How to use Known Folder Move feature on OneDrive

Windows offers some default folders where you can save your documents, images, including the Desktop. Now, its pretty common practice that we keep saving critical files and folders to these locations, but we never take backup. As a result, when something goes wrong like drives getting corrupted or a complete crash of the system, we lose all the files. Despite warning from IT admins or even at home, we keep neglecting it. The good news is that OneDrive is rolling out a new feature – Known Folder Move – that will enforce users to move all these folders to the cloud. In this guide, let’s learn how to use Known Folder Move feature on OneDrive. This works on Windows 10/8/7 computer.

Known Folder Move (KFM) on OneDrive

The feature is primarily designed to help Windows users move their docs, desktop, and pictures into OneDrive to enable them to organize their most important files and access them across different applications.

OneDrive

All the user content is automatically synced to Microsoft’s cloud storage without disrupting productivity.

There is nothing a user needs to do to prepare for this change. Once rolled out (anticipate rollout completion by late July) the user could move content from the Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders to OneDrive via a single dedicated button. All his files will be in the same familiar Windows “Known Folders”.

Known Folder Move (KFM) for OneDrive

Then, with KFM configured he will view the folders redirecting to OneDrive (circled in red). As you can see from the image above, Downloads folder will not be moved to OneDrive. The feature would also use OneDrive Files on Demand capability, where icons would become visible to the user beside each folder. The cloud icon signifies it’s only in OneDrive, the green tick shows it remains on the device itself (as well as in OneDrive).

An additional benefit Known Folder Move (KFM) for OneDrive offers is that if you are an IT Admin, you can automate this task by using Group Policy. You can deploy a group policy to users in your organization to encourage them to perform KFM operations.

How to use Known Folder Move feature on OneDrive

Imagine these as folders which are on your PC, but are synced to cloud i.e. OneDrive.  That doesn’t sound new right? If you use OneDrive seriously, it already offers the option to sync Desktop, Documents, and Photos folder. However, its left on users choice if they would like to sync. KFM is kind of forced by IT admins to make sure all the important files and access them across different applications on the employee’s PC are safe. It helps you move your docs, desktop, and pictures into OneDrive. Even the Screenshots and Camera Roll folders are included when the Picture folder has opted into KFM.

KFM Folders to OneDrive

Transfer files to OneDrive with KFM

Eligible end users can get to the KFM experience when they notice and click on one of the KFM toast notifications visible or navigate via OneDrive settings to AutoSave option and then, choose Update folders section.

When enabled, The KFM experience begins and does a brief scan for any unsupported files.

The scan, when completed displays all files supported and confirms that the user now has access to the option to move the desired folders to OneDrive.

Apart from the end users, Microsoft has something to offer for IT administrators also. For instance, IT admins get two additional options for their users, including

Silent redirection of Windows known folders to OneDrive makes it possible to move data to OneDrive without any notification sent to users when the process is complete. Please note that If you disable or do not configure this setting, the “Set up protection of important folders” window won’t appear automatically for your users. When this policy is set with the notification flag, the end user will see a toast bearing the message as shown in the image below.

Preventing users from redirecting the Windows known folders – This setting forces user to keep his Documents, Pictures, and Desktop folders directed to OneDrive. When enabled, the “Stop protecting” button in the “Set up protection of important folders” window will be turned off or disabled, and users will see an error message flashing on their screen if they try to stop syncing a known folder. If you disable or choose to not configure this setting, users can choose to redirect their known folders back to their PC.

You can use group policies alongside any other group policies including Silent Account Configuration but make sure if you are setting policies, it does not create a conflict.

Known Folder Move works with the OneDrive desktop app on Windows 10, Windows 8 and Windows 7. It’s been announced for OneDrive for Business users, but there’s news that the company is also testing it with a small subset of OneDrive personal users.

How does it work

IT admins can deploy a group policy to users in their organizations (details at the end) to keep encouraging them to perform KFM. In the end, it will be the end-user choice, but a constant reminder will draw enough of their attention. Once enabled eligible end users can get to the KFM experience if they click on one of the KFM toast notifications or in OneDrive settings > AutoSave > Update folders.

How to use Known Folder Move feature on OneDrive

 

One thing you should know, that KFM doesn’t move folders to OneDrive; It’s a simple redirection. Along with this, it also leverages OneDrive Files on Demand which is signified by a green tick which means is available on both PC and OneDrive. This is very similar to how OneDrive works for even regular users.

Once users click on the Protect these folders, it will directly take you to Auto Save Settings of OneDrive where you can select the Document, Photos and Desktop folders, and you are set.  The setup experience will also auto-select some of the predefined folders which you can see in the screenshot below.

Setting Up Folder Protection with KFM

Known Folder Move Group Policy Settings for IT Admins

You will need to configure three Group Policies here:

  • Enable the policy “Prevent users from moving their Windows known folder to Onedrive” and select “Leave them” under options.
  • Enable the policy “Prevent users from redirecting their Windows known folder to their PC”
  • Enable the policy “Silent redirect Windows known folder to OneDrive”

All these can be found in Group Policy Editor > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > OneDrive

Prevent users from moving their Windows known folder to Onedrive

If you enable these settings, users won’t be prompted with the ‘setup protection of important folders’. You should choose these options to choose what happens if users have already moved known folders.

Prevent users from redirecting their Windows known folders

When IT admin chooses this setting, it forces users to keep their Documents, Pictures, and Desktop folders directed to OneDrive.  Once enabled, the “Stop protecting” button in the “Set up protection of important folders” window will be disabled and users will receive an error if they try to stop syncing a known folder. However, if If you disable or do not configure this setting, users can choose to redirect their known folders back to their PC.

Silently redirect Windows known folders to OneDrive

Coming back to the IT admin part, there are few settings you can configure for KFM when you deploy through Group Policy. It will let you redirect your users’ Documents, Picture, and Desktop folders to OneDrive without user interaction. However, this policy works when all known folders are empty, and on folders redirected to a different OneDrive account. Microsoft recommends using this policy together with “Prompt users to move Windows known folders to OneDrive.”

It’s best to apply this when you are setting up new PC. Once enabled, future releases will automatically redirect and content within them will be moved.

For more details, you may visit techcommunity.microsoft.com.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.