Fix Microsoft OneDrive sync problems

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Microsoft OneDrive has been part of Windows for a while and works very well most of the time. However, some people have problems with it. Here’s how to fix it if it goes wrong.

If you have a Microsoft ID such as an Outlook.com account, Xbox Live, Windows 10, etc., you have access to OneDrive online storage. These days, Microsoft gives you 5GB for free (more if you’re a long-time customer) to store your files. It’s even built into Windows 10, and you can access OneDrive from Explorer. Files placed in the OneDrive folder on the drive should sync to OneDrive online and vice versa, but occasionally something goes wrong and one or more files don’t sync. What can you do?

Microsoft OneDrive to update and sync files
Sometimes OneDrive never finishes syncing

Compare online and offline files

A file may appear online in OneDrive when viewed in a web browser but not on the PC’s drive when viewed using Explorer, or a file in Explorer on the PC’s drive may not appear online in a browser . Open a browser and an explorer window side by side and compare them.

Manually checking every file and folder is not always possible and with 1TB of online storage you can have tens of thousands of files. You can check at least some of the folders that you use most often on OneDrive, e.g. B. Documents.

Delete strangely named folders on OneDrive to solve sync problems
I found this strange folder in OneDrive online but not on PC. I don’t remember creating it. Delete everything you don’t need.

If you find the problematic file/folder, rename it, delete it, move it out of OneDrive, whatever works. Drag it to the desktop. Wait for OneDrive to sync and then put it back. Then for some reason it sometimes syncs.

Check the file icons

Click the OneDrive icon in the taskbar and see if files are syncing at the top. If it’s still syncing hours or days later, there’s clearly a problem.

It is unclear whether the error is with files online or on the PC drive. However, you may be able to tell by the badges on the file and folder icons in Explorer.

In Explorer, files that are not syncing have an icon indicating a problem. A green tick in a circle means the file is both on the PC’s drive and online. Anything else means you are having sync issues and a padlock means the settings are preventing the file/folder from syncing.

Select OneDrive in Explorer and see if everything has the green tick. You must open folders and subfolders to check all files.

What if all files and folders have green checkmarks? This may indicate that the problem is with one or more online files that cannot be downloaded.

Find hidden files

Sync problems can be caused by hidden files, so you should look for them and delete them.

  1. In Explorer, click outlook to open the ribbon/toolbar and click options.
  2. Choose outlook tab in the next window
  3. Choose Show hidden files, folders and drives
  4. A little further down, uncheck the box Hide protected operating system files

The weird file below now appears in Explorer and some people have found that deleting it fixes their syncing issue. Other people find that deleting it does nothing. Right-click the OneDrive icon in the taskbar and select Close OneDrive, then delete the file. Restart Windows.

Windows Explorer shows a hidden file on OneDrive
Two hidden files here might cause sync issues. Quit OneDrive and delete them.

Rename the file

When comparing files in Explorer to files on OneDrive using a browser, you may see the corrupted files. If you see a file that won’t sync, rename it either on the PC’s hard drive or online. Right-click on it and select Rename. Delete the entire name and replace it with something simpler like “test”.

Sometimes special characters are included in the name that are supported online but not offline, or they are supported offline but not online. Or if you have OneDrive on an Apple Mac and a filename is OK on the Mac but Windows doesn’t like it. Rename it, give it a minute or two and if it syncs now you know the mistake was the name.

Check the search service

One strange thing about OneDrive that some people have noticed is that it doesn’t work properly when the Windows search service is disabled. Press Windows + R and enter services.msc. Verify that Windows Search is running. If it doesn’t, double-click it and set the startup type to Automatic. Start the service using the Start button.

Reset OneDrive

If you’re still having trouble syncing files to OneDrive, try resetting it. Press Windows+R and type onedrive.exe /reset. You probably don’t need the full path, but here it is:

C:UsersYourNameAppDataLocalMicrosoftOneDriveOneDrive.exe /reset

Of course, replace YourName with your account name.

This won’t delete any files, but OneDrive will scan them all and sync online and offline storage. If you have hundreds of gigabytes of files it can take a long time and use up a lot of internet bandwidth, but it’s pretty quick and easy if you only have a gigabyte or two of files.

Use the troubleshooter

There is a OneDrive troubleshooter app on the Microsoft website. Download it and double click the file in the download folder if nothing has worked so far. Just click the Next button and follow the prompts to complete all the necessary repairs.

Note: This is a legacy troubleshooter for old versions of Windows and OneDrive. It doesn’t run on the latest version of Windows 10.

Check security permissions

Access to files and folders is controlled by security permissions and you may not have permission to sync a file/folder. In Explorer, right-click OneDrive and select Characteristics in the menu. Choose security tap and select system, administrators and Your Name In the list. In which Permissions List below, all should have Allow access. When it says Denyyou need to edit and change the permissions.

Select your name in the user list and click Progressive. In which Access Column it should be called full control. There is a check box Replace all child object permissions… Select this, choose your account name and click Apply. This gives you full control over all files/folders in the OneDrive folder.

Disconnect from OneDrive

Unlinking OneDrive breaks the sync connection between the folder on the PC’s drive and the online storage. Some people have found that reconnecting their account after unlinking resolves the sync issue, probably because it forces OneDrive to check all files.

Disconnect OneDrive on a Windows PC

Right-click the OneDrive icon in the taskbar and select settings. click Disconnect this PC on the Account Tab. Restart Windows and re-link it to your account.

Problem solved?

To be honest, some people have tried everything and OneDrive still says it’s syncing items. It just never stops. However, it rarely causes problems and can be ignored.

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