Synchronisation clients like OneDrive for Business, whether they’re used to sync folders with Office365 or to upload images and videos to shared locations, have become increasingly useful as our hunger for data and content continues to rise. But what if we try to subsequently delete these files? Or perhaps wish to take a simple ‘pause’ in the full synchronisation process?
Consider, for example, just how many photos we now take due to the convenience of having a digital camera on our smartphones. iPhone camera rolls are filled with hundreds of photos from the perfect sunset landscape to accidental pictures of your confused face when you didn’t realise you had the front-facing camera on. But unless you’re rocking one of the larger capacity iPhones (of the 64GB or 128GB variety) it’s likely that all these photos will take up a lot of available space. But the process of refining your photo library—syncing your iPhone to your PC or the Cloud—can often cause some unwanted problems.
All or nothing
So let’s say you’ve imported your weeks’ worth of photos onto your PC in order to clear up some space and to get rid of the photos you no longer want. Upon deletion, you get a message that says “this will delete the entry in the library, but not your record on the disk”. OK… so are you deleting the file, or just hiding it from view? You have the option of deleting everything you currently imported onto your PC, but then you’re back at square one. This is the case on whatever photo storage software you’re using, on Mac or Windows. At this point, you might end up deciding not to delete anything at all, for risk of losing the photos you actually do want. If that means keeping those twenty or so blurry photos of the top of your head, then so be it; because that’s better than every photo in your library suddenly disappearing.
Sync used to be all or nothing with Microsoft; let’s say, for example, you have a document folder you wish to sync. In OneDrive for Business, the client will sync said file in perpetuity unless you explicitly state that you no longer want to sync it. In most scenarios, this is perfectly reasonable. After all, OneDrive for Business is simply fulfilling its primary purpose as a sync client. But when you uncheck the folder for synchronisation because you stopped wanting to sync the file—if you wanted to tentatively consider a few more changes to the document without it becoming gospel in the online version, for example—the whole folder of files on your PC will disappear altogether. Suddenly, OneDrive for Business’ lack of granular control becomes a real problem.
This has been an area of both frustration and concern for users of the platform for some time, and Microsoft having finally addressed the issue at the recent Ignite conference in September. “Fear not!” they proclaimed, as selective sync is finally available with OneDrive for Business. Not to mention, at long last, you now have the ability to sync SharePoint Online document libraries as well as OneDrive folders that are shared with you. New sync buttons have been added for a seemingly new level of control over what you want to sync—but unchecking the button doesn’t stop synchronisation; it deletes the file completely. The ‘selective’ part of the new selective sync remains at the folder level.
What happens when you want to simply pause the synchronisation of those individual files? What if, for example, you’re working on a document, but the small, tentative changes you are making don’t warrant checking it out—you don’t want to stop anyone else from working on the file, after all. Well, you could do one of the following:
- Deselect the folder. This will pause the sync, sure enough. It will also delete the entire folder and its contents (including local files) in the process. Not exactly what I’d call an ideal solution.
- Pause sync. If you want to pause, then your only option is to pause all synchronisation in OneDrive for Business completely! If you are working collaboratively with your colleagues and syncing a team site, that rather defeats the whole purpose of having a sync client in the first place.
So in truth, you’re not really left with many options. What good is an automatic sync tool that you have to switch off? And what updates and changes might you miss out on if you were to stop syncing across the entire platform?
Easier365, from Digilink, is an alternative to Microsoft’s OneDrive for Business that offers users a more complete file synchronisation service. A dedicated user interface that has evolved over 12 years allows users to navigate and sync their files in a way that’s flexible to their needs.
When it comes to the ability to selectively sync a file, all users have to do is check a box: “sync” or “don’t sync”. Just click the button; nothing will get deleted unless you specifically right click and ask for that. Add your desired changes to the file without checking it out, leaving your colleagues to continue to add their changes in their own time. When you’ve made your changes, you just tick the button, and it syncs back up with the system for all to see. And you can do so from all levels: document, folder or the entire library. This is a level of flexibility and simplicity that, despite more updates from the OneDrive for Business platform, users have been asking for.