This story has been updated. It was originally published on July 10, 2019.
Disk space is always valuable – especially since we accumulate more and more photos every year – so take every opportunity to free up as much as possible. All the popular cloud storage services allow you to free local storage on your computer, keeping files safe in the Internet – and use them relatively easily.
It may be a bit confusing at first, but here’s what happens: OneDrive, iCloud, Dropbox, and Google Drive are designed to keep two identical folders, one on your computer and one in the cloud, in sync by default. When you change something on your laptop, it changes in the cloud, and vice versa. If you have these programs installed on multiple computers, the changes apply to everyone. This will allow you to access files from any device.
If you do not have enough hard disk space to store everything, you can configure some folders so that they are only online. In other words, they live only in the cloud. If you need these files or to re-sync your computer and cloud, you will need to re-download the folders only online.
Cloud storage and sync apps can also automatically control which files are stored locally, in addition to the ability to select manually. In some cases, you can only save the folder online, but the hard drives for these files will still appear on your hard drive. As soon as you try to open them, they are downloaded from the cloud and synchronized normally.
All of these services also have web interfaces. You can log in and view your files on any computer with a web browser and internet connection, regardless of whether you sync the files also locally. In some cases, internet access may be all you need.
Cloud storage is only possible thanks to the speed of modern internet connections, and this means you can maintain a balance between accessing files and freeing up hard drive space on your computer. Read on to find out more about how it works in OneDrive, iCloud, Dropbox and Google Drive.
How to save space with OneDrive
If you use OneDrive in Windows, the folders on your computer and in the cloud will sync by default. You can also create files only online to save space in local storage. If you need them, you can reload them with a few clicks, but it’s not something you often want to do with large files.
Right-click the OneDrive (cloud) icon in the notification area of the Windows taskbar, and then select Help and settings and open Settings way. Check the box Save space and download files as you use them to enable a feature only online called Files On-Demand.
You can have up to three file designations in OneDrive: online-only files (showing a blue cloud icon in File Explorer) that are stored in the cloud but open normally as long as you have an Internet connection; locally available files (green check mark in white circle) that you recently opened, but which will only be available online as you fill your hard drive; and locally saved files (white tick in the green circle) that remain on your computer no matter what.
OneDrive will handle some of this automatically (such as downloading files when you open them), but you can also manually specify which of these three categories a file or folder should be in by right-clicking in File Explorer and selecting Always stay on this device.
How to save space with iCloud
Apple has two different storage systems: iCloud and iCloud Drive. The first syncs information on your Mac devices, including music and videos purchased from the iTunes Store, contacts, calendars, and images. The second, iCloud Drive, is Apple’s version of OneDrive or Dropbox, in which you can store any kind of files or folders, sync them between devices and share them.
To see how much of your iCloud storage you use on your Mac, open the file Apple menu and then select About this Macand switch to Storage way. Click on Manageand you will be able to start transferring files from your local hard drive while keeping them easily accessible from iCloud online.
Pad Recommendationsyou will see a Store in iCloud title. Click on Store in iCloud button, and you’ll be able to transfer all high-resolution photos and videos to the cloud, leaving only smaller, optimized versions on your Mac. You can also move all your messages to the cloud instead of storing them locally.
Click Optimize under Optimize storage to delete any local iTunes movies and TV shows that are on your Mac marked as viewed (you can always download them again if you need to). You also have the option to choose which email attachments you download to your Mac, which can save local storage.
Finally, open up iCloud Drive tab and select Open iCloud settings. If you choose Options next to iCloud Drive and tick Mac storage optimization macOS will start cleaning your hard drive of old files that you haven’t opened for a while if you start running out of space. These files will not disappear from iCloud and can always be downloaded again.
How to save space with Dropbox
Dropbox offers two ways to store files in the cloud and on your hard drive until you need them. The first is electoral synchronization and is available to both free and paid users. Just open the Dropbox settings panel on your computer and then tap Sync and Electoral synchronization to begin.
If you see all the folders that are currently stored in your Dropbox, uncheck it, and the associated folder will not be downloaded or synced to your laptop – it will be located exclusively in the cloud and on any other computers you use. Dropbox with. If you want to save it locally and start syncing changes to it again, you’ll need to go back to that screen and check the folder box again.
Then there’s Smart Sync, which is only available to Dropbox paying customers. It works similarly to selective syncing, only it’s more automatic – it allows you to move some folders from your computer, but placeholders still appear on your hard drive, and files can be downloaded as needed. Changes will still be synced between your computer and the cloud.
In the Dropbox settings, tap Sync and select On for Smart Sync, if you want Dropbox to automatically create files online if they haven’t been edited in months. If you want to do this manually, right-click any folder in Dropbox in File Explorer or Finder, and then select Smart sync and Online only.
How to save space with Google Drive
On Google Drive, you choose which folders you want to store both on your computer and in the cloud, and which you want just in the cloud. If you use Google Drive on multiple computers, you can store different folders on different devices (although folders will only be synced if they are stored both locally and in the cloud). If you have a free account, you’ll have backup and sync, but if you have a paid Workspace account, you can use Google Drive for your desktop – it’s like Smart Sync Dropbox.
To select your folders in your free account, open the Google Backup and Sync settings screen, then switch to Google Drive way. To sync everything between Google Drive in the cloud and local Google Drive folders on your computer, check Sync everything to My Drive.
To make some folders online only, check Sync only these folders window, then deselect the folders whose local copies you do not need. Your files will be safe in the cloud, but if you need to edit them, you will need to return to this screen and download them again or download them directly from the Google Drive website (which may take some time with larger files and folders ). With Google Drive for your computer, you can choose to have your files streamed from the cloud (they won’t exist on your hard drive) or mirrored (physical copies will exist on your Drive and computers). To sync folders from your computer, click on the Disk icon in the menu bar and then on gear iconand then Benefits. Then select the option for your computer and click Add a folder to start syncing.
As for what files to store, imagine that the cloud is your basement – a place where you store things you don’t want to throw away but wouldn’t want to have in the middle of your living room. Therefore, it is better to create old files and folders only on the Internet – those for which you want to keep backups, but should not regularly access, for example, photos and videos from vacation. Any files that you always need access to, even if you don’t have an Internet connection, should be stored locally.