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PC space saver: Automatically send old files to OneDrive

Storage Sense and OneDrive team up.

Matt Elliott/CNET

Last year, Windows 10 ($149 at Amazon) added the space-saving ability to send local files to OneDrive with the Files On-Demand feature. With it, you can right-click on a file you have stored on your PC and move it to OneDrive. The file gets uploaded but leaves behind a placeholder in File Explorer, which you can click to download and open it. 

It's a useful feature, especially for Windows 10 users with laptops that are short on storage, but it requires you to initiate the upload. With Windows 10 October 2018 Update, you can automate this process.

Storage Sense and OneDrive

Storage Sense isn't a new feature, but it has a new OneDrive option that can keep recent files on your PC and older files in the cloud. Storage Sense's original mission was automatically deleting unused temporary files and files that have been in the recycle bin for more than 30 days. Useful, to be sure, but with Windows 10 October 2018 Update, Storage Sense broadens its scope beyond temp files and the recycle bin. It can now be set to scan your PC's entire hard drive and upload files you haven't touched in a day or two months.

Go to Settings > System > Storage and toggle on Storage Sense.

Next, click Change how we free up space automatically, scroll down to the OneDrive section and, for Content will become online-only if not opened for more than, choose a choose a time period: 1 day, 14 days, 30 days or 60 days.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Local vs. cloud

When files are uploaded to OneDrive, placeholders are left behind inFile Explorer so you can still easily access them. You'll see three different icons for OneDrive files in the Status column:

  • Blue cloud: Online-only file
  • Green checkmark in white circle: Locally stored file that might revert back to online when you run short on space
  • White checkmark in green circle: Locally stored file that will stay put, no matter how short on space you get

Learn how to set up OneDrive Files On-Demand.

Read more: Windows 10 October 2018 Update: The 7 best new features