Optimised for collaboration, and offering up to 5 TB of storage per user, OneDrive for business is a great option for organisations seeking the mobility benefits afforded by cloud storage. Using SharePoint’s architecture, OneDrive for business offers more than basic cloud storage services, allowing users to co-author documents in real-time, access files via the mobile app and synchronise files to local storage for offline working.
File synchronisation is a key feature of the service, but what does it mean? In short, it lets you copy your cloud-based files to local storage allowing you to access your files with or without an internet connection. A great productivity feature, this lets you make changes to documents in situations where you don’t have internet access, helping you make use of the time that might otherwise be unproductive. Then when you come online again, the OneDrive desktop app will ensure that local changes, additions and deletions are automatically mirrored in your cloud storage – this is what’s meant by ‘synchronisation.’
Disruption to file syncing could leave large discrepancies between locally stored files and those in the cloud, as any changes or additions to local versions are no longer being reflected in their corresponding OneDrive/SharePoint location. From a data security perspective, this has the potential to be disastrous, as without file-syncing recent file edits and new data stored on laptops or mobile devices would be unrecoverable in the event of device destruction, loss or theft.
It is important to note, this issue is rare – but if you do encounter any issues with your file sync we’re here to help you resolve them.
What if it happens to me?
First, check the status of your OneDrive to determine whether file syncing is presenting problems.
On a Windows PC, navigate to the far right of the taskbar and locate the OneDrive icon in the notifications area. It should look like this…
If your OneDrive is experiencing a syncing issue, you may see one of the following icons displayed.
To keep your local and cloud files operating in harmony, we’ve assembled a short list of preventative and troubleshooting actions you can perform.
Check that OneDrive and Windows are connected
If you aren’t signed into the relevant Microsoft account on your device, then file syncing won’t occur and files will be saved locally by default. To check that your Microsoft Account is connected, navigate to the settings app, click “Accounts” and then “Emails and Accounts.” On Windows 10, the settings app should look like this…
You can also try ‘rebooting’ your account connection in an effort to rectify synchronization issues. To do this, locate the OneDrive icon located in the bottom right of the taskbar, click more options (…) and then settings.
Locate ‘the account’ tab and then select ‘unlink this PC,’ and then ‘unlink account.’
You’ll now be presented with the OneDrive setup wizard. Use the login credentials of the account featuring OneDrive for business, and with any luck file-syncing will resume automatically upon completion.
Double-check that syncing has been activated for your folder
OneDrive syncs all files and folders to the cloud by default, but it’s still worth performing a quick check to ensure syncing hasn’t been deactivated for the folder you’re working on.
To do this, open OneDrive’s settings pane, click on the “Accounts” tab and navigate to “Choose Folders.” You can choose complete synchronisation using the ‘Make all files available’ checkbox, or select individual files and folders as shown below.
Repair your OneDrive desktop client
OneDrive file syncing issues can often be attributed to the desktop client. Regular updating of this application is essential to ensure functionality, but over time updates often accrue flaws and errors, leaving you with a client application that’s unable to sync your files.
Such issues can often be resolved by performing a manual update to the OneDrive client. To get the latest version, navigate to the OneDrive website, locate the tab titled ‘Download’ and locate a link titled ‘Click here to download’ as shown below.
Then, initiate the installer and launch the app via the windows start menu. You’ll now be running a fully up-to-date version of the OneDrive desktop client, which should see your files start syncing again.
Check your storage capacity
File synchronisation issues can in some instances be caused by local or cloud storage reaching limits of capacity. If the culprit is your OneDrive storage account nearing or reaching capacity, you should see one of the following symbols appear in the notifications area located on the far right of your Windows taskbar.
The process for checking available disk space is the same in both Windows 10 and Windows 11. Navigate to the ‘File Explorer’ from the taskbar, and then click ‘This PC’ on the left side of the window. Your remaining local disk space will be displayed under ‘Devices and Drives’ as shown below.
To quickly ascertain that the issue isn’t your OneDrive storage capacity, left-click the OneDrive icon located in your notifications area, select ‘view online’ and if prompted log in with your Microsoft account credentials. You’ll then be presented with your OneDrive control panel, including a widget displaying ‘storage used/allocated.’
Check to see if there’s an issue with the OneDrive service
Before embarking on a troubleshooting mission, it’s worth performing a quick check to see if the OneDrive service itself is suffering an outage. To do this, determine whether you have access to your online files. Locate the OneDrive icon in the bottom right of your taskbar, click ‘more options’ (…) and then select ‘view online.’ You should then be able to browse your files via the web application.
You can also pay a visit to the Microsoft Service Health portal, where you’ll find service status updates including details of services facing disruption. If OneDrive is suffering a service outage, then all you can do is wait for Microsoft’s technicians to reinstate it.
Clear synchronisation blockages
When you open your OneDrive folder in file explorer you might notice the presence of one or multiple files displaying symbols which indicate file syncing in progress. If this appears to be taking an inordinate amount of time it could be beneficial to pause the synchronisation process and briefly relocate the problematic files in an effort to clear the blockage.
- First, pause the syncing process via the OneDrive icon as shown below.
- Then, navigate to your OneDrive folder within file explorer, locate the files which are failing to sync, and temporarily relocate these files to local storage using the ‘move to’ button in file explorer’s home tab. Any location will do.
- Now, navigate to the OneDrive icon in the taskbar again, and click ‘resume syncing.’
- Now that file syncing is underway again, restore the relocated files to your OneDrive folder one by one. By restarting the sync process in this way, the previously stuck files should now sync freely to your OneDrive account.
This short guide features some of the most effective tricks for remedying OneDrive file syncing problems, but if you continue to encounter difficulties it’s vital you contact your IT provider. They’ll help you get to the route of the problem, ensuring all files are synced to the cloud for enhanced security and ease of collaboration.
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