Running out of hard drive space on your PC used to be a problem. It usually meant you had to get a new PC, or offload some files onto an external hard disk, or upgrade your internal drive. All three options were pretty much a pain.
Cloud storage services haven't solved these hassles completely, but they are making it easier to clear up some space on your hard drive.
Google Drive and Microsoft's OneDrive drive are offering ever increasing amounts of free (and free-ish) storage. New Google Drive users start off with 15GB, as do OneDrive users. If you happen to be an Office 365 subscriber you get unlimited storage on OneDrive as part of your subscription.
Dropbox is still comparatively stingy with 2GB of free space, but most users quickly bump that up to 5GB or more with various giveaways and incentives from the company, which leaps all the way to 1TB with a $10 per month or $100 per year subscription.
All three services let you get selective about which files you bring down from the cloud to your desktop. That means you can leave some stuff in your cloud drive and only download it when necessary. Let's explain how to do that, and considerations to keep in mind before you start stashing your valuable files on third-party servers alone.
For Windows 8.1 users, keeping stuff up in the cloud with OneDrive is fairly easy. Open OneDrive in Windows Explorer. Anything under the category heading Availability (in Details View) that says Available offline is stored on your hard drive. If it says Online-only it's in the cloud, which is the default.
To switch anything that's on your hard drive to online-only, just right-click it and select Make available online-only. The file will disappear from your hard drive, but remain available for downloading from the cloud via Windows Explorer any time you need it.
Online-only files will still appear when you open the OneDrive folder in Windows Explorer, but the icons are just small 'pointers' to let you know they're available in your cloud storage space. Opening an online-only file will download a local copy of the file and open it.
To do the same in Google Drive, click the upward facing arrow in the lower right corner of the taskbar. Find the Google Drive icon, right-click it, and select Preferences... Under the Sync options tab check the box that says Only sync some folders to this computer. Then click the folders you want to keep on your hard drive and click Apply changes. The rest will again be gone from your hard drive, but still available in the cloud.
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