Redirect and move Windows known folders to OneDrive

This article is for IT admins managing the OneDrive sync client in a Windows Server enterprise environment that uses Active Directory Domain Services.

There are two primary advantages of moving or redirecting Windows known folders (Desktop, Documents, Pictures, Screenshots, and Camera Roll) to OneDrive for Business for the users in your domain:

  • Your users can continue using the folders they're familiar with. They don't have to change their daily work habits to save files to OneDrive.

  • Saving files to OneDrive backs up your users' data in the cloud and gives them access to their files from any device.

For these reasons, we recommend moving or redirecting known folders to OneDrive if you're an enterprise or large organization. Small or medium businesses may also find this useful, but keep in mind you'll need some experience with Group Policy. For info about the end-user experience, see Protect your files by saving them to OneDrive.

About the Known Folder Move Group Policy objects

To use the following Group Policy objects, you need the OneDrive sync build 18.111.0603.0004 or later. You can see your build number in the About tab in OneDrive settings. Known Folder Move does not work for users syncing OneDrive files in SharePoint Server.

Important

The OneDrive Known Folder Move Group Policy objects won't work if you previously used Windows Folder Redirection Group Policy objects to redirect the Documents, Pictures, or Desktop folders to a location other than OneDrive. Remove the Windows Group Policy objects for these folders before you enable the OneDrive Group Policy objects. The OneDrive Group Policy objects won't affect the Music and Videos folders, so you can keep them redirected with the Windows Group Policy objects. For info about Windows Folder Redirection, see Deploy Folder Redirection with Offline Files.

If your organization is large and your users have a lot of files in their known folders, make sure you roll out the Group Policy objects slowly to minimize the network impact of uploading files. For users with a lot of files in their known folders, consider using the upload bandwidth policy temporarily if you would like to minimize the network impact and then disable the policy once uploads are complete.

If users have OneNote notebooks in their known folders, the known folders won't be moved. For guidance on moving OneNote notebooks to OneDrive, see Move a OneNote notebook to OneDrive.

  • Prompt users to move Windows known folders to OneDrive

    Use this policy to give the users on the device this policy is deployed to a call to action to move their Windows known folders.

    Screenshot of the dialog box that prompts users to protect their important folders

    If users dismiss the prompt, a reminder notification will appear in the activity center until they move all known folders.

    Screenshot of the notification that reminds users to protect their important folders

    If a user has already redirected their known folders to a different OneDrive account, they'll be prompted to direct the folders to the account for your organization (leaving existing files behind).

  • Silently move Windows known folders to OneDrive

    Use this policy to redirect known folders to OneDrive without any user interaction on the devices it is deployed to. Before sync client build 18.171.0823.0001, this policy redirected only empty known folders to OneDrive. Now, it redirects known folders that contain content and moves the content to OneDrive.

    Note

    You can choose to display a notification to users after their folders have been redirected.

    We recommend using this policy together with "Prompt users to move Windows known folders to OneDrive." If moving the known folders silently does not succeed (for example, if a known folder contains a OneNote notebook, a file that's too big to upload, or a file with an invalid name), users will be prompted to correct the error and continue.

    Screenshot of prompting users after silent known folder move fails

  • Prevent users from redirecting their Windows known folders to their PC

    Use this policy to force users to keep their known folders directed to OneDrive.

    Note

    Users can direct their known folders by opening OneDrive sync client settings, clicking the AutoSave tab, and then clicking Update folders.

  • Prevent users from moving their Windows known folders to OneDrive

For info about using the OneDrive Group Policy objects, see Use Group Policy to control OneDrive sync client settings.