Microsoft OneDrive's Fetch feature goes away at the end of July

OneDrive's hidden Fetch feature allowed you to set up a second PC as a cheap and easy file server.

Credit: Microsoft

One of those small, forgotten, but occasionally useful features is leaving Windows: OneDrive’s Fetch function is dead as of July 31.

It’s a consequence of Microsoft’s worldview, and its evolving approach toward files of all stripes. Fetch allowed you to download a file from a remote PC you either owned or had access to, just like a website or server. Microsoft, of course, believes that files should be stored on its servers, namely OneDrive.

Microsoft made the announcement in a support document detailing Fetch, which has made its way around the Internet via Born’s IT and Windows Blog

“After July 31, 2020, you will no longer be able to fetch files from your PC. However, you can sync files and folders to OneDrive and then access those files from your web browser or your phone,” Microsoft’s support document says. “To automatically sync the Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders on your PC, you can turn on OneDrive PC folder backup.”

Part of a new PC’s out-of-the-box experience asks you to sync your folders with OneDrive—by default, they’re Pictures, Documents, and the Desktop. You can add other folders as well. Microsoft offers some free storage as part of your Windows license and OneDrive, but it’s only 5GB of storage. If you own a Microsoft 365 license, as Microsoft encourages you to do, you’ll receive a “free” terabyte of OneDrive storage as part of your paid OneDrive subscription—but that costs at least $70 per year for a Microsoft 365 Personal license.

Fetch offered a klugey, though real, way to avoid paying for OneDrive. If you had a spare Windows 7/8.1/10 PC that was on and active, you could (and still can, for now) set OneDrive to allow you to fetch files stored on that PC’s local drive or attached storage, as long as you were signed into your Microsoft account on both machines and the PC was on, and running. (You can still access it by clicking the OneDrive icon on the Taskbar, then clicking the Settings heading to get the menu screen below.) It was a quick-and-dirty Windows way of establishing a PC as a server.

Microsoft onedrive fetch Microsoft

Retooling an old PC as a remote server is probably a lost art these days, as more and more content is simply streamed somewhere from the web. Still, it’s a useful function that’s going away at the end of the month. 

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Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
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