What is Selective Sync for SkyDrive?

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Microsoft just announced an update that brings a long clamored-for feature to its SkyDrive desktop programs: selective folder syncing. The way the feature works could prove a little confusing, however, so let's take a quick look at how SkyDrive's new selection syncing works.

Any files or folders you put in your SkyDrive still get synced with the great big server in the sky; selective syncing simply allows you to choose which folders will appear on the specific computer you're using. For example, if your SkyDrive is a jumbled mix of vacation videos, family pictures and business documents, you could use selective sync to only download the work-related folders (and subfolders) on your business PC. Your various PCs can be configured to sync different folders, so while your business PC focuses on work, a secondary "pleasure" laptop can focus on play-related folders full of music files and family pictures.

The SkyDrive-stored folders you choose not to sync to your PC are still safe in the cloud and available for browsing through SkyDrive's web client. The brief video below does a terrific job of outlining the whole process.

You'll need to dive into the SkyDrive desktop program's Settings menu to find the new selective syncing options. If you're running Windows 8, note that the SkyDrive app is a different entity from the SkyDrive desktop program; they're two separate pieces of software. Even if you activate selective syncing on the desktop program, those settings do not affect the Windows 8 SkyDrive app whatsoever.

Microsoft says that all SkyDrive users should see the update that adds selective syncing within two days. The cloud service's Android and Windows Phone 8 apps are also being updated to add a few new features, which you can read all about on the Windows Blog.


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  • bob price Says:

    If it actually means "copy" then I might try it. But "sync" can be a disaster. I had a sync program some time ago with files like, "taxes2007, taxes2008, taxes2009". etc. I moved them off the synced hard drive folder to another location, and later, checked the synced folder. Gone! The program truly synced "matched" the folders, so when files were removed, the synced folder deleted them.

  • Moe Says:

    I know! same here, its very annoying of Microsoft!

    end of the week, many files has been changed, added or deleted.
    I have to pretty much delete all from Skydrive and re-upload them again.

    It's just another system copy from everybody else, they're never creative and always makes your life harder and annoying

  • Paul Says:

    In reply to the above, no it does not sync from PC to Skydrive as files are modified (if anyone finds out otherwise please say). Instead the 'sync' they clam is about selecting which files you want to be automatically downloaded from Skydrive to the PC app Skydrive Folder. I have to drag and drop a copy of a file every time its modified into the app's Skydrive Folder. Its a big limitation for me and bugs me, like a lot of computer software it just falls short of what it promises, to my frustration.

  • Warren Says:

    I can't find answers to the following questions:

    Does Selective Sync enable me to determine which files on my computer are automatically copied to SkyDrive whenever I change those files?

    If so, can I be sure SkyDrive won't copy (sync) in the other direction if the version in SkyDrive is updated more recently than that on my computer (e.g., placed there from a different computer)?

    In general, I'm nervous about the term "sync" as apposed to "copy" or "backup" as sync implies two-way synchronization.

    I use CrashPlan for full computer automated backup, which works very well. But its support for browser-based file retrieval to any computer (not one with CrashPlan installed) is not good. I'm looking for a service that will automatically copy/backup/upload selected files/folders (just my most-commonly used files, not my entire PC) to the cloud and make those files easily available via a browser from any computer without having to install any app on such computer. I can access SkyDrive from any computer and easily download selected files (that part works), but how do I get it to automatically upload (to SkyDrive) selected files/folders as I make changes to them? Does Selective Sync do that for me?


  • RolandD Says:

    I've been doing selective sync using Google Docs and Syncdocs for two years now.
    Good to see Microsoft finally catching up.

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