Files On-Demand is a game changer for how you interact with your content within Office 365. Files On-Demand allows access to all of your files without using storage on your device. This means you can view all your files that you have synced without having them on your device. With this feature you don't need to change the work because you see your cloud files just like your regular files. You access these files right within your desktop and file explorer. You then have the option to sync files as you wish or by choosing to bring them offline or when you double click to open a cloud file, it will automatically download it for you.
In my opinion, this is one of the best solutions rolled out to us in a long time. I have been working with Files On-Demand for a good amount of time and here are some things that you need to know.
The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (version 16299.15 or later) is required along with OneDrive build 17.3.7064.1005 or later
If you want to utilize Files On-Demand this is a minimal requirement. That means that this will not work on things like Windows 7, 8 or Mac OS. You can upgrade to this version of Windows 10 through the standard Windows update process. Once you restart your computer you will be good to go. If you don't see it appearing automatically, you can turn it on through the OneDrive tool settings accessible in the notification area
Files On-Demand is also currently not supported if Windows Information Protection (WIP), previously known as enterprise data protection (EDP) configured on your computer
Files On-Demand works with SharePoint Online libraries
At this point Files On-Demand only works with Office 365 files within SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business. The key piece to take from this is that the OneDrive sync client and Files On-Demand will work for more than just your OneDrive for Business site but also your SharePoint Online libraries as well. These will come across with the image of the little blue buildings within the file explorer.
It is currently planned to have the new OneDrive sync client work with the next on-premises version of SharePoint Server 2019. It is unknown if this will include support for Files On-Demand.
Files On-Demand settings are unique per PC
If you work across multiple Windows PCs or get a new Windows PC your setup for Files On-Demand will not be consistent. This means that you can have a set of libraries and files synced to one PC but have a different configuration on another PC.
If a folder is marked as "Always available", files within that folder will be downloaded
There are 3 primary statuses of files with Files On-Demand; Online-only (I like to call 'cloudy'), Locally available, and Always available. Here are the details for each:
If you have a folder that is marked as Cloudy (online-only) and you mark it as Always available, then all the files within that folder will also sync to your PC.
Deleting an "Online-Only" file from explorer will fully delete it
If you have a Cloudy (online-only) file that you are viewing in file explorer and decide to delete it, it will be fully deleted. This will remove it from your OneDrive for Business site. You will still be able to restore any deleted files or folders from your OneDrive for Business recycle bin or if you deleted it locally, it will also be in your PC recycle bin. Files that are in the recycle bin within OneDrive for Business can be restored for up to 93 days.
You can move "Online-Only" files within file explorer
When you move files within your OneDrive site to different folders the file is not downloaded. If you move an online-only file to a folder outside of your OneDrive library, it will be first downloaded and then moved to the new location. This can be very handy when you are syncing both SharePoint & OneDrive sites and want to move content between the two.
You can still hide folders from syncing
Even though with Files On-Demand you can see all of your files and folders you have synced with them actually being on your device, you may still want to not see certain folders. If you don't want to see a folder on a device for let’s say privacy reasons, you can hide them through the Settings -> Choose folders options. One good example for this is if you want to not sync personal files to a work computer. As a reminder your sync settings are specific per device.
There are specific GPO admin policies available for Files On-Demand
There has been a set of available GPO policies for managing the OneDrive sync client available and they have been updated with potential capabilities for Files On-Demand. All previous GPO policies continue to work the same with Files On-Demand deployed. The 2 new GPO policies are:
- Enable OneDrive Files On-Demand
- Enabling this policy will force all users of the Windows Fall Creators update to use Files On-Demand.
- Migrate Pre-existing teamsites with OneDrive Files On-Demand
- Enabling this policy will cover existing SharePoint Online team sites from locally synced to online-only.
A full set of available OneDrive GPO policies can be found here.
For some more information from Microsoft about Files On-Demand follow this link. Happy syncing!