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Windows 11 is now automatically enabling OneDrive folder backup without asking permission

The Microsoft OneDrive Logo

Microsoft has made OneDrive slightly more annoying for Windows 11 users. Quietly and without any announcement, the company changed Windows 11's initial setup so that it could turn on the automatic folder backup without asking for it.

Now, those setting up a new Windows computer the way Microsoft wants them to (in other words, connected to the internet and signed into a Microsoft account) will get to their desktops with OneDrive already syncing stuff from folders like Desktop Pictures, Documents, Music, and Videos. Depending on how much is stored there, you might end up with a desktop and other folders filled to the brim with shortcuts to various stuff right after finishing a clean Windows installation.

Automatic folder backup in OneDrive is a very useful feature when used properly and when the user deliberately enables it. However, Microsoft decided that sending a few notification prompts to enable folder backup was not enough, so it just turned the feature on without asking anybody or even letting users know about it, resulting in a flood of Reddit posts about users complaining about what the hell are those green checkmarks next to files and shortcuts on their desktops.

If you do not want your computer to back up everything on your desktop or other folders, here is how to turn the feature off (you can also set up Windows 11 in offline mode):

  1. Right-click the OneDrive icon in the tray area, click the settings icon and then press Settings.
  2. Go to the "Sync and Backup" tab and click "Manage backup."
  3. Turn off all the folders you do not want to back up in OneDrive and confirm the changes.
  4. If you have an older OneDrive version with the classic tabbed interface, go to the Backup tab and click Manage Backup > Stop backup > Stop backup.

Microsoft is no stranger to shady tricks with its software and operating system. Several months ago, we noticed that OneDrive would not let you close it without you explaining the reason first (Microsoft later reverted that stupid change). A similar thing was also spotted in the Edge browser, with Microsoft asking users why they downloaded Chrome.

As a reminder, you can always just uninstall OneDrive and call it a day.

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