Too much OneDrive

If you’ve received an email from Microsoft informing you you’re over your OneDrive Storage Limit, your first question was probably, “How did that happen?”

I can probably answer that, and I can certainly show you how to fix it.

First things first

Maybe your first question was, “What is OneDrive?”

OneDrive is Microsoft’s secure cloud storage service. If you have Windows 10, Office 365, or Office 2016/2013, you have OneDrive. As Microsoft says:

OneDrive is pre-installed on Windows 10, enabling your documents and photos to be saved to OneDrive automatically.

That’s the good news and the bad news all rolled into OneDrive.

You receive storage space in the OneDrive cloud for free. It’s not unlimited storage space, however. So, if you’ve received an email about running out of storage, you can either buy more OneDrive Storage to solve the problem, or you can rearrange things so that most of your files are stored on your PC.

If you just want to buy more storage, click on the link in that email. Microsoft makes it pretty easy to buy more Microsoft stuff!

If you want to solve the problem another way, read on.

Where are you saving your documents and pictures?

You might not have realized Windows 10 and modern versions of Microsoft Office are set up to save documents and pictures to OneDrive by default.

That’s useful if you’re using a tablet or laptop with limited storage. That’s also useful if you intend to save a document somewhere available to you when you’re not sitting in front of your computer.

Some people want to store things only on their computer. Others want to do that most of the time but not all the time. Microsoft gives us a choice. I’ll show you how to tell Windows and Office where YOU want things saved.

Start by telling Windows where you want to save your stuff all or most of the time. This is the Default Save Location.

  • Click on Start | Settings | System | Storage
  • Look for Save Locations and change to This PC

If you’re running Windows 10 Creators Update, the path is slightly different:

  • Click on Start | Settings | System | Storage | Change where new content is saved
  • Make changes in whatever categories you want to This PC

Anything new will be saved to the locations you specified. If you have files on your OneDrive that you want on your PC instead, you’ll need to move them from OneDrive to your new location. (If you have stuff saved to OneDrive that you don’t need to keep at all, delete them from OneDrive and empty the OneDrive Recycle Bin.)

Make sure Office knows what you want

Office 365/Office 2016/Office 2013 try to use OneDrive as the default save location. We want Office and Windows both to be clear where YOU want things. Check the settings in Word to see if they match up with your intentions, and adjust as necessary.

  • Open a Word document or create a new one. 
  • Click on File | Options | Save
  • Make sure there is a check mark in the box for Save to computer by default

It’s worth repeating the process for Excel and PowerPoint to make sure those settings agree.

One more place to check

Finally, make sure OneDrive is on board with this process. 

  • Right-click on the OneDrive icon in the Taskbar (You might need to click on the ^ to display the OneDrive icon. It looks like a cloud)
  • Click on Settings | Autosave
  • Check or change the settings to This PC Only
  • Click OK

But what if I want to save to OneDrive? Do I have to go through that every time?

Absolutely not. You can save wherever you want!

What we’ve done is tell everybody we want to save to the computer MOST OF THE TIME. You can save your stuff to OneDrive any time you like (if you have space there) by choosing Save As when you’re ready to save a file, and then navigating to the appropriate folder on your OneDrive.

Not every computer or person using a computer is the same. When I’m in my office, 99 per cent of the time I want to save what I’m doing to the computer.

So, my default save location for everything is my PC. But when I use the laptop that I take with me to customers, I rarely want to save anything to that computer. The default location there is OneDrive. 

How about you? Are you using OneDrive? Did you realize you were using OneDrive?


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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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