Habits are curious things. Why is it that bad habits are easy to make and hard to break, while good ones are often difficult to forge in the first place? Why is it that some of us are more prone to picking up certain weaknesses and distractions that undermine the fundamental good intentions that we have? Some habits are, of course, worse than others. And stopping these bad habits is generally a good idea: smoking, for example, or reducing the amount of sugar you consume in a day. And picking up good habits is equally as desirable as kicking the bad ones – like exercising every now and then or seeing friends more often.

Then there are certain habits that don’t necessarily fall into the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ binary. Some are simply things you do in a certain way because that’s how you’ve always done them. Like the approach to aspects of your work. Most of the time, we just want to complete our tasks, and sometimes that means falling back on habits that are more pragmatic than best practice.

Today, we’re going to look at the bad habits we can fall into regarding document management, that can often occur when we’re trying to selective sync OneDrive for Business files and folders.

The weekend warrior

Sometimes (unfortunately) a project has a tight deadline and you need to work on a document or two at home over the weekend. You and your colleagues have embraced Microsoft’s sharing and multi-person editing of large documents and you all use OneDrive for Business so those changes are synched automatically to your computer.

On this particular weekend, you decide you want to work on a very critical part of the proposal you are putting together with your colleagues. You don’t want to Check Out the document—that would stop anybody else making changes. But you do want to stop synching their changes while you make your own.

No problem, you think. You can just use the Selective Synchronisation option in OneDrive for Business. You can select Settings > Choose Folders and just uncheck the box against the folder you don’t want to sync.

The granularity of synchronisation

Well, there’s a problem with the above idea – the granularity of synchronisation is at the folder level. So, if one is to uncheck a folder, OneDrive for Business takes this to mean you no longer care about that folder anymore. Let’s assume you only had one file in that folder and that’s the file you want to work on. So, is that good? No, it’s bad. Because when you uncheck the folder, it gets deleted locally.

Your SharePoint copy is still safe but you’ll have to re-sync the document to work on it locally. The first time you uncheck a folder for synchronisation with OneDrive for Business you’ll get this pop-up:

selective sync OneDrive

*Note: you should pay attention to this message the first time around, because it doesn’t appear after the initial instance. Next time you uncheck a box you will be deleting the local copy.

Bad habits die hard

Below are some of the habits we fall into when trying to get around this selective sync OneDrive for Business issue. You might recognise some of them!

The duplicator

Okay, you could decide not to un-sync that folder. You can always just copy the document out somewhere else and copy it back in and overwrite the SharePoint version, can’t you? Well maybe.  If your colleagues make changes you’ll invoke a conflict, regardless of whether you even did update anything or not. Also you’ll have to be careful with different versions of Word.  The latest might try to save the document back to its home in the Cloud.  You’ll get an overwrite and a new version in SharePoint regardless of which version of Word.  The only thing I can guarantee is you’ll be confused.

The manual merger

You could possibly either merge your changes into the shared file version when you detect the conflict, or you could manually input all your changes you made over the weekend into the online version when you next open it online.

The sync pause

You may say to yourself, “Why don’t I just check the box in OneDrive for Business marked pause synching?” Leave the file where it is, make your changes and then sync them up when you’re done. You can do this… however, now you’re back in the territory of conflicted copies. As well as this, you’ve switched off your synchronisation lifeline for all the other documents that you were interested in. Perhaps your colleagues are working on some of the other files over the weekend – but you won’t know, because you have turned off synching!

There is an easier way

Now consider Easier365. Uncheck the sync box next to a file and it knows to stop synching only that file. Everything else carries on synching as normal. When you’ve finished your work, re-check the box and it starts synching again. If your colleagues have been tinkering with the same file while you’ve been busy, Easier365 will tell you, offering to merge or keep two separate copies of your work. Alternatively, a ‘Compare’ button gives you a cumulative view of all changes, for you to accept or neglect appropriately. And if you are the only diligent person over this particular weekend, your updates will sail off into SharePoint without a murmur.


Talk to us today to get your free trial of Easier 365, and break from your document management bad habits today!