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Training: OneDrive Sync Basics

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Below is a quick start guide on using OneDrive Sync and making sure OneDrive sync is working correctly. If you are relying on OneDrive to sync your data to SharePoint/Teams it’s important you have some basic understanding on how it works to avoid causing your business data loss or encountering conflicting files and duplicate files.

Unlike a typical file server, OneDrive syncing works by creating a copy of your work files on your actual PC.
OneDrive keep this local copy and the ‘true’ online/cloud copy “in sync” by monitoring for additions/changes/deletions and keeping your folder in sync with the OneDrive/Sharepoint/Teams cloud storage. This all happens automatically without you needing to pay too much attention to it.

If OneDrive is not running (or signed out), changes you make to files will not be visible to others and their changes will not show for you.
If files are not being properly synchronized, you’ll still be able to save/edit/delete data in your previously synced folders but until OneDrive start syncing that folder, no one else will be able to see those files, and any changes you make only exist for you.

For example: If OneDrive is not running, and you save an important file into a location that should be synced, and then something happens to damage your laptop. That data will be lost.

To check if OneDrive is running as expected, the best way is to check for the OneDrive (blue cloud) icon in the system tray
(bottom right corner next to the where windows shows the time).
If it has a red cross through it, click on it to see what the issue is.
Here are some common status icons to keep an eye out for if you think OneDrive is not syncing:

OneDrive iconWhat it meansWhat you need to do
OneDrive sync error icon OneDrive for Business sync error iconOneDrive has an ErrorClick the Icon for more information
OneDrive processing changes icon OneDrive for Business processing changes iconOneDrive is currently processing or syncing changesGive OneDrive more time, or check to see if it is stuck on a specific file
OneDrive not runnning iconOneDrive is not logged inLogin to OneDrive
Icon MissingOneDrive is not runningStart OneDrive or Restart your Computer


Another method to keep an eye out of is if there is an absence of a status icon next to files that should be syncing.

They should show either a tick (if previously accessed) or a cloud (if they have not yet been accessed but are available.
You may see some with a sync symbol, these are often just files you have open or large files that are still being uploaded/downloaded.

Keep on top of conflicts
Certain file changes will refused to sync for a multitude of reasons. When this happens you’ll see a red cross on the OneDrive icon and one on the file(or folder affected). If you click the OneDrive icon in the system tray (bottom left corner of your screen), OneDrive will usually tell you what the issue is.

If two people have edited the same file, it may ask you if you want to select one to keep or keep both version.
If there is an issue with the file or folder name it may request you rename the file (certain characters are not allowed).

Until the conflict or error is resolved you will not be syncing that file and risking data loss.

If you are unable to get OneDrive syncing working? You may need technical assistance.
If you are making changes to what files are synced, be cautious and make sure to read each prompt carefully and if unsure ask for assistance.

This applies especially for folder that have not been synced for several weeks. Activating the sync on them can create huge problems with unwanted deletions of files being caused or restoration of files that were meant to be deleted, because your local version is too out of sync of the origional.

Further Reading
Troubleshooting OneDrive Sync Issues – Ryve IT Knowledge Base
How can I improve OneDrive’s performance? – Ryve IT Knowledge Base

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