Microsoft OneDrive Placeholders Make Triumphant Return To Windows 10 With On-Demand Sync

Storage space is precious, and that's especially true if you've ditched your hard drive in favor of a less capacious (but awesomely faster) solid state drive. With everything from games to high resolution photos and videos taking up larger chunks of storage, it's easy to fill up a drive. To make matters worse, it was a real bummer when Microsoft ditched its Placeholders feature for OneDrive in Windows 10—ack! Ah, but we have good news, folks! Microsoft is bringing Placeholders back, just under a new name.

Don't know what Placeholders are? It was a feature of OneDrive that was available in Windows 8. What it did was give you a glimpse of your OneDrive files on your local drive, only they weren't really there, not in their entirety. Instead there were Placeholders that took up far less space. The full files would only be downloaded when you opened them. Assuming you had a reliable Internet connection, this meant seeing your files locally while letting Microsoft bear the burden of actually storing them, at least until you needed them.

On-Demand Sync

That feature disappeared with Windows 10 (Microsoft said it was confusing to users), but it looks as though it's coming back. Max Melcher, a consultant at Alegri International Services in Munich, Germany, and a specialist in SharePoint technologies, posted a picture (shown above) to Twitter of Microsoft demonstrating the feature's return at its Ignite conference. It appears to be just as you might remember it, only now Microsoft is calling the feature On-Demand Sync. Groovy!

What Microsoft's demo shows is On-Demand Sync reducing over 9GB worth of files and documents to less than 3MB. The OneDrive setup pictured has over 5,400 files spread across 131 folders, though rather than have all that data sit on a local drive taking up valuable space, it all resides almost in their collectively entirely in the cloud, save for the icons and small amount of data that instructs OneDrive to fetch the file when a user opens it.

If you're not keen on the idea of having your files stored only online, you can download files and folders for offline viewing. In other words, Microsoft isn't forcing the convenience down anyone's throat.

That said, it's not entirely clear when On-Demand Sync will be available to OneDrive users. Microsoft didn't offer up a release date, though many of its announcements were tied to Redstone 2, the first of two major updates to Windows 10 that are due out next year. This could be one of them.