SharePoint-OneDrive sync: too little, too late

March 21, 2017

Back at the start of the year, Microsoft announced the latest feature update to its OneDrive for Business platform with SharePoint-OneDrive sync capability. This new capability allows users to sync their SharePoint sites directly to OneDrive—something that has been highly sought-after by OneDrive users for a long time.

Since its release, OneDrive for Business has seen its fair share of limitations when it comes to syncing capabilities. From file limitations to selective sync and conflict management, these are problems that have not gone unnoticed by users.

So, is the belated but ultimate release of SharePoint-OneDrive sync enough to get Microsoft’s OneDrive for Business back on track?

SharePoint-OneDrive sync: what you need to know

With SharePoint-OneDrive sync, organisations with an Office 365 subscription can synchronise their SharePoint Online files to a local folder on their computer, meaning you can access documents locally through Windows File Explorer. This will allow users to do the following:

  • Browse to a SharePoint Online site or shared folder and click “Sync” to sync all content in the document library or selected folders
  • Modify folders to sync directly from the PC or Mac
  • Synchronise shared folders
  • Synchronise read-only files and folders
  • Co-author files in real time with Office 2016

For users that already have the most recent version of OneDrive for Business, this update to include SharePoint-OneDrive sync will happen automatically. Microsoft says SharePoint-OneDrive sync will provide you with the information that is most relevant and important to you. With SharePoint-OneDrive sync, you now have your critical information available to you on every device no matter where you are.

Most importantly, however, is the fact that with your synchronised SharePoint files in File Explorer, OneDrive for Business users can now access their files even when offline. Microsoft may have been a little late to the offline file sync party, but (some) credit is due that they have finally acknowledged users who have been clamouring for this functionality for some time.

But what of your offline files?

Giving users the opportunity to work with their files while offline is great, of course… as long as the platform is able to deal with changes to both online and offline files at the same time. Alas, while changes made locally or in the cloud is not a problem for OneDrive for Business, simultaneously updating files both locally and in the cloud, can disrupt your working in SharePoint. Which is a shame, considering the new SharePoint-OneDrive sync capability will mean this happens far more often.

Let’s imagine you are making changes to a document while on your commute to work. Unbeknownst to you, however, a colleague already in the office has also been editing the document within SharePoint at the same time. When you arrive at the office, both of you having made your own changes, you end up with two conflicting copies of the same document.

In large organisations with hundreds of employees, each of whom accesses hundreds of documents, these kinds of changes are increasingly likely to occur. And this means that conflicts become more frequent—users can easily lose track of their own content within documents, confuse their own changes with a colleague’s edits, and so on.

SharePoint-OneDrive sync will be able to alert you of these conflicting documents. But that’s about as far as assistance on the matter will go. In terms of finding conflicts and resolving them, that’s still up to you.

The Easier approach

Conflicts. So, what’s your plan of action? Easier365, can get to the root of these offline working issues. Key to making it easier, Easier365 has its own Conflicts Tab where you can find all your conflicted files. And what about metadata ? Remember how Microsoft OneDrive didn’t used to support it? Well unfortunately, it still doesn’t! No matter, Easier365 does.  Be it one or a thousand, they’ll wait for you so that your work is never lost and you can resolve them on your own terms.

  • Restore Conflicts

If a colleague has updated a file in SharePoint and has overwritten your own local changes, Easier365 will copy said changed local file and make it a local ‘Version’. ‘Restore Conflicts’ will restore your file in the local folder and also upload your file to SharePoint.

  • Remove/Remove All

Let’s say you have made a minor formatting change but have then decided your update is not necessary. ‘Remove’ will tell the software to ‘forget’ the conflict, instead letting the overwrite prevail. ‘Remove All’ will do the same for every conflict in the list.

  • Merge

Merging your offline documents can remove a conflict, merging the downloaded file with the file that it had previously overwritten. Obviously, this option is only relevant if you expect the changes made by yourself and others to be on different sections of a document.

  • Compare

Not sure what changes were made to a document? ‘Compare’ will open your file and display the two sets of changes using Word’s Track Changes option. Once you have finished reviewing a document and accepted or rejected changes made, the version saved will become the local version and will also be uploaded to SharePoint. If you don’t like the result and want to change your mind, the original local file will be retained in your local versions and the original downloaded file will be in SharePoint versions.

Try Easier365 today with a free 30-day trial and be better equipped to deal with OneDrive for Business conflicts.


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