Taking the Next Step in Sync for OneDrive

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We want OneDrive to be the very best way for people to store and share files, photos, and documents across life and work. Over the past year we’ve seen a massive increase in OneDrive use for people who use Windows and Office both at home and work. We want to take this opportunity to share how we are thinking about delivering a great sync experience and some of the things that are coming in the next few months. We are focused on making OneDrive a great tool for you to store content, share it, and collaborate with your friends, family, and co-workers. A fundamental part of that is ensuring that OneDrive reliably and securely syncs files between the cloud and your devices. That’s why we’re building features like the ability to sync shared folders, and selective sync across all platforms.

Prior to Windows 8.1, we had two sync experiences. One used on Windows 7/8/Mac to connect to the consumer service, and a second sync engine to connect to the commercial service (OneDrive for Business). In Windows 8.1 we introduced a third sync engine that supported placeholder files, an innovative capability that lets you access all the files you have stored in OneDrive whilst only using a fraction of the local storage space. Customers who use OneDrive extensively on small devices found this feature extremely useful.

Customer feedback indicated that user actions against placeholders was an area that needed improvement in reliability. In Windows 8.1 certain apps would occasionally fail to open files that were placeholders because the app didn’t know how to issue commands to download the file, or the download would timeout due to bandwidth speed. We noticed that certain file operations (including copy, move, and delete) had a higher degree of failure when placeholders were utilized. In parallel, we learned that many customers found the feature was confusing, as it wasn’t necessarily clear which files were available online versus offline. These challenges are particularly acute for people who use both the consumer and commercial service as sync behaves differently. As a result, we knew we had to step back and rethink our approach and figure out a way to provide the features that customers liked about placeholders, without the impact on reliability, and deliver them in a comprehensible way.

It was clear that the right approach was to converge to a single sync engine and experience that would be able to provide all of the benefits of the consumer and business service to all customers faster. We decided to start with the consumer sync engine foundation from Windows 7 and Windows 8 and add the right capabilities from the other two engines. This way, we could add features once and have them benefit all customers, while also ensuring that we didn’t run into any more reliability challenges due to placeholders in Windows 8.1. We understand that having one sync engine provide a superset for all three will take time, but this is the best option to meet our core goals.

The good news is that the vast majority of our customers will only see the benefits of this approach. For those running Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, or Windows Phone – or if you use OneDrive on a Mac, Android, iPhone, or iPad – your experience continues to improve every day. We’ve released our unified OneDrive app for Windows Phone and Android and will follow up with iOS later this month. We’ve made dramatic improvements in sync reliability and performance for Windows 7, we’ll release a preview of the Mac client for OneDrive for Business later this month, and we are working to sync shared folders by the summer. For customers running Windows 8.1, we have already made changes to the way OneDrive works to automatically sync smaller OneDrive accounts.

We do recognize that some of our best customers are using the Windows 10 Technical Preview and this is where we’re actively doing the work to converge to one sync engine and as a result, no longer have the separate engine for placeholders. There are important capabilities that we need to bring to Windows 10  some will make it into the first release – including shared folders and support for the consumer and business service. However, others will come in updates that follow later in the calendar year – most notably the core capabilities of placeholders that are both reliable and comprehensible.

We know that when you decide to use OneDrive you are trusting us with your files, and we work every day to earn that trust. For those of you in the Windows Insider Program and running the Windows 10 Technical Preview, thanks for bearing with us as we make these changes and be assured that we have a clear roadmap to bring the best experience we can to you between now and the end of the year. Keep sending us your feedback and suggestions through the Windows Feedback app. If you’re not yet in the Windows Insider Program and want to help shape Windows 10, join here. For those not yet on Windows 10, thanks for your support and trust, and please continue to use our UserVoice forum to provide feedback and suggestions.

Chris Jones
Corporate Vice President, OneDrive & SharePoint

  1. – inbuilt pin password

    – remove poor hambrgr

    – bring modern UI



    • Yes, the hamburger button makes no sense. Lose it! Modern UI based on typography is much easier to read and use.

      Glad to hear shared folders sync is coming to Windows 10 though!

      • The hamburger icon is fine, it makes sense. It depicts a menu list. Modern UI very much allows and even requires iconography, it never was simply about type. A UI of only type would be limiting yourself in a box for no reason.

        Apart from pushing features out of reach to the top I’ve noticed the main source of teeth gnashing by a vocal minority is simply about the look of the hamburger icon; that it appeared on Android. Silly.

        • I agree that the hamburger makes sense. It works well as an UI indicator and has been around some time in web apps. Keep it please.

        • But the hamburger bar is really hard to reach.

    • We need placeholders

  2. Chromaniac

    I read this blog post several times and I have no idea what they are trying to convey. Are you removing smart files feature on Windows 8? Are you adding this feature to other platforms? What are you doing? And how does it affect me?

    • Same here. It’s a fantastic example of corporate drivel if nothing else.

    • What they’re saying is that they’re moving towards converging the 3 sync engines by making improvements to the syncing on existing platforms and completely replacing the sync engine in Windows 10. For the initial release of Windows 10, this means placeholders will not be available, but they plan to add the “core features” of placeholders back to Windows 10 by the end of the calendar year.

      Basically, if you stick to the OS that you’re on, everything should simply stay the same, but be a bit more reliable. If you upgrade to Windows 10 before the end of the year, however, you’ll have to live a few months without placeholders.

    • This is a HUGE problem MS! I made the mistake of upgrading my Surface Pro when I left work last night. Today I log in and start poking around in Win10, looks cool…ok…Why is it so slow though??? I thought it was the new Edge browser (might still be slow?), but NO, I finally figured it out, its because OneDrive tried to download the entire folder of my personal Photos archive that I pay $10 a month for in OneDrive. It pulled down as much as it could of the 409GB folder until my machine has 0 bytes left! I did some research and learn that they have changed offline files, but instead of adding an indicator or greying out files that are “Offline Only” to appease morons, they decide to fill my drive up with files that I had SPECIFICALLY tagged as OFFLINE ONLY!!!???

      But the worst part is that when I open the OneDrive settings to choose folders to NOT sync in order to be able to use my machine today, the option to choose “OK” is grayed out, so I can’t unselect any folders!

      And their solution is for me to search for photo names if I need to see them later (DSC_756575.jpg)? I LOVED that I could see all my offline files and my 400+GB photo collection didn’t really take up much space to be able to sort through the offline file thumbnails, it was an awesome tradeoff of access for file space, now I have NEITHER! I’m now 3 hours into my work day and trying to figure out how to revert back to Win8…Nice. Hey microsoft, since I spend $1200 a month having my company on Office365, could you maybe fix this #2 most requested issue…Please…Pretty please? MS knew this was an issue with users 8 months before public release, CRAZY!!!

  3. The biggest issue for me is not being able to use OneDrive with local account on Windows 8.1.
    The single cloud account definitely has its own pros, but the users should have a choice.

    • Peter Schott

      I had to work around this by setting up the account set up w/ my OneDrive as a separate account, moving the files to a commonly accessible location, then setting permissions on that folder to allow my local user access. It also requires that the MS account be logged in for the sync to work so I have to do that whenever I have a restart (which doesn’t happen too often). It’s kludgy, but it works. I miss the ability for local accounts to sync as well.

      • They already have the ability to have domain accounts sync with OneDrive, so the underlying tech should be there. It just seems like it was purposely disabled to force people to login with their live accounts. They also went out of their way to prevent you from using the older 7/8.0 client on 8.1, even when setting compatibility modes to pretend you are still running on 7 (it seems unlikely they hook at such as low level that you would NOT be able to run it on 8.1), so I doubt they will ever provide this feature as it seems more political than technical.

    • This right here.

      I canceled my paid OneDrive account when Win 8.1 forced me to use a MS account in WIndows to be able to use OneDrive. I’d be happy to embed my MS account credentials in a OneDrive app, but I WILL NOT use a MS account as my primary device logon.

      How am I supposed to connect to my personal OneDrive account from a work PC, or to my work OneDrive account from a personal PC? It can’t be done!

      Win 8.1 was a really big step backward for OneDrive, and it seems that this problem will persist in Win 10.

  4. Anonymous

    tldr: There was an awesome version of OneDrive from the Windows team and a bunch of ****** ones from Office. No one cares about Windows (not even here at Microsoft), so the Office team calls the shots now. Guess which version did not make it?

    • Groove didn’t make it. Live Mesh did.

  5. It looks like the take-away from this is, “placeholder files” will be available in Windows 10, but not at first… It will be added in a patch later.

    Also glad to see that shared folder sync is finally coming. This is the biggest thing keeping me from fulling diving into OneDrive.

  6. Anonymous

    Placeholder files got me into OneDrive, now i have to switch again… Goodbye and thx for nothing..

    • Unless you upgrade to Windows 10 right when it comes out, nothing changes… Why would you switch?

    • I can see you problem, you still have that function in Windows 8.1 and it will come to Windows 10, just not when it launches. You can always wait with the upgrade until they have added the placeholder function to Windows 10.

      “It will add placeholder-like functionality to OneDrive at some time in the future. But not in time for the initial release of Windows 10.”

      • *can’t

        I can NOT see your problem…

      • Placeholder-LIKE. We still don’t know what this implies. For all we know they’ll just make it so that online-only files appear in search or something like that. Which just wouldn’t be enough.

    • Didn’t you read the post? Some features like shared folders are coming with the next release (W10 consumer preview?), the functionality of placeholders is coming in an update after that later this year. The placeholder functionality will be brought in a way that gives you placeholders and more, but without the technological issues it had before.

    • I agree…placeholders on my new SP3 got me to use one drive. If that goes away, so does one drive. It’s so simple to use and works great the way it is.

    • Right? So they offered 1 TB to users and now going unlimited… who’s got enough space on their devices to completely sync a 1 TB library or .. unlimited. The WHOLE reason I spent $1800 on a surface pro with only 256GB is because I have OneDrive Pro…. such a dumb move. They just guaranteed I won’t upgrade to 10 until the placeholder feature comes back.

  7. Barry Johnson

    Rarely have so many words been used to convey so little information. To those, like myself, who thought placeholders were *the* thing that made OneDrive such an ideal cloud driver service, it seems your message could have been more succinctly put as, “go pound sand,” to use a family-friendly expression.

    • “Pound sand” is a perfect distillation of this post. Or maybe “Forget the cloud – here comes the fog.”

  8. D. Rogers

    Smart files made me go all in on the windows ecosystem. Removal of them means my money will go to someone else besides Microsoft.

    • It has not been removed from Windows 8.1, for Windows 10 it will be added later.

      “However, others will come in updates that follow later in the calendar year – most notably the core capabilities of placeholders that are both reliable and comprehensible.”

      • That does not mean placeholders will be used. Matter of fact, that means they won’t come back.

  9. Great to see that there ate plans to unify the whole Onedrive experience!

    Thanks for listening about keeping placeholders. One drive without place holders would be another Dropbox. In changing age of tablet PC like the surface pro and other models with limited on device storage… Placeholders is a must!

  10. Just Rollback and relive Mesh, this is the way.

  11. NoCLoud ForME

    In light of NSA revelations and the fact that I cannot rely on Microsoft to keep my information mine; including the fact that HDD drives are bigger than ever, I will not be doing ANY cloud storage. Furthermore, I will not do business with companies that store their customer’s information in this way. Cloud based storage and file sharing is ignorant to say the least.

    • Cloud storage is not for everyone. Nobody’s forcing you to use it, don’t get your panties in a bunch 🙂

    • Microsoft is far from being in bed with the NSA by any means, you’re blowing that so out of proportion. Ultimately though, if you’re not trying to break the law, what do you have to hide? The NSA can read my data all day long if they find it entertaining enough.

  12. Placeholder’s was the only distinctive feature of one drive. Now that it’s gone , I am out too.

    • Can you read? It’s not out. They do not remove it from Windows 8.1 and for the Windows 10 sync engine they started with the engine they had in Windows 7 and 8 meaning that they must remake it if you will so it will not be in Windows 10 from the beginning but it will come.

      “However, others will come in updates that follow later in the calendar year – most notably the core capabilities of placeholders that are both reliable and comprehensible.”

      • That does not mean placeholders will be used. Matter of fact, that means they won’t come back…only some half a s s e d attempt at appeasing. Once placeholders leave one drive, so do I, including office 365

    • I agree…once placeholders leave one drive, so do I

  13. So – I will have to move my 100 GB of photo work to a competitor for a year or so, then move it back when OneDrive is fixed. Because I’m loyal to MS. Even though they’ve totally stiffed me on this one. Ok, sounds good.

    • NONE of the competitors have placeholders either IIRC. So why exactly are you moving your files there?

      • Flickr. Just use Lightroom perpetual license. Sync Flickr sets. Cheaper than office and one drive storage in the long haul.

        Or, move to OSX. Their Photos app will be less ******** and iCloud space is cheap. It’s what I’m doing. Buying an iMac next week. iWork is good enough for me.

        Was thinking of a Surface Pro 3 but it’s not an option now. Costs too much to get larger storage on it. My currently prop has a 1 TB drive and I can just stop using a Microsoft account now and delete it since I’ve already moved all my stuff to iCloud Drive in preparation for getting my iMac.

  14. Geez, what a bunch whiny children. The article seems pretty clear to me:

    1. Placeholders AS THEY EXIST TODAY are going away.
    2. MS is committed to replacing them with something that provides the benefits of placeholders WITHOUT the problems they currently cause.
    3. Said functionality will not be in the initial release of Win10, but will come with a later update.
    4. OneDrive and OneDrive for business (currently COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PRODUCTS under the hood) will both get the same sync engine, which is exactly what MS needs to do.

    • when placeholders go away from one drive, so do I.

  15. Okay, I understand the apps not having the code to download the files. I’m guessing I thought that is where Windows would step in and do something about it. But I still don’t understand what was so **** complicated about the placeholders and why you couldn’t simply “grey out” the files that were only on the cloud (and had to be downloaded).

    Also, if this feature will not be ready until late 2015, give us the Windows 8.1 version until it is ready! Don’t piecemeal you program to us. Give us all or nothing.

  16. It seems like their problems are the difficulty of some users to identify which files are online only or available offline, the errors that occurs when apps try to access online only files and failures that might occur when manipulating the smart files.

    It also seems to me that those problems have better workarounds (for example, use different folder/file icons to represent the online/offline status) than just removing the files/placeholders, what would be much worst than “step back”, since this feature was one of the best and most useful things ever developed about cloud services (the amount of people complaining here and in the UserVoice forum is prove of that).

    I really hope that the “core features” of placeholders they say will come back will be really similar to what we experience today in Windows 8.1 (or even better, as they insist in trying to convince us). I am one of those who learned being unable of living without the smart files. Without the placeholders/smart files, OneDrive becomes just more one service among Dropbox, Google Drive, etc: more of the same.

    • “core capabilities” means placeholders will not be back. In order to have access to your one drive files on your PC you’ll have to store them locally — guaranteed

  17. Peter Whitehouse

    I hope this sync engine improves on the poor sync in Onedrive for business as well as removing the sync file limits (5k for a team site library & 20k for a user Onedrive), these are major issues for us which are stopping us selling many more Office 365 for business subscriptions.

  18. As others have noted before, this article isn’t very clear, to say the least… I’m not sure I really understand what the roadmap is for OneDrive. What I think I understand is that placeholder files will be back in Windows 10 (eventually at least), and that’s the most important thing.

    • No, placeholders will not be back … only “core capabilities” which means nothing now until we actually see it. If placeholders do not come back, neither will I come back to one drive

  19. I really like OnDrive, but what drives me nuts is that single account to use…
    So I have to stay with 3rd party tools to use it or use it in a browser…
    Why can the user not have the choice to select the Microsoft or local account ?

  20. I’m glad we can hope for a patch at least. Placeholders are the best feature over competitors.

  21. Congrats, you just killed all the small spaced devices you have been selling for months. Why promote Onedrive as a replacement for physical space when you will force all the devices to now keep a 1:1 storage of it. I don’t want GB’s of pictures and video clips on my local PC. I have been really pushing people to Onedrive for backup purposes. Onedrive should be a replacement for space, not a storage of stuff you already have on your PC. Placeholders needs to be an RTM feature.

    • You don’t need to sync every folder to your device. The placeholder functionality is coming back in an update this year like they just said, be patient.

      • I would assume by “later this year” they mean by the launch of W10 later this year. So technically you’ve never lost anything, the W10 beta is pre-release.

    • John,

      Try WebDrive for accessing your OneDrive storage. Our default mode of operation is ‘not’ to sync your entire OneDrive data store to your PC, rather we operate in a Network Drive mode; meaning that your files stay out on OneDrive until you need to access them, then they are pulled locally.

  22. That’s what I like to hear. The functionality of placeholders will return. I completely agree though, the engine must be reliable but cannot sacrifice features like placeholders. Keep up the great work guys!

  23. Hang on here… what happens to devices like the HP Stream? 32 GB storage is all you have. It’s selling point is basically placeholder files.

    I think MS should work much towards brining placeholders to the initial RTM release. Sorry, but otherwise you really do risk causing some users a big problem.

    Windows is succeeding in the low end market right now and it is important that the placeholder files are available on these devices.

  24. Microsoft should let Chirs Jones go. And not for removing placeholders (although this reason looks good enough to me), but for a total inability to communicate with the customers.

    Yes, I’m talking about this blog post full of corp speak and clichés, unstructured, terribly convoluted and failing to clearly deliver the main and important message to the most loyal fan base.


    P.S. Made me especially appreciate Building WIndows 7 and WIndows 8 blogs.

  25. Good to know, I won’t renew my Office 365 subscription

    • agree…once placeholders leave one drive, so do I …. from both one drive and office 365.

  26. Ok people, the article states in order to converge the sync engines they’re going to use the Windows 7/8 engine as a base, thereby removing placeholder files but offering more stability than the other sync engines. However, it states later they’ll add the right features from the other two sync engines, offering customers the features they want all across the board. I think that’s a really good strategy, something they should have done from the start.

    This is a great article and it offers good insight to what’s going on behind the scenes. As much as I love the placeholder concept, they provided more than adequate justification to remove it temporarily and it’s a sore spot in can accept for a while.

    • placeholders work fine, never had one problem with them. once they’re gone, so am I from one drive.

  27. This blog post is more than just a rehash of earlier statements. This time, they’re telling us exactly why they’re throwing us under the bus. And telling us to stay there because they might – maybe – do something to help us get out, at some unspecified future date.

    I don’t see anything here that I’d call a ‘commitment’ to restoring placeholders. I just see more hand-waving about delivering a great experience, and vague promises that everything will be made right, eventually.

    I moved my photo work to OneDrive because I could then view photos – and show them to friends and possible customers – on my Surface RT and even my Windows Phone. It looks like that’s going away, especially as I have little control over updates on the phone and Surface. Nothing in this blog post convinces me that I’m not going to lose that capability, or that it will be restored in a time frame short enough to matter.

    Basically, the OneDrive cloud is going away. Poof. I might as well just go back to a portable hard drive.

  28. Anonymous

    Smart files (placeholders) are going away. Instead of making OneDrive in Windows 10 work like it does in Windows 8.1, it will instead revert to the way the sync client works elsewhere. That is, it will use selective sync like it does in Windows 7 and the Mac.

    Why? Three reasons:

    1. Because many users(IDIOTS) found smart files confusing(They are ********). They would see the smart file on their PC, assume that meant the underlying file was there, and then go offline (on a plane, whatever) and discover they could not open the file. Outrage ensues(That’s a FALSE STATEMENT, that never happened to me, because I opened the file first, I’m not stupid, THEY ARE!!!).

    2. Compatibility reason. Some applications—like Adobe Lightroom—don’t work well with placeholders. (Who cares if a NON MS APPLICATION is not compatible for not being upgraded?)

    3. Reliability. Microsoft says that sync reliability was not where it needed it to be.(That’s true, you can access the OD files if the pc is booted from a usb or cd, I concede that point, that needs to be fixed)
    Resuming: What a bunch of BULL…

    • I agree totally what you write! (even you are anonymous)
      It is totally stupid practice by MS to remove the placeholders, just because some stupid users were not able to understand what this is.
      And it is totally stupid practice by MS to remove this feature first, and then to start with new development. If the IT boss in my company would act like this, he would be fired immediately.
      And it is totally not true, that all these many complaints in the different OneDrive forums about placeholders and shared folder synchronisation is new – you can read statements about shared Folders since 2012 when they called it SkyDrive.
      OK I hope MS will find nice colors or symbols for the file-Icons, what can be loved by all MS users in the world, maybe otherwise MS will cancel the whole service again after promised restart in summer (2015?)

  29. Chris Jones stated, “Over the past year we’ve seen a massive increase in OneDrive use for people who use Windows and Office both at home and work.” Windows 8.1 release date Oct 2013, (a little over a year of public consumption).
    I know that I increased my use of OneDrive because of smart files; I imagine many others did also. If you read enough of these posts, you may notice a lot similar comments like mine in regard OneDrive usage.
    Yes, some users were confused with smart files; yes, some apps did not work well with smart files. So fix those problems without killing the feature that attracted the users.
    Chris Jones and his team, instead of building on the OneDrive solution that arrived with 8.1 and brought with it “a massive increase in OneDrive usage”, decided to revert to a solution that did not see massive increase except in hard drive usage. Simultaneously making it more difficult to choose which files/folders to sync or not to sync.
    Chris Jones, how does this make any sense?
    Your post reminds me of post from Steven Sinofsky (building windows 8). First post Aug 2011.
    Chris, just so we are clear, that was not a compliment. Sinofsky was the master of ignoring beta/tech preview users. Which left us with the disaster that was Windows 8 released Oct 2012.
    Time lines. Some fact. Some prediction. A little funny but mostly sad.
    – Oct 2012 Windows 8 Massive disaster.
    – Oct 2013 Windows 8.1 fixed many issues identified in the building Windows 8 blog before Oct 2012 Windows 8 release date.
    – Oct 2014 Windows 10 technical preview (attempts to further introduce some of the fixes identified in the building windows 8 blog before the Oct 2012 Windows 8 release date)
    – Oct 2015 Windows 10 estimated release date. (this is just my best guess based on recent release history)
    – Oct 2016 Windows 10.1 will fix many issues identified in the forums like this one before the actual release of Windows 10 or was that Windows 8.
    – Oct 2017 Windows 11 tech preview (breaks awesome features that actually made it into Windows 10.1 or was that 8.1, you know like OneDrive Smart Files)
    – Oct 2018 Windows 11 released after 6 years of beta testing, turns out to be a massive disaster and the universe finally implodes.
    – Oct 2019 no new version of windows released because the universe has already imploded.

  30. Yeah, Win 8.1 sync is very buggy. Often causes problems.
    But you you have to fix it. BUT keep that perfect OneDrive feature, please.

    • Francesco

      If you have problems with a folder or some files, you can just make them available offline… dropping the placeholder feature is not a solution

  31. When will you patch (fix) Windows 8.1 so that we can use OneDrive and roaming profiles????
    This problem has been outstanding for 9 months now!!!!!!!

    • Philip Cass

      Indeed, this continues to be a thorn in my side. And it won’t let me use the legacy (win7) app either!

  32. Dear Mr. Jones,
    I am terribly sorry to inform you that this was too little too late.
    Our company opted out SharePoint because of numerous syncing problems and you are herewith addressing only a couple of them. I can enumerate at least two more really huge design flaws.
    It took people like me almost two years to inform you about such issues, starting with the announcement of SkyDrive Pro. And the end of this debacle is still not visible.
    Did it really have to go that way?
    Yours sincerely

  33. I have an Office 365 account. I have a domestic hotmail / account. So I have two onedrives. On my Windows PC, I find the domestic Onedrive functionality great but Onedrive for business lacks that functionality, so I cannot make best use of the 1TB available. This blog does not make it clear whether Onedrive for business will get the same functionality as the domestic onedrive (which might break something for Sharepoint users) or the differing functionality will still exist but will now be available from one client (as happens in the andriod), which will then be twice the size and, therefore, impact on PC performance.
    Example. I put a bunch of images in a folder on my domestic onedrive and share it with my friends with a URL. When they open the URL, get a slide show. This does not seem to be possible with Onedrive for business. Even sharing a URL with someone within the same Office 365 domain doesn’t give that functionality. So, what is it then, better functionality or bigger, clunkier code?

  34. Hi. Thanks for sharing your remarks and what onedrive’s company is expected to be going on the short-middle term.

    I would like to comment some things that i consider important as user’s experience.

    1. Desktop Application:

    Im user of Windows 7 still and I tried testing two ways of how to get permanently connected with one drive and the first one is across desktop application and as this solution is very easy to implement in my desktop, the thing that become in a pain is that what you put in ondrive’s folder spend GB in your disk locally as it spends in the cloud. So if you got a hard drive with 1.5 TB locally, as you are putting files in onedrive’s folder, the amount of disk usage is gonna be increasing as locally as in the cloud. I understand that is quite practice to have your files in your pc while they are being synchronized permanently with the cloud.

    My recommendation here (if possible and if it exists nowadays please let me know the how to-) is to evaluate the possibility of development that let the end user to choose between two possibilities: Is an option that let the end user to choose if he/she prefers install as a mirror (option 1) or if he/she prefers install application without using the local drive space. I try to mean that onedrive folder can be set up or configured in local PC as a Network Drive in order to dont use local space from hard disk. The idea of this is really to have a backup in the cloud letting you use your hard disk without the need to keep synchronized what you have in your pc as well as you have uploaded there (the cloud).

    Thank you in advance

  35. Ajai Nair

    Does this fix OneDrive for Business? I mean this is a HORRIBLE product. Doesn’t work, can’t share files, sync fails on a daily basis.

  36. Robin Wilson

    I was very disappointed when I heard about the removal of placeholders and initially found the OneDrive functionality in Windows 10 to be confusing as I was not even offered the choice of which folders to sync so the upgrade to the newer version effectively broke it.

    Now it is very unreliable where files will fail to sync for no reason at all and I keep being prompted to take action but it is not obvious what action to take – sometimes I find renaming them works.

    Due to the unreliability of the new placeholderless version I have switched to using a mapped drive which is a good way to use the full OneDrive without your storage suffering.

    It is a shame as it had finally got to the point where it was reliable before placeholders were removed.


  37. Blah blah blah. Please add placeholder functionality to Windows

  38. Please make placeholder files an option per folder at best. Or, make a modern app that works. Or a desktop explorer the weaves the offline pointers in better. They don’t work in 8.1 and I can’t figure out why it hasn’t been fixed. Sounds like too many priorities.

    If I have Unlimited storage and I turn on placeholders ill have so much **** local. That’s why a per folder enable switch is needed.

    As for a modern file explorer why is it the Hide folks can do it

  39. Please, male OneDrive the unique native file manager For Windows 10, as its name suggests, For pc’s, tablets and Phone internal memories and sd cards, future otg usb and onedrive cloud itself.

  40. Hi.
    Is there any plan to add Selective sync and Camera upload feature for ODB?
    Or Office 365 business with OD not ODB?
    ODB is terrible.

  41. I am delighted that this is going to be properly addressed. The option to download the contents of each account on a per-device basis would be incredibly helpful.

    I would greatly appreciate being able to add several accounts as options & to simply save to them as convenient. For those of us with multiple business accounts & personal this would make recommending and subsequently supporting OneDrive clients simple.

    One final note – I’d like OneDrive to save locally, then sync – rather than save to the cloud primarily. I get tired of waiting for the cloud when the process could be performed after the operation when I won’t notice it.

    Oh and before I forget – Please display links to pictures/videos/media in the Public area in the same very simple method that Photobucket does, so I can cancel the photobucket subscription – it’ll make explaining bills to my wife much simpler.

  42. Chris, It’s good to see Microsoft finally working toward a unified file access client; it’s the only way that you’ll be able to reach broad acceptance between consumer and business customers. Since many Enterprise OneDrive customers were once SMB customers were once single users, you need to maintain that unified experience and feature set across the base for long term user retention.

    A unified, transparent experience is one thing we learned early and we’ve been doing with WebDrive since it’s initial release on Windows 95 nearly 20 years ago. Our firm belief is that there must be 1 desktop drive/sync interface to access all online storage services. WebDrive does this for OneDrive, SharePoint, WebDAV, SFTP, S3, Google, Box, DropBox, and many other storage services, and does it on all supported Windows Platforms.

  43. Naoya Ikeda

    Get rid of place holder is terrible.
    This is death penalty for small storage hardware.

  44. Based on this I’ve reinstated my Dropbox Pro account and am moving everything off OneDrive. Placeholders were the key feature that made OneDrive the choice for me, made it worth living without full versioning support worthwhile. Meanwhile, syncing seems to have become very buggy and slow lately.

  45. An area where OneDrive fails compared to Dropbox is that it doesn’t sync locally shared folders you have with other people, so it’s hard to collaborate with others unless you only use apps that know about OneDrive (not classic ones that work with a folder) or involve the browser everytime you open the file. With Dropbox it’s way more easier and intuitive

  46. Anonymous

    Microsoft has no plans to listen, I have no plans to keep paying. Placeholders and onedrive was the only thing in windows 8 worth keeping. So Microsoft removes them… Sounds about right.

  47. It’s all about the $$. I have all faith that MS will deliver the goodies soon enough after the Win10 release, however with their current ‘free’ upgrade offer (open to everyone and his/her dog) they will only see revenue from new hardware purchases. Purchase decisions typically take time to get traction, so MS need to ‘start the clock’ as soon as possible, i.e. without delaying a Win10 release. The words ‘lipstick’ and ‘pig’ do spring to mind though ;-).

  48. For me is hard to understand the strategy what Chris Jones writes above on top; when MS saw, that placeholders were not appreciated by many customers; well maybe, but more – many used this feature. So a strategy just to take this away is penalty for customers by a punishing god! ‘Normally’ a developer should try to improve first and THEN replace!
    I hope MS will show up with a satisfying OneDrive sync engine soon, and I hope it will be a simple solution, just including what users want: -include shared folders. -placeholders for ‘only-online’ files (folders)

  49. Please bring the placeholder files back. It works perfectly in Windows 8.1, and it is a shame that the feature was removed because some users had trouble accessing their files. Now every user has that problem.

  50. Hasan Rahman

    Getting more and more impatient… Where is the new Mac client? Only 4 days left of January… 🙂

  51. This Sucks. OneDrive’s selective online/offline files made a small tablet like my HP Stream 7 totally usable. Now an “upgrade” to Windows 10 takes that away? You’ve got to be kidding me. The “Office” version of OneDrive always sucked. The Windows 8.1 version was almost perfect (just needed the option to sync shared folders like DropBox does). Seriously I hope you change your plans on this. In order to support Windows 8.1 you’ll have to support the server-side component anyway. Why not just leave that functionality in Windows 10 and grey out the “online only” files in order to avoid the “confusion” you seem to think existed (though reading the comments on this makes it clear that we all loved this feature, and weren’t at all confused).

    You just spent time on stage telling us how you’re taking our feedback seriously. PLEASE take this feedback seriously. This is a mistake. Period.

  52. Seriously, bring back the smart files. This was just perfect implementation for tablets. Now we can’t use our entire onedrive anymore on limited storage devices.

    SSDs aren’t cheap you know…

  53. Can you make the font color in the article darker so it not such a pain in the a** to read? What’s up with that?

  54. Great post, this was a very interesting read. I will be sharing this with my team.

  55. Gildon Opao

    My suggestion for OneDrive is for Microsoft to Return the Smart Files or Online-Mode Files. To do this you will need to add a new attribute to the existing (system, hidden, etc) known as Online-Only. This attribute will have a similar behavior to the “Hidden” attribute, meaning legacy applications will not be able to see the files that are “Online-Only”. However when implemented with Windows Store Apps using the FilePicker these files can be seen and can be treated accordingly. For developers of “Legacy” or Desktop apps would want to avail of this feature, Microsoft has to create a FilePicker that supports this in “Legacy” or Desktop Mode and developers should update their code to use this. If they don’t want to update their code then the “Online-Only” files will be treated has hidden. In this case everyone wins.

    • Great suggestion – actually update and extend the operating system to support cloud storage. Unfortunately, MS has decided that would be too much work and they’re now backing away entirely, killing the ‘placeholder’ feature they’d already implemented.

  56. I’ve been using OneDrive (SkyDrive) from the beginning and since they announced unlimited storage for Office365 subscribers I’ve been using it more and more. However I have a problem. I installed Win10TP on my Surface Pro 3 and OneDrive no longer lets me make my OneDrive files “available offline”, instead all files are on my hard drive. On my PC’s 1TB hard drive this isn’t a problem but on my Surface Pro 3 128 gb hard drive is will become a problem very soon. I know that I can select which OneDrive folders I want to sync but if there’s a file I need that is in a non-synced folder it won’t be available. I’m hoping that the OneDrive team takes another look at this changes it back in future Win10TP or at least the final version of Windows 10.

  57. Friends,

    Thanks for the blog, but I can hardly read it on my monitor. The font is light blue on a white background. I could manage with the small print and very close lines if it weren’t for the light blue font. Probably it’s not a problem for anyone else as you still have it (I haven’t looked to see if anyone else has mentioned this – too hard to read!).

    Thanks for your help,


    p.s.: I just saw someone else complaining about the font color, too. Thanks d703!

  58. I got an office subscription and with that came 1TB of onedrive storage for 5 users. These five users all have an account on my laptop.. 3 of these 5 users do not live with me all the time (divorced dad, married a second time)But they use onedrive to store stuff from different computers, so they can work on their stuff wherever they are. With the “available online only” this was great, the file was there when needed, but not occupying any space if not needed.

    Losing this option in the first version of windows 10 means that all of a sudden I need 450GB (that’s the actual use) of space on my laptop disks if I do upgrade. But it could even go up to 5TB (as that is the total onedrive space).

    No I was just wondering, upgrading will be free of charge in the first year, will this feature be back before this year ends?

  59. This is a mistake, placeholders were what differentiated OneDrive from the competition. The purpose of cloud storage is to offload precious local hard drive space and to have it easily accessible. To have to open an app or go to a website is terrible after being used to the convenience placeholders in windows explorer provided. I can’t fathom that anyone would be confused, it’s not rocket science. Maybe a modified icon showing it’s a placeholder? Anyhow I see this as OneDrive losing one of their key features and selling points.

  60. Lee Drake

    Yeah no sorry. You need to address clients for Windows 7-8.1. Saying – just wait this will all work once Windows 10 comes out is NOT an answer. The current state of OneDrive and SharePoint and the consumer product are full of not winning.

  61. Anonymous

    Going backwards was a mistake. The OneDrive team needed to build/improve upon the 8.1 version that drove one drive adoption. Especially on small foot print devices. Stub recall for archived files is nothing new and placeholders were/are very similar to archive stubs. For example The fix would have been to correct the recall or sync of the placeholder prior to the application hand off. The placeholder or stub file is significantly smaller than the actual file. A 20 or 40Mb file or a 1G file would be seen as a about a 4k or 20k placeholder on local storage. Once done with edits or viewing the file can be re-stubbed manually or on a schedule or based on connectivity

  62. Dear Microsoft,

    I just purchased an HP Stream laptop with 32gb of memory. Do you know why I purchased a machine with only 32gb of ssd space… because I could view all my “online only” placeholder files from windows explorer. I love OneDrive I use it on my phone, my desktop, and my laptop. I really want to keep using OneDrive but if placeholders go away and don’t come back in some viable form the competitive edge OneDrive had over other cloud options goes away.
    I am currently using Win10 Tech build 9926 on the HP Stream. Windows 10 is great! This summers general commercial release needs to include the ability to see “online” files within windows explorer.
    Please and thanks!

  63. It works well as an UI indicator and has been around some time in web apps . I can’t fathom that anyone would be confused, it’s not rocket science .Stub recall for archived files is nothing new and placeholders were/are very similar to archive stubs


  64. David Macêdo

    Please, Please, Please, GIVE PLACEHOLDERS BACK!!!!!!!!




    David Macêdo

  65. Is there a planned ETA to add placeholders back in? I am dying here without it.

  66. Check this link and article excerpt below. F Microsoft.

    “Over time, Microsoft also plans to address the complaints that arose late last year when it announced it was discontinuing the beloved Windows 8.1 version of the sync experience which, unique among all OneDrive sync clients, lets you browse offline-only files in addition to files you’ve synced to the PC. (And do so while the PC is offline.) No, Microsoft isn’t bringing back placeholder files. But it has a plan to sort of approximate placeholder files.

    It’s called offline files. It will debut first in the mobile clients for Android and iOS in Q3 2015, giving us a decent idea of how this feature will look and work in Windows 10 (and on Mac). As I understand it, you will be able to browse through your offline-only files in a read-only, and only when you’re online. Then you can use the selective sync mechanism to mark files and folder for offline sync.”

  67. Any news on this? I’m considering trading in my Surface 2 RT for a Surface 3. But not unless they’re going to straighten out OneDrive – by which I mean, either bring back placeholders, or give us equivalent functionality somehow.

  68. You guys are making OnedDrive for business WAY TO COMPLICATED. Here’s a very, simple layout that works as customers EXPECT. The root OneDrive is private (not shared) with TWO additional directories. A folder named ‘Shared’ that EVERYONE in the organization shares. but IS NOT SYNCed by default. Individual users can select which of the files and directories are synced with each device. A ‘Sharepoint’ folder that links to the SharePoint folders. that works like the current SharePoint

    The current method of only being able to share folders and files via Cloud SharePoint is way to complicated when most of the time you just want a something just like a shared network drive mapping. With SharePoint you have to create a site, then folders, lists, etc. While this is a nice feature, its overkill for most simple file sharing which is what customers expect. When our company moved to Office 365 we were EXPECTING OneDrive to work like a Cloud File Server but the solution is Cloud SharePoint Server. We already have a SharePoint server that we use internally that employees can access it via our VPN (which took almost a year to setup) Our users can access network file shares via the VPN as well but we needed a lightweight method that we thought that OneDrive for Business could provide. On your website for Office 365 OneDrive is described as a cloud based network file share and in addition there is an option for a Cloud SharePoint option. We don’t want or need cloud based SharePoint (nor the headache of trying to replicate what we have internally). We want cloud based network file sharing plain and simple.

    • ^^^^Exactly, well said.

  69. I’m more confused after reading this. Absolutely ridiculous, I thought Microsoft was changing for the better, but it seems they are back to there antics

  70. “There are important capabilities that we need to bring to Windows 10 – some will make it into the first release – including shared folders and support for the consumer and business service. However, others will come in updates that follow later in the calendar year – most notably the core capabilities of placeholders that are both reliable and comprehensible.”

    Lots of comments, so i’m not sure if this has been mentioned, but… MS says that “shared folders on the desktop” is something that’s important enough to get into the initial windows 10 release, or, at least important enough to implement before ‘placeholder functionality’.

    so theoretically, on July 29th–or any time between the release of “shared folders in on the desktop” and “placeholder functionality,” if I upgrade my 128GB surface 3, or 32GB Stream7, not only will they (attempt to) sync 100% of my terabyte of OneDrive storage by default, they will also (attempt to) sync 100% of the files in all the folders that have been shared with me by other onedrive users. Most of which I don’t know about, because I haven’t been able to see them on the desktop all these years, and who has the time to browse to if I use ‘selective sync’ to *not* sync those shared folders, to save local storage, I won’t see those files and folders on the desktop anyway, which defeats the entire purpose of the ‘shared folders on the desktop’ feature. right?

    so *maybe* placeholders, or their replacement, ought to come before the implementation of the long-coveted ‘shared folders on the desktop’ feature. I doubt any of the thousands of onedrive users who have ever asked Microsoft for “shared folders on the desktop” have also added “but I don’t want it unless you promise to store all those shared folders locally on my hard drive. for sure. definitely do that.”

    because I solemnly swear that I will never want or need to store my mother’s Christmas pictures locally on any windows device I own.

    placeholders, please.

  71. ********

  72. I have installed TH1 version of Windows 10, what should be the version what is officially distributed end of July. But there is still NO IMPROVEMENT of OneDrive client!?!

    Who are you Curtiss? – MS employee or just a storyteller?

  73. This is insane. Office365 comes with 1TB of space and a significant portion of users, particularly mobile users, are not going to have much more than 100GB if they even have that much. Should have just left it as an less obvious “advanced” option.

    Will definitely not be able to continue using because of this.

  74. Please consider to bring back the feature of “online only“ mode.
    It’s very annoying that I have to sync 3 times on my 3 devices for 15GB of my onedrive data. Since it’s a network driver, what is the point to have it always offline available? What is the difference then between a cloud drive and a USB harddisk?

  75. Please please MS bring back placeholders, I too am / was a happy Surface Pro 3 owner and I loved the placeholder feature of OneDrive this is exactly what cloud storage should be about seamless. Shouldn’t have to decide what to download / be able to see. You’ve actually made it more confusing now.

  76. I bought a subscription to Office 365 specifically to take advantage of the unique features of OneDrive for use with my Surface Pro 3 device. My OneDrive experience has been negatively affected since my update to Windows 10 due to the removal of smart files (placeholders). OneDrive was sold as a virtual type of drive that one need only drag, drop and forget about local storage issues. Presently, unless I sync my drive on a 1:1 basis and keep all files on this Surface Pro 3, I cannot see them as they exist on the cloud. The seamless integration between OneDrive and Microsoft devices is why I choose to purchase a Surface Pro 3 rather than a MacBook + iCloud. I am regretting my decision.

    • Jeffrey Arnold

      I did the same thing just one month ago. The main reason I decided to subscribe to O365 was for the OneDrive Space. Now when I rebuild my system I will have to wait for all the file in my OneDrive to download before I can access them. If I wanted this type of Sync I would have stayed with Box.Com. This also makes it very hard to use my OneDrive with my Surface Pro 3. Where I could set all my files online only and still access them on an individual base on my Surface that has considerably less storage space now I will not have access to all the files or I will have to dig for them in a web interface with is very cumbersome. I don’t know that this will cause me to go back to Windows 8.1 but I will be seriously thinking about my O365 subscription being continued.

  77. Just found out about the lack of placeholders in Windows 10. Looks like its back to 8.1 until this gets fixed. How difficult is it to have a toggle in advanced options to allow placeholders?

  78. I can’t believe you did that without a SINGLE WARNING during the update to Windows 10! Rolling back to 8.1 hoping you didn’t screw too much. Already noticing that a bunch of files are GONE.
    What a fail! The guy who decided that should be fired

  79. Anonymous

    So will they turn off this feature? I use windows 8.1 to access my onedrive, while I am using windows 10 most of the time. Will I have to stick to windows 8.1 forever? Will they stop us using this feature?
    On my tablet there is 16gb of storage space, minus the system. So I can not use onedrive in windows 10.
    My laptop has around 256 gb minus programs and system, but I will not give over 100~gb to onedive. My one drive is almost entirely in smart files, I just keep the most needed documents on the ssd.
    What solutions are there? I imagine that not using a cloud service and storing everything on a portable disk is an option, but a big step backwards.

  80. Paul Calderon

    You done the new version in a very wrong way, maybe you need to listen all the people needs some features back.

    You remove the offline/online option for specific files, besides you need to select a complete folder eating unnecesary disk space, this is ******. I was able to organize all my pictures (about 5000) without to download all of them, just moving the offline files, now, I need to organize in web (so slow and bad) or download all files if I have disk space, move the files I need, and wait a lot to sync again.

    Is incredible all the noise about new Windows 10, but for this simple features I am compelled to downgrade to Windows 8.1 again in all my devices. So bad….

    You should listen a little more to your users from inside program.

  81. OneDrive now SUCKS in WIndows 10. Wish I hadn’t upgraded.

  82. Dominic Tessmer

    So this has completely screwed over my workflow! I cannot afford to buy a gigantic SSD for my single bay laptop and using an external drive to sync with kind of defeats the purpose of using the cloud to begin with doesn’t it? As a customer who PAYS for my One Drive storage needs I expect it to continue to work as it did in Windows 8.1 and if I had KNOWN this was going to happen I would not have upgraded to windows 10 AT ALL. All you have done is made it very hard to use properly. If I wanted to keep all my data on the PC I WOULDNT BE USING CLOUD STORAGE. God the more I think and talk about this the angrier I get. At least make it a option for advance users to use if they want to!!

  83. I absolutely love the smart files/placeholders. I love having my OneDrive look the same on my laptop and Surface while choosing how much space each device uses. I was never confused. I upgraded my Surface 3 to Windows 10 yesterday. But, I think I might be a hold out when my company goes to Windows 10….which will be relatively soon since we are a SI.

  84. Mike Craig

    Won’t be moving to Win 10 till you fix what you just broke by removing placeholders and Onedrive integration with File Explorer. Thank god I saw a pal going through agony as Win 10 looked like it had ‘disappeared’ his Onedrive folders. He found them eventually via the web version, but it totally f*cked his workflow and he reverted to 8.1 before the end of the day, where it still works, I’m pleased to say.

    I have a netbook and laptop with 32 & 64 gb respectively, and simply would not be able to use them as I do currently – which is seamlessly and easily skipping between off & online versions using File Explorer – if I moved to Win !0.

    Let us know when you fix it, and I’ll move, because the rest of it looks great.

  85. Mike Craig

    By the way, I don’t give toss about shared folders on the desktop. Never needed ’em, don’t want ’em. We share info via Onenote.

  86. I didn’t spot that ‘placeholder’ files was not in the first release of Windows 10.


    Overall I am loving Windows 10 but this is a MAJOR problem for me. I have an Office 365 subscription and have been using more than 1TB of space for my files and some videos and other media. This worked Great in Windows 8.1 as I could download (‘make available offline’) to the small disk on my laptop when at home on a high bandwidth connection and keep them with me on my travels. When I got back home they would re-sync and I could download alternative files for my next trip. This is now difficult or almost impossible!

    What a shame to spoil such a great ship as Window 10 for this ‘hapeth’ of tar :-(((((((((

  87. Windows 10 is great. Removing OneDrive placeholders is awful – it was such a great feature for power users working between multiple devices often with limited storage. Simple solution: give people an option to turn it back on and leave it off as default for everyone else. Just make it a setting.

  88. I was not a beta tester, and had no idea the rollback of OneDrive functionality was happening. I would have never even imagined that anyone at Microsoft could have been so incredibly crazy as to remove the integration from 8.1. It was the sole reason why I chose OneDrive other other cloud storage services. So I upgraded to Windows 10, and BAM. OneDrive is dead to me.

    Now, I am left with a large amount of data (including many large and important files that I rely on) that I can only access through a web browser. Trying to go in and rearrange and organize files and folders is incredibly painful compared to the way it used to be.

    I do not buy the explanations I’ve read on the subject. So there were some programs that had trouble accessing them. So a few people supposedly didn’t understand them. Those are not remotely sufficient excuses for removing the entire functionality. I suspect there are other agendas at work, and those are just cop-outs.

    This was an incredibly terrible change for anyone who trusted you enough to use OneDrive for their personal files. Almost everything else about Windows 10 is either great, or acceptable. This change, however, is so bad and has such a negative impact on my personal experience that I am very tempted to roll back to 8.1, and will strongly warn anyone who uses OneDrive about what they will lose by going to Windows 10.

    • Agree, agree, agree. Window 10 integration with Onedrive is HORRIBLE! I need to completely rethink whether or not Onedrive is the cloud service I’ll use. What a horrible decision.

  89. I don’t believe that anyone like Chris Jones could get to that position at Microsoft by being stupid. So I can only conclude that they had goals for Business or other OS’s that don’t include the “placeholder” functionality, looked at the size of their current “home” or “consumer” user base, knew they were going to royally screw us over, and decided to do it because individual users of OneDrive were a small enough group to sacrifice.

    So those of us who were naive enough to be early adopters of this cloud service you were pushing so heavily have been monumentally punished for trusting you. Lesson learned. From now on, I will always hold back from any Microsoft product or service until it has been fully established for a significant period of time. You have lost my trust.

    Apple is bad in many ways, but this is something they would never do. And if they made this kind of unbelievably bad decision, as soon as they saw the user response, they would revert the change in a matter of days. The fact that OneDrive users are now being asked to trust that some kind of solution will come along months from now, with the prospect that the functionality will never be fully restored, and having our usage of the service crippled during that period of time, is incredible.

  90. Dear Microsoft,

    I really like your new OS. Windows 10 is great, but I don’t understand how am I going to synchronise my Onedrive files now that I don’t have any way to make those files online only as I did with Win8.1.
    I’m not going to waste my bandwidth during weeks, or months, just to download all the files that I have (and I don’t actually have any reason to copy them onto my computer) from my 1TB Office 360 account…
    Doesn’t make sense at all, even more when I only have Internet tethered from my mobile and not from any broadband connection.
    Can you see my point here? It doesn’t make any sense at all.

    Thanks Microsoft. Hope you fix this situation.

  91. Bring back the offline and online only features of one-drive!

  92. Come on MS. This is not acceptable and you wiped all my files from my Surface Pro 3. On win10 you ask me to download them back and took away the smart copies. If I want to open a presentation from the cloud in power point (MS app) I just cannot open it anymore. I think it was not called out when I upgraded to Win10 and will sue Microsoft.

  93. Ditto! How frustrating. I am not a power user or anything so trying to go back to 8.1 is likely out for me, but in the meantime, I am stuck with a lack of functionality. I was an early SP2 user and a very early SP3 user…this is the thanks we get for trying to be early adapters?!??? Arghhh,.

  94. Bring Back Placeholders??? How can you be so stupid to drop a functionality that made OneDrive unique against the competence?

  95. This blog post was put out in January. It is now August and nothing has improved in OneDrive for Windows 10. I now have to explain to Grandma that all her files in her OneDrive are still there but she wont be able to see them unless she syncs them to her 64GB tablet. Then, when the replacement for smart files comes out in who knows how long, I’ll have to explain to her that all her stuff is back without having to sync it to her local device. That should be pretty easy seeing as how Grandma understands the cloud and how file syncing works.

  96. this has made it impossible for me to use Windows 10 on my Surface Pro 3. I have more than 128 GB of files in my onedrive, and I need acccess to them all. Becuase of the removal of smart files I cannot have access to all my files on my Surface unless I stay with Windows 8.1

  97. After installing WX I found out that all my OneDrive files were missing. I was so devastated that I could not speak for a few moments until checking online and discovering that none of the files were missing, it is just that WX does not show them. So I went to check some forums to find out how to make them visible again and found myself here (and some other similar sites).
    So what? Like WHAAAAAAT? I was a major proprietor of OneDrive and promoted it among those I know for the broad integration. And all is taken away now. Yes. Online and offline files both showing might have been confusing for some, but that is like banning motorcycles for the greater number of accidents compared to cars. Why can’t I decide if I want to see online files also???
    So what can be done to get a so vastly integrated solution again?
    Wasn’t the current CEO of MS responsible for all cloud-based services before? How does he take this action in parallel with his legacy?
    It has got to be some kind of a joke. I hope it is. Killing the best feature of W8. Nonsense.

  98. Patrick G

    What a shame…. MY surface pro is now useless. How do I get reimburse, Microsoft ? Explin it to me, how could you be so junior in managing this? How could you frustrate millions of users, just to have a better “onedrive engine” between windows versions !?!?! This is a clear lack of customer respect. You could have managed that way differently and manage your delivery planning like professionals….

  99. With so much advertising on mobile devices, surface and so on, how can you seriously remove placeholders ???? that’s a joke ??? you removed THE key features that mades you preferable over others, now you are juste useless ….

  100. Daniel Bordeleau

    That is REALLY BAD!!! At least let the user choose if they want to see the placeholders or not! I was never confusing for me and never had any trouble with other applications opening those files! MAJOR Drawback for Widnows 10

  101. Clifton Willis

    Ok. So, I never write on blogs or leave comments for that matter, but this change to the placeholders warranted such an action. I’m really devastated this feature has disappeared in windows 10. I’m practically speechless, but there was one word that came out of my mouth. Do you want to know what the first comment was that came out of my mouth? “That is stupid”. I agree with everyone else the whole reason why onedrive was so cool was that I didn’t have to sync all of my files. I could see what was in my onedrive without logging in through the internet. It wastes time. There is no reason to remove such a feature. ugh. I’m so disappointed right now its not even funny. Do you know what the first thing was that I did when I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t see my onedrive files on my windows 10 surface pro 3 was? I looked all over the internet to try and find some hopes of how to correct this issue, Ha I even asked Cortana. And not even two minutes after I read this blog do you know what I did? I looked all over the internet on how to downgrade back to windows 8.1 since I deleted my back up when I installed windows 10. I asked Cortana that too. So cheers. I hope this is corrected. If it’s not I wont upgrade. I can keep using Google Now for my voice enabled questions.

  102. Somebody fill me in here. Why is not showing your not-synced data on the cloud a good idea ? I must be missing something essential here on usage of cloud storage.

    I select the things I need to go to be synced. The other stuff is always online and is supposed to be so. That is also why I buy this $300 Surface docking station. To work at home on my ever connected dock/laptop/pc/whatever. The stuff I need on the road should be synced and this should not at all be the entire content of my multi terabyte Onedrive MS so eagerly offers to everyone who buys a $1 app.

    Get the placeholders back please ! Or get every Windows user a free SSD to come together with every GB of cloud storage offered.

    Why does Microsoft always seem to ruin the good working parts ?
    Keep you mind on the essential Redmond.

    +15 years MCSE/MCITP/(again)MCSE (nuf said about the MS change management policy here ?)

  103. So I hear MS excuse for this move but what I do not hear is why MS would not add a “power user” setting for us that:

    1. Do not have the HDD space for all our files
    2. Need access to all our files cause our lives are dynamic and never know when we might want to access ANY of our files

    It is this simple. MS screwed up! There was ZERO due-diligence involved. The power-user feature should have been a no brainer based on one simple fact: MS IS OFFERING 1 TB OF STORAGE but your Surface Tablets only come with a max 500GB HDD.

    How freaking STUPID is that!

  104. Nick McClure

    I appreciate the desire to improve on the technology, however, as a person that used smart files/placeholders constantly, I can’t upgrade to windows 10. I’d love to hear a more specific timeline on brining this feature, or at least something like this feature back.

  105. Onedrive has become useless to me. I just bought my first Windows tablet, and how annoyed and dissapointed I am to find this out. How the **** am I supposed to put my big Onedrive file on my tablet without completely filling it’s storage space up, one day after I got it. I has been one big annoyance so far, Windows 10+Onedrive

  106. Allan Rafuse

    A few issues I have with the removal of smart files is:
    -Pictures I taken with my phone now have to be synced to all my devices. With Windows 10, I no longer Sync or see my OneDrive Pictures folder.
    -File Save/As functionality does not show me my entire OneDrive tree. I have to save the file to a completely synced copy of a directory.

    This is a huge step backwards for the Microsoft ecosystem. Bring back smart files.

  107. Allan Rafuse

    A few issues I have with the removal of smart files is:
    -Pictures I taken with my phone now have to be synced to all my devices. With Windows 10, I no longer Sync or see my OneDrive Pictures folder.
    -File Save/As functionality does not show me my entire OneDrive tree. I have to save the file to a completely synced copy of a directory.

    This is a huge step backwards for the Microsoft ecosystem. Bring back smart files.

  108. Bring back OneDrive Placeholders, current systems will remain on Windows 8.1 until this is fixed.

    This is why i and million others prefered OneDrive over other cloud services like Dropbox.

  109. Want a reason why I don’t have a Windows 10 Tablet. This is it.

    I can not waste space on a table for items I have on OneDrive. That’s why I have OneDrive. We need a better timeline. It’s been 7.5 months and we’ve seen/heard nothing.

  110. Wake up everyone! The reason it’s been 7 months is that Microsoft doesn’t want to and won’t fix it.

  111. terrible decision by the OneDrive team. Placeholders where a fantastic feature, now how can I access my multiple GB photo/video folder if it is not online. Isn’t stupid to think that I’ll sync 1TB+ of data I have in my OneD with my HD? Please re-think your strategy.

  112. It isn’t so much that the great feature available in Onedrive for Windows 8.1 are gone (well, ok yes it is awful and they absolutely need to fix these) – its that Microsoft can’t make up their mind. Every new issue something, and don’t confuse differnt from better. Improvements I get, and usually like, but removing functionality is not better – it inherently is worse for someone. In this latest Win10 onedrive “improvements” are worse, much worse – and honestly, the changes represent arrogance in telling me I don’t know what I want or what I like.

    Apple rarely takes stuff away – they make stuff better.

    Please correct the errant mistake.

  113. Evan Osterweil

    I am much less productive using a 128GB Surface Pro 3 on Windows 10 without placeholders. I was very hesitant in purchasing a 128GB laptop in the first place as my older, cheaper laptop had 500gb of storage. I can’t even attach a file directly from File Explorer! I have to go to OneDrive and download it first to my desktop. I’m better off on my old $500 Toshiba laptop with 500gb running Windows 7 with Outlook 2010 than I am today!!!! Great Job Microsoft!

  114. Paul Davies

    Please guys bring back placeholders ASAP. They were an intuitive genius feature for the modern low capacity flash drive devices. Made heaps of sense and all my family understood them instantly. Real poit of difference over any other Cloud interface. It would be madness to lose them!

  115. Wojciech Kozlinski

    The onedrive offline mode was the main reason i by office365, and leave dropbox.

    Now on my ultrabook that have only 128ssd I can’t have possibility to see what I have in onedrive because i have to switch to not synchronize. On my second computer I will stay with 8,1 until you fix this BUG!!!!!!!!

    I demand as your customer to bring back onedrive – online only option !!!!!!!!!!!!

  116. How about this: Because you removed Offline mode, I’ve left OneDrive. I’m back to using DropBox.

    I have a 256GB solid state drive and almost 800GB of cloud storage in use. I’m sure I’m not the only one – as these comments indicate. This was a severely moronic decision.

  117. Ok – so I get it will take some time to fix you mistakes, here’s one more – not being able to select the onedrive location on my local device; once again another feature removed that was wanted and used.

    Would some one please tell me HOW I am supposed to use Onedrive in Win 10? I really can’t figure it out.

  118. Marclonus

    I still think that place-holders in OneDrive should come back in Windows 10. Surely Microsoft employs smart people that could find a work around the fact that not so smart people get confused with online-offline mode? Removing feature is not cool for my hard drive space. I have a billion pictures that I did not need to store on both my machine and my OneDrive account. What’s the point in having OneDrive now? I have duplicates. Everything is duplicated. Stored twice. double the data. That is so not cloud!

    So Chris Jones; your are a VP, just make this happen dude!

    • Assuming the above statement is actually read. Microsoft is making it clear what they are doing. However, the job is much bigger in scope of merging three engines(actually core capabilities) into one which seems to escape or just being ignored by some of the comments being made here but on top the merging, extending features that will work for both consumer and business(which maybe more unique) is going to take some time.

      At the same time, they are working on mobile that will use these capabilities as well which will soon be out which must be figured into this time frame for Onedrive as well. For both consumer and business merging requires the software engineers to build in security which may cause a delay before Onedrive actually get updated. I am not so sure of this merging of both business and consumer into one engine is a good idea.

      Because of the experience with IE which was delayed being updated like the other browsers the same issues may occur with Onedrive where businesses may refuse the updating and changes which may cause or bring into question security issues that may concern them. There is no need to replicate the same issues that occurred on another platform that took many years before the decision was made to build a separate browser which is logical and sensible.

      Microsoft should keep enterprise and consumers separate wherever possible and not merge because they are two separate entities regardless of arguments. Yet, both rely on the Trust build up over the years with Microsoft who must not bring this into a concern of questionable judgment. It comes down to flexibility and maintaining high security.

  119. Thank you for removing the most useful option on onedrive…

    I will back to dropbox or google drive again!……..

    Once again Microsoft knows how to make people happy…. introducing those nice….. “improvements”!!!!
    Be the first person to mark this helpful

  120. Yes, the placeholders had problems…but they could be dealt with…now I’m stuck using Windows 10 on a laptop that doesn’t have enough space to hold my Onedrive, so I have no explorer access to my files in Windows 10? This sucks.

  121. Andy Zangle

    This poor choice to deprecate placeholders will force me to consider alternate products. When I have files that I need only need to access infrequently and am limited in by available disk space that feature was the perfect answer.

    I agree that you need to merge the 3 different engines – just keep the features!!!

  122. Sassan Knight

    My favorite feature that a rave about is now gone!!!

  123. This SUCKs, f the lame users, give me power to control online/offline.

  124. Updated to windows 10 and found the feature i use EVERY DAY is gone. Shear stupidity. Now i need to down grade my PC or dump onedrive. THANK YOU MS!!! (for nothing)

  125. CARLO venancio dos santos sousa

    Is very dificult to synchronize

  126. Please MS, give back the online/offline feature for files! My Drive C is getting full! I want some of the files only in online mode! If this will not be changed i will look for another program! 🙁

  127. bill smith

    team onedrive continues two great MSFT traditions–taking what should be a great service/feature and implementing it just poorly enough to make it TOTALLY USELESS and then breaking it even further updates.

  128. Chris Castaneda

    Microsoft, I’ve been selling the OneDrive/Office365/Win8.1/Smartfile idea to everyone. Such a great combo, can’t think of a time when I have been so Pro Microsoft. BUT now you have gone and taken out such a good feature (OneDrive placeholders/smartfiles). I won’t be upgrading to Windows 10 or pitching this idea any longer. Ah, so frustrating, now I have to find a different product.


  129. Well, it is fine now, that we can synchronize shared OneDrive files, when one has editing rights on theses files.
    Great thanks to Microsoft for this Feature – finally!!
    But there are many more improvements to be done:
    – synchronize also shared files with read only rights.
    – placeholders for online-only files
    – incremental update for big files, e.g. media files when ‘only’ tag Information has changed.
    – transparent directory structure for synchronized shared files. e.g. Directory for every user who Shares files ‘with me’.

    and PLEASE! : MS adininistrators, give Feedback on the many user-Feedback Forums!

  130. I am really ticked that the online only files feature was removed from the Windows 10 version of onedrive. I understand if the default was to make files available offline to alleviate the problems you mention. But let me pose a simple and rhetorical question. How do you expect purchasers of one drive storage either directly or through purchasing office 365 to use their allotment if they don’t have a 1 TB hard drive?

    I like to store my photos on google photos (for unlimited storage, cool slideshows, and animations), and one drive (for the native size)long story long between my wife and me, we are now running out of physical space on our local drive.

    Please bring back online only files.

  131. Please bring me Online only placeholder in Onedrive@Windows 10!!!

  132. OK – it’s now late October and still no sign of a fix and, unless I’ve missed something, no further communication. This has ****** off countless MS customers many of whom will have already ditched Onedrive/Win10 as a result. It’s not just that the feature was removed without any option way before the replacement was feature complete, it’s the complete lack of communication about what’s being done about it.

    Why not just remove by default but provide the option to install the 8.1 engine for users who opt in. It’s clear this caught MS by surprise, but to parrot someone above, whoever made this decision should probably not be making any future ones – it’s so out of sync with the customer base and has harmed MS immeasurably. I alone have reverted two Win 10 PCs (my own) and blocked another 10-15 at work due to this. When you can’t sell a free OS, you are REALLY in trouble,

  133. I can not believe I am not able to access my files from the file explorer without HAVING to sync parent folders! Please fix this, because that feels like an absolute downgrade for me — a downgrade that I won’t take. Will I have to go back to Windows 8? You decide, Microsoft.


    We need Place Holders back!!!!

    Just bought a Surface Book with 128GB of storage, same as my original Surface Pro, migrating to my Surface Pro was extremely easy and now migrating to Surface Book without the placeholders to allow me to select offline files is horrible. Considering returning my Surface Book without this feature in Windows 10 I would need a 1tb surface book which I am not prepared to buy. Basically makes this device useless as a laptop. I tested and previewed Windows 10 before but had not realized they made this change until getting my surface book. Microsoft needs to hear the feed back and bring back place holders!

    This makes One Drive no different than drop box or all the others. I am going to move my data to Google Drive until Microsoft brings back Place Holders! I suggest everyone else does the same to catch Microsoft attention and get them to bring back the best feature of One Drive.

    The excuse that they will remove a feature until their engineers could make it better because it was confusing users or could utilize too much space if you get have unlimited or over a terabyte of storage is ridiculous. You have engineers you have a problem, and your solution is to remove it instead of fixing it or enhancing it!! Here are some tips:

    1: Allow it to be enabled in some setting for power users and make us agree to the potential issues, data used as place holders may have issues opening from certain apps. Place holders use X percent of the actual data so if you have 500GB or it could start taking significant space from your drive.

    2. Allow users to select certain folders that don’t need to have place holders in your system, I have ISO folders or folders with other large files that probably take the majority of space on my one drive, I have no problem unselecting those to show up on my explorer.

  135. Paulo Avelar

    We have exactly 2 months left in this calendar year. Hopefully you guys are cooking something up, but I really doubt it. I understand that the vast majority of users do not understand, rely and even notice placeholders, but those users are not the kind of users that read product blogs, comment on the internet or even voice feelings towards tech things.
    That said, it seems Microsoft asked power users to bear with them and test W10 and in return took away a great feature because “it did not fit”. This is a lazy decision. Anyway, Microsoft was in such a comfort zone that underfeaturing OneDrive was OK. Problem is, now it’s just as good as any other, except it’s slower than Dropbox.
    And placeholders are just the biggest rock we notice. As soon as it gets out of the way, many others will take its place:
    1. Upload details: it should say more than “uploading 10 files, 10MB/20MB”.
    2. Built-in sharing options: instead of opening the browser, maybe build something that doesn’t require a browser.

    • Ivan Uthus

      Yes, Now its one month left of the calendar year, are you guys up to something? Win 10 is always reminding me that I should upgrade, and thats quite annoying..

      Ivan Uthus

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  145. Any update on when placeholders will come back? It’s nearly the end of the year!! I’ve been very disappointed with Windows 10 compared to Windows 8.1. Aside from several bugs in Windows 10 that I deal with on a daily basis and aren’t getting addressed (grrrr), key functionality like placeholders was removed with no real sense of when we can expect to see it again!

  146. Placeholders? What’s up? When are they coming back?

  147. Czy ktoś z Microsoftu czyta te komentarze?

  148. It’s 2016, I’m on Windows 10, placeholders? no, never heard of it. **** shame.

  149. Still disappointed with OneDrive downgrade from Windows 8.1. No placeholders is an absolute pain. I upgraded recently 2 computers from 8.1 and wasted hours and GBs of data usage trying to get things right again with my 300GB or so OneDrive content. I have a Surface Book now and don’t have the capacity locally so picked some folders which always feels limiting. I’m only here commenting because my Surface Book just “lost” it’s OneDrive settings and I had to reconfigure it again. There is lots of people commenting on Windows Feedback and the “Learn More” link led here. A year later… Where is placeholders, where is the improved sync reliability, where is the unified OneDrive for Business and Consumer engine? I can’t even resize the folder select dialog to see all my folders!

  150. Okay Microsoft. You’ve had your year of torturing us with a lack of placeholders, so where are they??? For the life of me, I can’t figure out what Windows 10 brings to the table. A Start Menu? Who cares. I actually miss my old Start Screen in Windows 8.1. As far as I can see, I’ve only lost features, not gained any. Top of the list is, of course, is the lack of OneDrive placeholder files which has neutered my Surface Pro. Time to step up MS.

  151. Place Holder

    Please give us back the file/folder Placeholders, pls pls pls.

  152. We are still waiting for a feature tat has been working perfectly in the past

  153. Well.. it’s over a year now and I am still waiting for “Placeholder” feature – this was Onedrive differentiator…

  154. Michael Russo

    Reading this now in Feb 2016 is pretty funny. A promised feature of Placeholders coming back “soon” was a bit of a lie.

  155. Yes, about time for an update

  156. Bring back placeholders. Did you think we would forget?

    • Completely agreed…..

  157. As the IT manager at a school where teachers use W10 tablet PCs with small SSD disks and an Office subscription with 1 TB online storage I can only say… where are the placeholders???? One year and (almost) a half passed since this post, and I think that my understanding of the “soon” word is different than yours 😛

  158. It is ludicrous that all this time has passed and OneDrive is still as crippled as it is. I truly hope heads are rolling at Microsoft over this. The OneDrive team proved to be one of the weakest links at Microsoft. If they were a “startup” they would be considered a failure. Meanwhile, and GDrive and even DropBox continue to run circles around the folks at Microsoft. Truly…. fire the OneDrive team.

  159. (more) My boss recently did a TeamViewer meeting and I got to see what tools he used. (Team Viewer vs Lync/Skype For Business…. that’s a different topic). Of course, DropBox was right there on his desktop as his tool of choice. I see it everywhere. Why? Oh. Yeah.
    Again, OneDrive team needs to be fired. Very, very badly fired.

  160. Just my two cents….

    When Windows 10 launched I was super exited to upgrade because of new features, stability and I did. Unfortunately I had to rollback to Windows 8.1 about 4 times since I couldn’t compromise so much storage on my newly acquired ssd drive laptop as ONEDRIVE wanted me to sync folders I wanted to have available. This made me furious since I got to witness the boost of speed Windows 10 gave the computer, but really didn’t wan’t to throw away my precious storage. A year after, Dropbox has announce what It seems to be Microsoft’s Onedrive old placeholder copycat, this is good and bad in a way. Good because some people that need storage without compromising their computers will be able to have it and bad because Microsoft might have lost a chance to win some of competitors clients which normally do Sync only.

    Placeholders are very much network shortcuts and in reality they aren’t much useful for some, but for many including myself it helps me attain: less used storage on my computer, more organized file system (keep clutter elsewhere) and mobility (access files anywhere).

    Microsoft, listen up, here’s Dropbox (competitor) announcement:

  161. So… How are the placeholders coming? 🙂

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