Microsoft OneDrive users now have a new option for backing up critical folders and files.

Currently rolling out to OneDrive on Windows, the service's folder protection lets you add your documents, desktop, and pictures folders to OneDrive. Any files contained in those folders will be backed up to your online storage and synced to other computers and devices running OneDrive. As such, you'll be able to access those folders and files from anywhere.

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Microsoft OneDrive is a handy way for Windows users to back up, sync, and share folders and files. Until now, Microsoft required you to move any folders and files you wanted to back up into a special OneDrive folder on your computer. The new folder protection feature removes this limitation to some degree as it supports your desktop, pictures, and documents folders in their default locations.

Folder protection had already been available for OneDrive for Business users; now it's starting to hit OneDrive personal accounts. The feature is just kicking off for personal accounts, so you may need to wait a bit before it pops up on your computer.

When the feature is ready, you'll see a prompt to set up folder protection, according to Microsoft. Just click the prompt to get started. If you miss the prompt, you're still in luck. Right-click the OneDrive icon in the Windows system tray and select Settings. Click the Auto Save tab. If folder protection is available, you'll see a new section to Protect your important folders. Click the button to Update folders. By default, Desktop, Pictures, and Documents will be included in the back up. Deselect any folders you want to exclude. Click the button to Start protection. You can now close the OneDrive window while the folders are being backed up.

There are some caveats. Folder protection won't back up certain files such as Microsoft Outlook PSTs and Microsoft OneNote files that aren't already stored in OneDrive. You can't sync files larger than 20GB. The folders themselves also must be in their default locations for the backup to work. Microsoft's support page on folder protection offers further details on how to set it up and fix potential problems.

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  1. OneDrive's new folder protection feature can now back up and sync important folders.
  2. The new feature lets you back up your desktop, documents, and pictures folders without moving them from their default locations.

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Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books - "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time" and "Teach Yourself VISUALLY LinkedIn."