I have ~300GB of photos and other data, stored on an external hard drive, that I want to put on my onedrive account. As an Office365 customer I have 1TB of storage available.

I have the Onedrive app installed on my desktop and I can see the Onedrive folder in Windows Explorer. However it's just a folder on my local drive rather than a mounted remote drive - so when I attempt to copy into the Onedrive folder I am told there's not enough space - and there isn't - I have only 100GB locally.

How can I upload a large data set to onedrive without having to cache on local machine in the Onedrive sync folder? I tried via the web upload but nothing seems to happen - I suspect is too large for uploading over the web.

  • How about a little at a time – vssher Dec 30 '19 at 20:50

You can make a symbolic link in your Onedrive folder and point to the folder you need to upload on your external drive. The following steps should work:
1. Open command prompt
2. Change to your Onedrive folder
3. Run command mklink /D data F:/your/folder/to/upload
This way you'll have a data folder in your onedrive folder, but the data folder is just a symbolic link and it doesn't take any space.
I strongly suggest you keep your external drive connected while the onedrive app is running. I'm not sure what happens when the app sees a broken link

Symbolic link is common in Linux system, not that common on Windows, but it can be very useful in cases like this.

Further reading at NTFS symbolic link

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  • Thanks David. That does work - however 2 issues: 1) I don't want my ext drive connected all the time but the real deal breaker is 2) onedrive can't handle files with parenthesis "(" in them - and the whole sync fails! wft?? So I need to find another backup solution. – Richard100 Dec 31 '19 at 9:59
  • @Richard100 1) you don’t need to have the external drive connected all the time. Just make sure that you don’t run the one drive app when the external drive is not connected. 2) I just did a test with OneDrive iOS app, I could use parentheses in file names. Not sure about the desktop app though. – David Dai Dec 31 '19 at 10:05

For transferring large files or lots of files, you could use the OneDrive desktop app, rather than the using the Upload button on the website or copying the files locally to the OneDrive folder.

See the post Fix problems uploading files on the OneDrive website.

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