Microsoft OneDrive is an impressive cloud storage system, giving you the ability to synchronize the files on your local hard drive with your cloud storage account. The OneDrive sync feature ensures you always have a backup copy of your files in the cloud, protecting against a local computer hard drive failure.
When using OneDrive sync, you also can see and use your files on any device that can access your OneDrive account. When you make changes to your OneDrive files on one device, OneDrive reflects the changes in the cloud, so any device you use with your OneDrive account will see the latest version of every file.
With so many handy features, it’s easy to see why people rely on OneDrive. However, when the sync feature in OneDrive is not working properly, it can be a significant hassle for users. To help you fix your OneDrive sync problems, we’ve listed the 11 most common issues OneDrive users face and the solutions.
1. Cannot Access OneDrive
OneDrive will not be able to sync across your devices if the device you’re currently using cannot access your OneDrive account. If you’re having trouble using OneDrive, start by checking the connection.
Look in the notification area of your Windows computer for the OneDrive icon, which will be a blue or white cloud icon. (You may need to click the upward pointing arrow to see the OneDrive icon.)
If you don’t see this cloud icon, you don’t have access to your OneDrive account, and you won’t be able to sync. You’ll have to sign in again.
If you do see the cloud icon but synching is not working, click on the cloud icon, followed by Help & Settings. In the popup menu, click Settings, followed by View Online. This should give you access to your OneDrive files temporarily until you’re able to make OneDrive work through synching again by using one of the other troubleshooting options we have listed below.
2. Moving Stuck Files
If you notice some files are not synching properly, showing a red minus sign icon, this can be a sign of an overall synching issue. OneDrive may attempt to continue synching these files, ending up in an error loop. This causes a slowdown in performance and may lead to other problems.
You can move these files that don’t seem to be synching properly to another folder on your local hard drive that’s not part of the folders you’re synching to OneDrive.
Before you can move these stuck files into another folder, you will need to pause the OneDrive synching process. Click the OneDrive icon in the notifications bar, followed by More. In the popup menu, click Pause Synching. Next, select the amount of time for the pause. (We suggest the minimum two hours.)
Then open File Explorer. Open your OneDrive folder that has the files causing the conflict. Highlight the files you want to move and click the Move To button near the top of the window. Select the folder where you want to move these files. (Remember, it needs to be a local folder that does not sync with OneDrive.)
Once you’ve moved the files, you can restart the OneDrive synching process. Just click the OneDrive icon in the notification bar, followed by More. Then click Resume Synching in the popup menu. (You also can just allow the two-hour window to expire, and OneDrive will begin synching again on its own.)
After it appears OneDrive is synching properly again, you can try moving the stuck files back to their original folder to see if OneDrive will now sync them correctly. If it still isn’t working, see if you have one of the issues that we’ve outlined in the next step.
3. Incompatible File Names
If you are attempting to sync files with names that OneDrive doesn’t find compatible, it may appear as though your entire synchronization feature is malfunctioning. In reality, OneDrive simply is unable to sync these particular files with the incompatible file names.
You will be unable to sync files with certain types of names. These include:
- Files larger than 15 GB in size, so you’ll need to reduce the size of the file or compress it. (Some OneDrive account levels can use files up to 100 GB in size.)
- File path names with 400 or more characters, so you’ll need to reduce the length of some folder names or use a path with fewer subfolders.
- File names with illegal characters, so you’ll need to remove those characters.
4. Interference From Office 365
If you are an Office 365 user, these apps can continually upload your files to OneDrive as you’re working, ensuring that any changes you make to the files are available on OneDrive. With this feature, you no longer have to remember to manually save the file regularly.
However, the Office 365 automatic saving feature sometimes can interrupt the way OneDrive syncs other files. You may receive an Upload Blocked message from OneDrive if this is happening.
You can turn off the Office 365 automatic saving feature to solve this problem. Click the OneDrive cloud icon in the notification bar, followed by Settings.
Across the top of the popup window, click the Office tab. Remove the checkmark from the Sync Office Files checkbox, and the automatic save will stop.
Once OneDrive appears to be synching properly again, you can try resynching your Office files again to see if the problem resolves itself.
5. OneDrive Account Approaching Storage Capacity
As you begin to approach the storage limit for your OneDrive account, you may notice some synching problems. The OneDrive cloud icon will have a yellow triangle with an exclamation point on it when you are running out of storage.
If you exceed your storage limit for more than three months, Microsoft will freeze your account until you remove some items and go below your storage limit again or until you purchase more storage. (A locked OneDrive account will have a red circle and a white minus sign on the OneDrive cloud icon.)
After removing some files, you may want to prevent your account from approaching the storage limit in the future by telling OneDrive to sync fewer files automatically.
To change the folders that sync automatically, click on the OneDrive icon, followed by Settings. Click on the Account tab near the top of the popup window, followed by Choose Folders. Then place checkmarks next to the folders you want to use with OneDrive sync and remove checkmarks next to the folders you don’t want to sync with OneDrive.
6. Update OneDrive to the Latest Version
OneDrive should automatically update itself as Microsoft makes changes to the app and software. However, it is possible that through some glitch, you could end up with an older version of OneDrive on your device, which causes problems with synching files.
Update your version of OneDrive to the latest version, ensuring that you have all of the latest features and security patches. Visit the OneDrive download page to download the latest version of the app. After the download, follow the on-screen prompts to reinstall the app.
7. Update Windows to the Latest Version
If you do not have the latest version of Windows, your OneDrive sync process may not work properly. Windows should update automatically for you, but if it doesn’t, this could lead to synching problems.
You can manually tell Windows to update itself, ensuring you have the latest features and all security patches.
Click the Start button, followed by Settings. Then click Update & Security. At the top of the Windows Update screen, you should see an icon that tells you whether your version of Windows is up to date. If it isn’t, click the Check for Updates button. If necessary, follow the prompts to install your updates.
8. Resolving Synching Conflicts
If OneDrive is having difficulty synching a certain file, you may see an error message, or the OneDrive icon may have a yellow triangle on it. This problem may occur because the copy of the file stored locally and the copy stored in the cloud have some sort of incompatibility, preventing OneDrive from synching them.
To test whether the problem you’re having relates to a synching resolution conflict, right-click on the cloud icon with the yellow triangle. If you see Resolve as an option in the popup menu, one of your OneDrive files has a synching conflict. Left-click on the option that fits your situation.
- Open to resolve: You can see both versions of the file and choose the one you want to save to OneDrive.
- Save a copy: You can save a copy of the file that you have stored locally in a non-OneDrive synched folder. You then can tell OneDrive to sync the copy that’s in the cloud.
- Discard: When selecting Discard, you’re telling OneDrive to remove the copy of the file on your local hard drive and only retain the copy on the cloud server.
9. Restart OneDrive
Sometimes, a simple restart of the OneDrive app will be enough to make it begin synching properly again.
Click on the OneDrive cloud icon in the notification tray, followed by More. Click Close OneDrive. (You may have to go through these steps twice, depending on your OneDrive settings.)
Click the Start button in Windows and find the OneDrive app. Click on it, which will restart it and may work to fix your synching problems with OneDrive.
10. Problems With OneDrive for Business
If you’ve used OneDrive for Business for a long time, you may be using an older version of the synching app with an executable file called Groove.exe. However, Microsoft stopped supporting Groove.exe recently, meaning it will no longer work to sync your OneDrive files.
Install the latest version of OneDrive, as we described in step number six. As long as you have the latest version of the OneDrive app, it should replace the Groove.exe file and allow you to begin synching again.
11. No Amount of Troubleshooting Is Working
As a last resort, if you simply cannot make the OneDrive sync feature work, you can unlink OneDrive from the device you’re currently using and reinstall OneDrive to gain access to your files. You also can reset OneDrive. (Uninstalling or resetting OneDrive does not delete the files in your cloud storage account.)
Click the OneDrive cloud icon in the notifications area, followed by Help & Settings. Click Settings from the popup menu and click Unlink This PC.
This action will open the OneDrive setup process. Follow the prompts on the screen to reinstall OneDrive on your device. Hopefully, this reset of the OneDrive system will take care of the problems you’re having with OneDrive sync.
If reinstalling OneDrive doesn’t work, you can reset it. Press the Windows key and R at the same time. Enter one of the two following text strings in the Run text box:
%localappdata%\Microsoft\OneDrive\onedrive.exe /reset or C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft OneDrive\onedrive.exe /reset
Click the OK button. Once you reset OneDrive, you may have to go through the OneDrive setup process again.