy a new one.

Syncing is enabled by default if you use a Microsoft account, and unavailable if you use a local user account. However, you can choose to disable sync entirely or sync only certain types of settings between your computers and tablets — that’s up to you.

Enabling & Disabling Syncing

You can check whether syncing is enabled by opening the PC settings app. To open it, swipe in from the right or press Windows Key + C to open the Charms bar and select Settings. Click or tap the Change PC settings option at the bottom of the Settings panel.

sync windows 8

Select the Sync your settings option to view and customize your syncing configuration. If you’d like to disable settings syncing, slide the Sync settings on this PC slider at the top of the screen to Off. You can also disable individual types of settings and only allow certain settings to sync.


What Windows 8 Syncs

Windows 8.1 will add new syncing features, but the following features are included with the initial version of Windows 8. All these settings can be enabled or disabled individually.

  • Personalize: This option syncs personalization settings for the new Start screen Make Windows 8 Sexier With These Background & Theme Tweaks Make Windows 8 Sexier With These Background & Theme Tweaks Does your Windows 8 system look too bland with the default settings? You can customize it in a variety of ways, changing a variety of backgrounds and colors -- whether on the Start screen, lock... Read More and Modern environment. This includes the colors, background, lock screen image, and account picture you choose. Enable this and you’ll only have to set up your Modern environment once — your settings will take effect on each PC you log into. Change settings on one PC you use and the changes will also take effect on your other PCs.
  • Desktop personalization: This category includes personalization settings for the desktop — everything from the Windows desktop theme you choose Amazing Windows 8 Themes You Need To See Amazing Windows 8 Themes You Need To See Windows has always had an active community of enthusiasts who customize everything about it, including its desktop theme. Although Microsoft tries to prevent this, Windows 8's desktop can be themed just like Windows 7's. We've... Read More to your taskbar configuration.
  • Passwords: The Passwords category syncs passwords you provide for “some apps”, websites, networks, and HomeGroup networks. For example, if you enable this, you’ll only have to sign into your HomeGroup network once — other computers you log into will automatically receive your HomeGroup password and log in. For security reasons, these settings only sync to your PC after you “trust your PC,” which involves performing two-factor authentication on Microsoft’s website.
  • Ease of Access: This option syncs accessibility settings, including those for the narrator and magnifier.
  • Language preferences: This option syncs the display language you choose for windows, keyboard settings, and more. It’s particularly useful if you don’t use the default settings and spend time customizing your language options.
  • App settings: The App settings category includes “certain app settings and purchases made in an app.” This applies only to Modern apps, and only includes settings an app’s developers choose to sync.
  • Browser: Windows can now synchronize your Internet Explorer favorites, history, and other browser data between your Windows 8 computers. Note that this only applies to the Internet Explorer browser — other browsers like Chrome The Better Browser With Great Features - Google Chrome The Better Browser With Great Features - Google Chrome Google Chrome presently is the most popular browser on the planet. It took Chrome less than 4 years to rise from barely 1% market share to where it is now. Globally, more than one out... Read More and Firefox The Firefox Mini Review - A Fresh Look At a Familiar Browser The Firefox Mini Review - A Fresh Look At a Familiar Browser Firefox took browsing to a whole new level. It offered a stable, open source, cross-platform browser with innovative features, such as tabs, extensions, and find as you type search. Granted, many of its features weren't... Read More have their own built-in syncing features.
  • Other Windows settings: This category includes settings for the File Explorer application (formerly Windows Explorer), mouse settings, “and more.” It’s a catch-all for other miscellaneous settings that don’t fit in the categories above.

The syncing takes place automatically with multiple PCs, like syncing data between Chrome or Firefox browsers. When you make a change, that change will automatically propagate to your other PCs. When you log into a new computer for the first time, Windows will download the settings tied to your Microsoft account and set up the PC automatically.

windows 8 cloud sync

There are also options for controlling syncing over “metered connections.” Windows 8 sets mobile networks to metered by default, so disabling this option will prevent your settings from syncing on networks where you’ll be charged for the amount of data you can use, reducing the mobile data you use and possibly saving you money.

windows 8 cloud sync

Other Microsoft Apps Sync Separately

Windows 8 has other syncing features that don’t appear in the PC Settings application. For example, Modern apps What Are The Best Apps To Get Started With Windows 8? What Are The Best Apps To Get Started With Windows 8? Read More you install (or purchase) from the Windows Store are also tied to your Microsoft account, so you can access them from the Windows Store on all your connected PCs. You can access the list of “Your apps” from the Windows Store app.

windows 8 cloud sync

Files you store in SkyDrive are tied to your Microsoft account and can be accessed from the Modern SkyDrive app. If you want to access your SkyDrive files on the desktop, like you would with Dropbox or Google Drive The Cloud Storage Showdown - Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive & More The Cloud Storage Showdown - Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive & More The cloud storage scene has heated up recently, with a long-awaited entry by Google and a revamped SkyDrive from Microsoft. Dropbox has gone unchallenged by the major players for a long time, but that’s changed... Read More , you’ll have to install the SkyDrive desktop app, which isn’t included with Windows. Note that, because this app is only available separately, there’s no way to synchronize your SkyDrive files to a folder on your computer on Windows RT Windows RT - What You Can & Can't Do Windows RT - What You Can & Can't Do Windows RT edition was discreetly launched about a month and a half ago with the flagship Microsoft Surface RT tablet device. Though visually indistinguishable from Windows 8, there are some key differences as to what... Read More — you can’t install other desktop applications on Windows RT, including Microsoft’s SkyDrive client.

windows 8 cloud

Removing Your Synced Data

Microsoft’s Windows 8 Personal Settings website allows you to erase your synced settings. First, you’ll need to disable settings syncing on each Windows 8 PC you use. Next, visit the website and click the Remove button to delete all your personal settings from the Cloud.

windows 8 cloud

This is useful if you want to wipe your settings and start over from scratch, or if you’re done with Windows 8 and want Microsoft to forget all your personal data.

To start over from scratch after doing this, you’ll have to reset or refresh your PC to get back to the default settings. You could also remove your Windows 8 user account from the PC before re-adding it to your PC — if you’ve disabled syncing and deleted your synced data from the Cloud, you’ll start with a clean slate the next time you sign in with the account on a fresh PC.

sync windows 8

Word is that Windows Blue, also known as Windows 8.1, will sync more settings, such as the layout of the pinned tiles on your Start screen Modern All The Way: Creating Custom Tiles for Windows 8 Modern All The Way: Creating Custom Tiles for Windows 8 To tile or not to tile? One of the most divisive elements of Windows 8 is the Start screen's tiles. These square or rectangle-shaped buttons are effectively shortcuts to launching apps, and are often displaying... Read More , open tabs in your Internet Explorer browsers, and more.

Have you noticed anything else about settings sync in Windows 8? Has Windows 8’s sync been reliable for you, or have you had problems with it? Leave a comment and share your experiences!

Explore more about: Cloud Computing, Windows 8.

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  1. donna gauthier
    April 3, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    HI there,

    i just got a new ipad mini,and want to get fb working on there,do i have to use the same email address i have on my sony laptop or can i make a new one. i cannot get into the verify part on my ipad?? i don't want to use the same email and username on my ipad as on my sony laptop. i'm not really tech savy so need help with this.
    thank you donna.

  2. Nayeli
    April 9, 2015 at 9:37 am

    How can you save your synchronized lockscreen? My old laptop broke, and I really want the picture (Chevelle) back, but I can't retrieve it??

  3. Stephen
    February 20, 2015 at 7:14 am

    Thanks for the article. So I just installed Win 8.1 on bootcamp on a laptop, I've used it on a Mac pro desktop for a while. All the sync settings are on, yet the only thing 8.1 seems to have synced is my lock screen.

    I spent quite a while arranging the start screen on the Mac Pro, the laptop is currently the default windows, i suspect when I log into the Mac Pro next time Win 8.1 will convert that to be the default - i.e. do just the exact reverse of what I want.

    I can't find any mention of how to set an initial 'master' - its just meant to happen automatically, but doesn't.

  4. Bernard
    November 13, 2013 at 9:24 am

    I have the same question as Bob. It is the most important question regarding Syncing of Start Screen Tiles, but no one seems to have an answer!

  5. Bob
    August 30, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    If you have are setting up synching with 2 pc's with windows 8, how does windows know which computer to use as the master computer for settings. For example, on one computer I have internet explorer set to go to when internet explorer opens. On the other computer, I have internet explorer set to go to when internet explorer opens. How does windows 8 decide which computer to use for the master settings? I don't want the wrong computer to have it's setting overwritten.

  6. Kelvin
    June 30, 2013 at 12:57 am

    Would be useful but my mouse settings are very different between my Ultrabook and my desktop PC and this messes it up.

  7. Onaje Asheber
    June 19, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Nice article, Chris!