Any device, no matter the operating system, is susceptible to a ransomware attack or a device crash.
Microsoft OneDrive Folder Backup (known as Known Folder Move) is a policy deployed by Microsoft that automatically syncs the contents of a user’s critical folders—Documents, Desktop, and Pictures—to the cloud to protect it from device crashes and ransomware attacks. Files are safe in the cloud, easy to share and collaborate on, and are accessible across different devices.
The goal of this project was to empower every OneDrive user in Microsoft to protect their critical files and sync their ‘known’ folders to the cloud—this gives them seamless access from any of their devices from anywhere without changing the way they work.
—Priya Chebiyam, senior product manager, Microsoft Digital Employee Experience
It’s all about making it easy for the company’s employees and vendors to access their stuff safely,” says Priya Chebiyam, a senior product manager who leads Microsoft’s internal usage of OneDrive for the Microsoft Digital Employee Experience team, the organization that powers, protects, and transforms the company.
“The goal of this project was to empower every OneDrive user in Microsoft to protect their critical files and sync their ‘known’ folders to the cloud—this gives them seamless access from any of their devices from anywhere without changing the way they work,” Chebiyam says.
[Explore how Expedia Group is using OneDrive. Unpack reinventing Microsoft’s Employee Experience for a Hybrid World. Discover how a OneDrive feature shifts the way employees save files within Microsoft.]
Putting employee productivity first
The Known Folder Move project was piloted at the end of 2019, starting with a small group of employees.
A significant step in the pilot was to decide on the deployment approach—would it be silent or prompt-based? With a silent approach, the policy would be automatically initiated for users who would then be notified when their backup was complete. With a prompt-based system, users would be pinged at the start of the process and choose whether to opt in or opt out.
While a silent approach is widespread across the industry, Microsoft opted for giving employees a choice. Participation is not mandatory but highly encouraged, as Microsoft’s corporate security policy states that work documents and files must reside in a corporate-approved storage system; OneDrive serves as that system.
“Giving our employees a choice is very important to us—it’s part of our culture,” says James Speller, a client deployment engineer on the project with Microsoft Digital Employee Experience.
We had to take a step back and consider how the rollout will affect their productivity. Instead of being the first and best, it was about taking time, being thoughtful, and keeping productivity at the top of mind.
—Eva Etchells, content publishing program manager, Microsoft Digital Employee Experience
The company took a different path at LinkedIn, choosing the silent deployment approach. “At LinkedIn, doing it that way was right for their culture and the way they run their business,” Chebiyam says. “Both of these approaches—the prompt and the silent—were successful for us and enabled our users to successfully back up their content to the cloud.”
Additionally, the cross-company Known Folder Move team heavily relied on employee feedback to create a better solution and user experience. They took their time to get this rollout right, as this policy affects employee productivity.
“We had to take a step back and consider how the rollout will affect their productivity. Instead of being the first and best, it was about taking time, being thoughtful, and keeping productivity at the top of mind,” says Eva Etchells, a content publishing program manager in Microsoft Digital Employee Experience. She oversees communicating to employees about OneDrive and other collaboration tools such as Yammer and SharePoint and was responsible for the internal messaging around this policy.
The team mainly leveraged Yammer and OneDrive’s in-app surveys to collect feedback that would be sent directly to the help desk. Feedback was communicated to the product team, continuously improving the product to provide a better user experience.
Because files are automatically synced to OneDrive, users can be more carefree about their content, which gives them peace of mind. You don’t have to worry about where your data is or where your content lives.
—Gaia Carini, principal product manager, OneDrive product group
Once enough feedback was gathered and implemented, the rollout came to the entire Microsoft user base—250,000 targeted employees and vendors. This user base was divided based on role and geography, and the team started rolling it out to about 5,000 to 10,000 users per batch. Currently, there are about 146,000 users now enabled, with thousands more added each month.
New employees and vendors are offered this feature by default.
“We average over 4,000 new users per month obtaining this feature,” says Abhishek Sharma, a senior service engineer in Microsoft Digital Employee Experience who worked on the project. “That’s a big win because from day one, people are getting their data in the cloud, and it’s secure.”
To get employees on board with using the cloud, messaging focused on the benefits of using OneDrive. These benefits include the amount of storage you get (all OneDrive accounts in Microsoft come with 5 TB of free cloud storage), the ability to access files if your computer is lost, broken, or in a refresh cycle, more secure sharing, easier access, improved collaboration, and real-time versioning.
“Because files are automatically synced to OneDrive, users can be more carefree about their content, which gives them peace of mind,” Carini says. “You don’t have to worry about where your data is or where your content lives.”
While Etchells worked on messaging internally to employees, Ankita Kirti, a OneDrive product marketing manager, shaped the narrative around OneDrive Folder Backup outside of Microsoft, communicating the benefits to external stakeholders.
For Kirti, the narrative formed around figuring out how to automatically backup all users’ content without disrupting the way they work. Like Etchells’s messaging, Kirti’s focused on device crashes, stolen PCs, ransomware attacks, and so on to drive change management and adoption of the product.
“When you start talking about user scenarios, it is easier to promote the added benefits that OneDrive offers users for the content they were already creating,” Kirti says.
Out of sight, out of mind
With OneDrive Folder Backup, users don’t have to think about the safety and security of their documents or worry about it affecting their productivity. It’s invisible, seamless, and always in sync. Millions of files and hundreds of terabytes of data have been uploaded to OneDrive, and it continues to grow each month.
OneDrive is crucial for recovery from ransomware attacks. As a best practice for fast-tracking people to get back to a productive state if affected by an attack, we want more business data to reside in OneDrive.
—Vivek Vinod Sharma, senior security architect, Microsoft Digital Security and Resilience
“OneDrive has provided a valuable benefit to me for a long time,” says Susan Sims, a fan of the service who works in Microsoft Digital Employee Experience as a team senior program manager.
Sims managed global file services years ago that hosted shared content. According to Sims, there was an attack on those file servers nearly monthly, attacks that led to manual lockdowns to make sure the company didn’t lose business-critical content. Microsoft OneDrive Folder Backup has eliminated the risk and concern around losing content from device crashes as well as attacks.
“OneDrive is crucial for recovery from ransomware attacks,” says Vivek Vinod Sharma, a senior security architect who served as the security point of contact for the project for the Microsoft Digital Security and Resilience team. “As a best practice for fast-tracking people to get back to a productive state if affected by an attack, we want more business data to reside in OneDrive.”
Currently, OneDrive Folder Backup is enabled on all Windows users. macOS users can back up their Documents and Desktop to OneDrive. OneDrive Folder Backup for macOS is currently in Public Preview and will be available for GA in fall 2022.
“OneDrive Folder Backup brings the power of the cloud to the desktop on Windows and macOS,” Carini says. “It’s a critical part of the strategy and important for customers to look at and enable in their organizations.”
- Backing up files to the cloud is one of the most secure ways to store critical content to prevent file loss from ransomware attacks.
- For faster and more effective change management across the organization, please focus on the features and benefits employees will gain by adopting the policy to make them more likely to opt-in.
- For a global rollout, communication is vital to ensure everything runs smoothly, especially when working across four or five different teams and geographies. Defining roles for each person and group is crucial.
- When you begin moving your employees to OneDrive in the cloud, make sure their needs are at the center of everything you do. Get them as involved in the process as possible and act on as much of their feedback as you can to create a better user experience for everyone.
- Acknowledge your organization’s policies and processes regarding security and compliance and use that as guidance when rolling out an approach to the entire user base.
- Explore how Expedia Group is using OneDrive.
- Learn more about enabling remote work at Microsoft: Cloud-first file management and collaboration.
- Unpack reinventing Microsoft’s Employee Experience for a Hybrid World.
- Discover how a OneDrive feature shifts the way employees save files within Microsoft.
Tags: Microsoft 365