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Office 365 Document Saving Defaulting to OneDrive Next Month

Microsoft plans to change the default Office 365 document-saving behavior and have it default to OneDrive and OneDrive for Business folder locations, starting as early as next month.

The new save behavior for Office 365 users will save Excel, PowerPoint and Word files directly to folders in the OneDrive cloud storage service. This default policy will be in effect for both Windows and Mac users starting sometime in February, according to Microsoft's Jan. 25 announcement.

The change is being made to make it "easier for you to get your files into the cloud," Microsoft's announcement explained. Office 365 end users, though, will still have an option to choose a different folder from the default locations, and they can also set a particular folder as a default location by right-clicking on it, according to a response within Microsoft's announcement by Ben Schorr, a senior content developer on the modern assistance and support experience team at Microsoft.

IT pros, on the other hand, won't be able to alter this Office 365 default save behavior. A Microsoft spokesperson explained this point in a Monday e-mail in response to questions:

IT admins will not have control over the save dialog. That said, end users can change their default save location for Office programs. Office programs will save files in the default location, but the default working folder can be changed. To then save the copy in a different location, the end user can click a different folder in the folder list.

The new save policy change won't alter IT pro-created Office 365 settings. The spokesperson said that "admin configurations and organization policies will not be overwritten."

If OneDrive storage is limited or file sizes are too large to be saved to the default OneDrive cloud storage space, then end users can select a different location from the default one, according to the spokesperson.  

"The goal of the new default save location is to make it easier to save to the cloud," the spokesperson said. "But if the file exceeds a user's OneDrive storage limitations, they can select a different location to save the file from the dropdown."

Microsoft already has a "Known Folder Move" feature that syncs files and gives users the ability to control whether those files are stored locally on a PC or in the cloud (that is, in Microsoft's datacenters) or in both locations. Given that, I asked why the new default save policy was needed for Office 365 users. Here's the explanation, per the spokesperson:

This is an easy way to ensure files are saved and protected in the cloud at the time of file creation. Additionally, if a document is created and saved in OneDrive, the user can take advantage of collaboration features like co-authoring.

It's not wholly clear if the new policy is associated with Microsoft's flawed Oct. 2 release of Windows 10 version 1809. The operating system was recalled by Microsoft after some users experienced data losses. Microsoft later attributed the problem to a "Known Folder Redirection" feature that had deleted folders containing unmoved files. The issue apparently was fixed with the Nov. 13, 2018 rerelease of Windows 10 version 1809.

Microsoft worked with the people who said they had lost files via help at its retail stores, but it's unclear if those file recovery attempts were successful. Perhaps the new Office 365 save policy, which compels files to be saved to Microsoft's datacenters first, is aiming to avoid such issues in the future, although Microsoft didn't confirm that notion.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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