How to Stop OneDrive from Syncing Folders on Windows

Cloud storage services like Google Drive, OneDrive, etc., are supposed to make our lives easier. However, OneDrive on Windows has annoyed many users because it hijacks some of the important Windows folders and stores everything from them in OneDrive. If this bothers you, here’s how to stop OneDrive from syncing folders on Windows PC.

How to stop OneDrive from syncing a folder

This guide will show you how to disable syncing of local folders from Windows PC to OneDrive, turn off saving of screenshots in OneDrive cloud, and turn off syncing of OneDrive folders to your PC. But first, let’s understand why you’d need to take such drastic steps.

Why Stop Syncing a OneDrive Folder on Windows

OneDrive offers two types of syncing. First, it syncs folders stored on the OneDrive cloud to your Windows PC, and second, it allows users to back up important folders to OneDrive. There’s another feature to save all screenshots in OneDrive.

How to Stop OneDrive From Deleting Files Automatically on Windows 11

While the first syncing feature is fine, as you can upload your files quickly, the second method is annoying. Firstly, it’s done automatically without the user’s permission. Secondly, not all users are comfortable with cloud storage. Some prefer to store data locally. Moreover, cloud storage usually has limited free space, and you will have to pay once the free storage is over.

How to Stop OneDrive From Syncing a Local Folder

When the backup is active for folders like Desktop, Documents, and Pictures, anything you save in these folders will automatically back up to OneDrive instead of your local storage. If you don’t want that, thankfully, you can quickly stop OneDrive from syncing Desktop, Documents, or other folders, as shown after the below section.

Step 1: Click on the OneDrive icon in the taskbar. If you don’t see it, click on the small Up arrow in the taskbar and then click on the OneDrive icon.

OneDrive Icon Taskbar

Note: Alternatively, open File Explorer and right-click on the OneDrive folder. It will either be called as OneDrive or your [username-Personal]. In the right-click menu, go to OneDrive > Settings. You will be taken to the OneDrive Settings window. Now, jump to step 3.

OneDrive Settings Open

Step 2: Click on the gear icon followed by Settings from the menu to open OneDrive Settings.

OneDrive Settings Launch

Step 3: Click on Sync and backup in the left sidebar. Then, click on Manage backup on the right.

OneDrive Settings Manage Backup

Step 4: Here, you will see three folders – Document, Pictures, Desktop. Turn off the toggle next to the folder you don’t want to back up to OneDrive.

Step 5: Finally, click on the Save Changes button at the bottom to stop syncing a folder.

OneDrive Settings Backup Off

Step 6: A confirmation pop-up will show up. Click on Stop backup.

OneDrive Settings Backup Off confirm

What Happens When You Stop OneDrive Local Backup

Once you stop the OneDrive backup, the following things will happen:

  • Existing files in the folder you turned off in OneDrive will be deleted from your computer but kept in OneDrive. For example, if you turn off the Pictures folder, any data that you had in it will be removed from your computer, and the local Pictures folder will appear empty. However, don’t worry. You can easily move the folders back to your PC shown in the below section.
  • New files will be saved on your PC only. For instance, if OneDrive were taking a backup of anything you saved in the Documents folder, it would not do so. The files will be saved locally.

How to Move Files and Folders Back From OneDrive to Local Windows Folder

Once you have turned off the backup of the Desktop, Document, and Pictures folder on your Windows PC, it’s time to move the data back to local storage. You might think of changing the Windows folder location from OneDrive to a local folder. However, that’s not possible. You simply have to copy-paste the data as shown below.

Things to Consider While Using This Method

  • This method will not work if you uninstalled OneDrive or aren’t logged into OneDrive. Install the OneDrive again, sign in, turn off the backup, and move the files.
  • If you cannot download files using the below method, go to OneDrive and sign in with your Microsoft account. Download the files from OneDrive to your PC. Once downloaded, you can delete them from your OneDrive account. Please ensure to turn off the backup before deleting the files.

Now, let’s begin with the steps.

Copy Data From the OneDrive Folder

Step 1: After turning off the backup of folders as shown above, open File Explorer or This PC on your computer.

Step 2: Go to C:\Users\[username] where username is your actual username.

Windows USername folder

Step 3: Double-click on the OneDrive folder to open it.

Windows USername folder Onedrive

Step 4: Go to the folder from which you want to copy files and folders. Let’s say Pictures.

Windows User OneDrive Pictures Folder

Step 5: Select the desired files or use the Ctrl + A keyboard shortcut to select all files. Then, use Ctrl + C to copy the files.

Paste Data in Local Windows Folder

Follow these steps to paste the data copied from OneDrive to your local Windows folder:

Step 1: Go back to your username’s folder i.e., C:\Users\[username].

Windows USername folder

Step 2: Open the folder where you want to paste the files. Since we copied files from Pictures in this tutorial, open the Pictures folder. However, you can paste the files into any folder of your choice.

Windows User Picture folder

Step 3: Inside the folder, use the Ctrl + V keyboard shortcut to paste the files from OneDrive to a local folder.

Step 4: Similarly, repeat the steps for other folders like Desktop and Documents.

How to Stop Screenshots or Other Photos and Videos from Saving to OneDrive

If the screenshots you take on your Windows computer are saved to the OneDrive folder, you can disable it in OneDrive Settings. Similarly, OneDrive also offers a feature to save photos and videos from connected devices like a Camera, phone, etc., directly to OneDrive.

Thankfully, you can turn off this behavior as well in settings. Here’s how:

Step 1: Click on the OneDrive icon in the taskbar.

OneDrive Icon Taskbar

Step 2: Click the Settings icon and go to Settings.

OneDrive Settings Launch

Step 3: Select Sync and backup from the left sidebar. Now, turn off the toggles next to ‘Save photos and videos from devices’ and ‘Save screenshots I capture to OneDrive’ to disable syncing of mentioned files to OneDrive.

OneDrive Sync Off for Screenshots

Tip: Learn where to find screenshots on Windows PC.

How to Stop OneDrive From Syncing Online Folders to PC

If you have files stored in your OneDrive account, OneDrive gives you the option to sync those to your Windows PC. That way, you can easily access the files and folders from your OneDrive account on your PC and also save your files to OneDrive quickly.

However, if you don’t want to sync or show files and folders from your OneDrive account on your PC, disable the syncing of OneDrive folders.

Follow these steps to stop syncing OneDrive folders to a PC:

Step 1: Open OneDrive Settings by clicking on the OneDrive icon in the taskbar.

OneDrive Icon Taskbar

Step 2: Click on the Settings icon and select Settings from the menu.

OneDrive Settings Launch

Step 3: Select Account from the left sidebar and click Choose folders.

OneDrive Account Folders

Step 4: Now, if you don’t want to show any file or folder from OneDrive on your PC, uncheck the box next to ‘Make all files available’.

Note: If you want to unsync a specific folder or subfolder only, uncheck it from the list of folders.

Step 5: Click on the Ok button to save the changes.

OneDrive Select Sync Folders

Note: Unscyning a OneDrive folder will remove the folder only from your computer. You can still access the folder and its files from the web version of OneDrive or on other devices.

FAQs on Stopping OneDrive From Syncing Folders

1. How to stop OneDrive from syncing everything?

First, turn off the syncing and backup of folders and move the data to local storage. Then, you can go ahead and disable OneDrive. You can do it in many ways. For instance, you can completely uninstall OneDrive from your PC. If you want to keep OneDrive on your PC, you can unlink your Microsoft account. Alternatively, you can even pause the sync temporarily. Check our detailed guide on how to disable OneDrive on Windows PC.

2. How to stop OneDrive from syncing a specific file?

You cannot stop OneDrive from syncing specific files. You can only disable syncing of folders. If you don’t want OneDrive to sync a file, you should create a new folder and put the files in it. Then, disable the syncing of the newly created folder.

Take Hold of OneDrive

We hope you were able to stop OneDrive from syncing folders. Also, check out other ways to stop Windows from saving files to OneDrive. And if OneDrive has gotten out of control, learn how to stop OneDrive from deleting files.

Last updated on 04 August, 2023

The above article may contain affiliate links which help support Guiding Tech. However, it does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains unbiased and authentic.