Make OneDrive Exclude Folder from Sync – No Files Deleted

If you are seeking for solutions to stop OneDrive from syncing specific folders, you can refer to this post to catch the best answer. And you can master a more flexible way to sync folders to OneDrive.


By Clytze Updated on November 1, 2022

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User case


How do I exclude files from OneDrive sync?

I have a problem with OneDrive. Windows automatically set the Desktop and Documents folders as OneDrive folders, not allowing them to be split apart. I want to be able to exclude certain files from OneDrive. I know there is the option to choose the folders to not sync, but I want the opposite action. I want the files to be only on my PC but not in OneDrive. I cannot just choose another location because the particular files I want to ignore require to be in the Documents folder. I have searched everywhere and could not find any solution. From what I have seen, it seems like it is not possible to do this action.

- Question from Microsoft Community

Can OneDrive stop syncing folder without deleting files?

Will you wondering, “How do I exclude files from OneDrive sync?” from your OneDrive folder and not let them sync to the cloud only saving them on your local computer? Unfortunately, this is not possible if those files or folders are in the backup location of OneDrive. That is one of the shortcomings of OneDrive.

OneDrive folder selection only allows you to select what syncs from OneDrive to your machine. You cannot add any files or folders to your OneDrive folder without it syncing to the cloud. Files you don't want to sync in OneDrive must be removed from synced Documents, Desktop, Pictures and/or OneDrive folders. But if these folders generate new content, it will be synced to OneDrive again. Thus the problem of how to remove folders from OneDrive but keep on PC can be a tricky task.

Steps to exclude folder from OneDrive sync to local computer

If you want to unsync folder from OneDrive to your local computer, you can specify which folders you want to sync. The purpose is to make the folder inaccessible on your computer, but keep it in your OneDrive account. You can follow the steps to manage OneDrive backup folders to uncheck the folder and make it not to sync.

1. Select the white or blue OneDrive cloud icon in the Windows taskbar. Select SettingsAccount tab, and then select Choose folders.

2. In the Sync your OneDrive files to this PC dialog box, uncheck any folders you do not want to sync to your computer and select OK.

Choose Folders

You should note that if you uncheck a folder you are syncing from OneDrive cloud to your computer, the folder will be removed locally. The folder and its contents will still be available online.

How to unsync folder from OneDrive

If you want the opposite effect - to keep the specified folder on your computer, but not let it sync to OneDrive, this is not a feature that exists. You cannot exclude a local file or folder from syncing to the cloud if it is located within a syncing system folder such as Documents.

If you have a file/folder in OneDrive that you no longer want to store in the cloud but for which you do want to maintain a local copy on your PC, you'll need to move it out of the OneDrive folder before you delete it.

1. Open File Explorer. Switch to OneDrive in the left panel. Navigate to the file or folder you want to exclude from sync.

2. Use right-click copy option, or Press CTRL + C to make a copy.

3. Navigate to where you want to save the local copy. Right-click the blank space and tab paste, or press CTRL + V into its new location.

4. Go back to OneDrive in the left-hand panel of File Explorer and delete the original file. Thus, the specific files or folders you do not want to sync to OneDrive will only save on your local PC.

Best way to sync wanted folders to OneDrive with AOMEI Backupper

OneDrive can help you automatically sync Documents, Desktop, and Pictures, and any files modified on your computer can be synced to the cloud, and vice versa. However, it only allows you to select folders to be synced from OneDrive to your local computer, and choosing not to sync subfolders under fixed folders is not supported. That could be so irritating. In this case, a free file sync tool namely AOMEI Backupper Standard can eliminate your worries, which can provide you with a more flexible way to sync local folders to OneDrive. You can have an overview of its outstanding features:

✐ You can use the Sync feature to sync files from PC to cloud drives like OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, SugarSync, hubiC, and Cloudme.
✐ Besides sync feature, it also provides you with integral backup and restore utility, which allows you to automatic backup Windows 11 to OneDrive
✐ Except for cloud drives, you still can sync folders to external hard drives, USB flash drives, SD cards, NAS devices, etc.
✐ It has high compatibility that all Windows PC operating systems like Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP are supported. You can try AOMEI Backupper Server if you are using Server computers.

Follow the detailed steps below to sync specific local folders to OneDrive with AOMEI Backupper:

1. Get this freeware downloaded and installed on your current PC. Once you open it, click Sync in the left panel then click Basic Sync.

Download FreewareWin11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

File Sync

NOTE: In addition to Basic Sync, there are other 3 sync types for you to choose: Real-Time Sync, Mirror Sync, Two-Way Sync, you can upgrade to AOMEI Backupper Professional version to enjoy them.

2. Click Add Folder to choose only your wanted files or folders to sync to OneDrive. To sync multiple folders at once, click the “+” icon after you add the first source folder.

Add Folder

3. Click the inverted triangle and Select a cloud drive. And in the pop-up window, choose OneDrive as the target path.

Select a Cloud Drive

Select OneDrive

❂ You can enable Schedule Sync option to sync folder to OneDrive at a frequency for daily, weekly, monthly. Or you can also choose Event triggers and USB plug in if you upgrade to the Professional version.

Schedule Settings General

4. Click Start Sync to complete this sync task easily.

Save files/folders to a larger OneDrive alternative cloud

OneDrive indeed is a useful tool to help manage files or folders. However, as we all know, the biggest drawback is the limited free storage space and you can only store more files if you charge for it. Optionally, you can try the Cloud Backup feature in AOMEI Backupper to backup files to AOMEI Cloud, which offers you free 1TB storage 15 days after you sign up for an AOMEI account.


Wrapping things up

The above contents shows how you can make OneDrive exclude folder from sync. There is a way for you to select folders download from OneDrive to local PC, but stop syncing subfolders under a fixed sync folder to OneDrive can be a tricky task. But don’t worry, you can apply to the recommended best file sync tool AOMEI Backupper in this post to realize your needs. It offers you schedule sync, email notification, encryption and other powerful features.

In addition to sync and backup function, it also offers you numerous utilities such as Create bootable media, which allows you make Windows 11 boot from USB.

Clytze · Editor
Clytze, an editor at AOMEI Technology, is passionate about safeguarding your digital world. She dedicates her expertise to empower users like you in data security and recovery. She firmly believes that everyone should have the tools and knowledge to protect their digital assets through computer backup, seamless disk cloning, and efficient file synchronization. Clytze is your trusted guide on the journey to data safety.