Since its original release, I have found myself ‘chronologically confused’ with Microsoft’s file hosting service OneDrive and its subsequent iterations. What’s more, I know I’m not alone in this; many of us have been feeling left in the dark with what we’re actually getting from these new and different versions of the software. It reminds me of certain Hollywood film franchises and the illogical structure of their titles. Take the Alien franchise, for example. While a landmark for the sci-fi genre, it left many confused when it came to the sequel films:

  • Alien
  • Aliens
  • Alien³
  • Alien: Resurrection
  • Prometheus

The first two make relative sense, but why does the 3rd Alien title use superscript? Is it Alien cubed? And just to make sure there’s no consistency, the 4th film was called Alien: Resurrection. Why not just Alien 4? And then, 15 years later, we get a prequel, Prometheus – a title which has no reference to the previous films whatsoever. What’s wrong with a simple numbering system of 1, 2, 3, 4 etc.?

onedrive for business doesn't sync

Sadly, it’s not just Hollywood that is guilty of this. It seems Microsoft has fallen into this trap when it comes to its cloud sync and share tools. I’ll try to explain:

1. SkyDrive/SkyDrive pro

This was the original name for the cloud sync and share franchise that Microsoft had to change following a court case with a similarly named brand…

2. OneDrive

This is the standard, part-and-parcel consumer product. Recent changes saw the withdrawal of unlimited storage space for Office 365 home and personal subscribers, and reduced the free storage from 15GB down to 5GB.

3. OneDrive for Business

Alright, this title seems straightforward enough. The enterprise equivalent of OneDrive, OneDrive for Business synchronises the personal space (i.e. standard OneDrive) and SharePoint Team Sites on Office 365 and SharePoint 2013. It’s different software to the consumer OneDrive.

4. OneDrive for Business

To clarify: no, I’m not repeating myself. This is technically the ‘next generation’ OneDrive for Business, even though it’s actually the same software as the consumer OneDrive. Anyway, this version only syncs the personal space on Office 365 and SharePoint 2013, not Team Sites. For the purposes of this blog post, we’ll call this OneDrive for Business ‘2’.

As you can imagine, having two products with differentiating features but identical names can cause a lot of confusion. The enterprise versions of OneDrive have seen a lot of resentment from users, and it’s understandable. Aside from the syncing issues that we’re about to discuss, there are few big limitations to be aware of:

• A company that uses shared corporate Team sites is forced to use the ‘old’ OneDrive for Business.
• If you have more than 5,000 files or 2GB in your Team Site, then you can’t use any of these tools.

Your current options

One of the few similarities between the two OneDrive for Business’ is the inherent issues with syncing content. There is help that’s currently out there by way of the Office and Microsoft support pages, or you can look for ‘real-life’ solutions via the Office 365 community forums.

However, the advice found here is usually to the tune of delete and re-sync everything. So, this obviously isn’t going to solve problems for everyone – and with more people suffering from these sync problems, we are in need of a firmer solution that carries more weight. Listed below are the OneDrive for Business twins’ most common syncing issues.

5 reasons OneDrive for Business doesn’t sync

1. File limitations

OneDrive for Business
Users can sync a total of up to 20,000 total items across all synchronised libraries. There is a limit of 5,000 items per team site library. In any SharePoint library, you can sync files up to 2 GB. For any large company, these restrictions will be full in no time at all.

OneDrive for Business ‘2’
Only syncs items in your OneDrive for Business library and there is a 10GB file size limit for every file. So while some limits may have gone there’s a new limit; you can only sync in your library!

2. Local file deletion

Let’s say, for example, a user has less than 5,000 team site files, and they sync these files via OneDrive for Business on both their laptop and iPad. The process of deleting files off their iPad will end up deleting files on their laptop, too. This is the case for both iterations of the software, and is clearly a big productivity barrier.

3. Selective syncing

OneDrive for Business
You have two options: all or nothing. Users can sync either their entire Team Site or sync nothing at all.

OneDrive for Business ‘2’
You can choose which libraries and folders to sync, but only in your OneDrive personal space.

4. Majority matters

According to this research, the most popular version of SharePoint is 2010 at 40%, followed by 2007 at 25%. Because OneDrive for Business ‘2’ only syncs Office 365 and SharePoint 2013 personal space, a company using SharePoint 2007 or 2010 simply cannot use any OneDrive for Business product. It seems like a rather glaring error, but it’s true and remains the case at present.

5. Conflict Management

Microsoft recommends that if you want to collaborate on Office files in OneDrive for Business, you and your co-editors should open these files in a web browser. If you create a conflicted copy, this becomes listed. However, to resolve said conflict you have to open the file in Office and resolve it internally from within Word. OneDrive for Business ‘2’ creates two copies of the file and informs you that there is a conflict – which is better – but that’s about it. It doesn’t let you automatically resolve the conflict, but simply lets you know there is one.

Take the easy way out

Easier365, from Digi-link, runs on the user’s computer and synchronises the files locally onto a local file store. The end user has complete control, because they can selectively choose what to synchronise. That is, they choose which libraries, folders and files they want. It also works with SharePoint 2007 and 2010.

Sign up for a free trial to witness the benefits of Easier365 and see how syncing can be made simple.


onedrive for business doesn't sync