Is low disk space stressing you out? 


Why not move those pesky local files to a cloud storage provider?  Cloud storage is a great way to not only free up local disk space on your computer, but also have access to your files from anywhere.  By now you’ve probably experienced some form of online cloud storage.  Some of the popular ones have certainly been: Dropbox and Google Drive among countless others.  If you’ve been using Windows over the last few years, no doubt you’ve also noticed OneDrive, Microsoft’s go-to offering.The cost of storing files online is getting lower all the time (for as little as $10 dollars a month you can get up to 1 Terabyte of storage).  The problem you run into however, is when you’re ready to interact with your online files.


What if I want to rename or rearrange the files I’m storing in the cloud?

Cloud storage providers have typically presented us with the same problem – you either have to fire up your browser and modify it through the web or keep the file synchronized to your computer, essentially consuming however much space is needed to keep that file downloaded on your hard drive.  If you’re working on a device where disk space is at a premium – say, a tablet – that can get real expensive real fast.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to see all of the files you have online at once, but not have to sacrifice that limited disk space to keep an actual copy of it on your computer?  Windows has the perfect solution to your problem: it’s called Files on Demand.


Why is this important?

With Files on Demand, users can see all of their files stored in OneDrive, while staying within the traditional File Explorer view on their computer, and not have to first download the files to their computer!  This really changes the way we are traditionally used to working with cloud files and can be especially helpful for those users with lots of files who have been hesitant to dip into using their tablet as a device full-time.


How do I get started?

Files on Demand is only available in Windows 10 running the latest Fall Creators Update.  If you’ve been putting off those Windows updates recently, then it’s time to go ahead and let them through!


How to enable Files on Demand


  1. From your computer, find the OneDrive icon in the bottom-right of your screen.

  1. Sign into OneDrive with either a Personal Microsoft account or your Office365 account, depending on where you store your files.


  1. Right-click the OneDrive icon again and open Settings.


  1. On the Settings tab, locate Files On-Demand and select “Save space and download files as you use them” and press OK.


  1. Now, go ahead and re-open your OneDrive Settings, go to the Account tab and click Choose folders.




  1. Select Make all files available and press OK.


  1. Click the OneDrive icon again and select the folder icon to open the OneDrive folder on your computer.


  1. You’ll now be able to see all of the files in your OneDrive from file explorer:



Notice that they files and folders have each been given a new Status icon:

Always Available: A full green circle with checkmark means the files are synced between OneDrive and your device.



Cloud Only: A cloud means the files are stored in OneDrive and aren’t taking up any space on your computer.


Downloaded: When you open a file, the icon will change to a Green Checkmark with a white circle, indicating the file was downloaded to your computer.  This is also the Default icon you will get for any file you move into your OneDrive folder.



Running low on disk space?  Just right-click on a Downloaded file and choose Free up Space



The Downloaded files will immediately clear off your computer and their status will return to Cloud Only.  Regardless of the file’s status icon, you can still move, search and even rename any file right from your File Explorer window, without once opening the browser!


Just keep in mind that anything in your OneDrive folder is now synchronized with your cloud storage – that means deleting something from your computer will also delete it from the cloud, so   instead of deleting when you run low on space, be sure to use Free up Space instead.


Files on Demand is an all-around great way to be both mobile-first and still work in the familiar desktop environment.  So rest easy, OneDrive has got you covered!


Tip written by Bill Hardison, Networking Consultant