I wish Microsoft would stop marketing OneDrive as a backup solution. It is not. It is a file synchronization service. And there subtle, yet incredibly important, differences between synchronization services and backup services.

The purpose of file synchronization is to enable multiple devices to use the same files. e.g. You have the same files on your desktop, laptop and phone. The purpose of backup is for recovery. e.g. You have multiple copies of your files stored, and if they get inappropriately changed or destroyed, you restore them from backup.

File synchronization, even with versioning on, does not help you recover a file you didn’t know disappeared a few years ago. OneDrive keeps (last I checked) 25 versions of a file. If it’s a document you update regularly, that runs out pretty quickly.

Also, you can’t think of your other devices as backups. You don’t have last week’s version on your laptop and this week’s version on your phone. Whatever changes you make in OneDrive (even very bad ones) get synchronized to all other devices. (Theoretically, if you left the wifi off on your laptop for a week, you would have last week’s files, but how many people could count on that as a backup mechanism?)

A backup solution does a full copy of your files at a point in time. Scheduling this to happen at regular intervals means that you will be able to restore any file from any of those time intervals. This is not what OneDrive (or Google Drive or iCloud) does.

OneDrive is not a viable backup solution. Microsoft really needs to stop using the term “backup” when they refer to OneDrive functionality. It is a file synchronization service, which has a lot of value on its own, but it is not a backup solution.

What should you use instead? If you use Mac, the easiest path would be to use the built-in Time Machine. On Linux, most distributions come with a default backup solution. Or you could script your own with something like rsync. Unfortunately, Windows 11 does not come with a built-in backup option. But here are some options that come highly recommended: