What is Selective Sync for SkyDrive?

Microsoft just announced an update that brings a long clamored-for feature to its SkyDrive desktop programs: selective folder syncing. The way the feature works could prove a little confusing, however, so let’s take a quick look at how SkyDrive’s new selection syncing works.

Any files or folders you put in your SkyDrive still get synced with the great big server in the sky; selective syncing simply allows you to choose which folders will appear on the specific computer you’re using. For example, if your SkyDrive is a jumbled mix of vacation videos, family pictures and business documents, you could use selective sync to only download the work-related folders (and subfolders) on your business PC. Your various PCs can be configured to sync different folders, so while your business PC focuses on work, a secondary “pleasure” laptop can focus on play-related folders full of music files and family pictures.

The SkyDrive-stored folders you choose not to sync to your PC are still safe in the cloud and available for browsing through SkyDrive’s web client. The brief video below does a terrific job of outlining the whole process.

You’ll need to dive into the SkyDrive desktop program’s Settings menu to find the new selective syncing options. If you’re running Windows 8, note that the SkyDrive app is a different entity from the SkyDrive desktop program; they’re two separate pieces of software. Even if you activate selective syncing on the desktop program, those settings do not affect the Windows 8 SkyDrive app whatsoever.

Microsoft says that all SkyDrive users should see the update that adds selective syncing within two days. The cloud service’s Android and Windows Phone 8 apps are also being updated to add a few new features, which you can read all about on the Windows Blog.