Microsoft OneDrive Screws the Pooch

Having OneDrive on a non-NTFS partition is no longer allowed…

Over the past week or so, many, but not all, Microsoft OneDrive users have been dealing with a very confusing and very troubling issue regarding Microsoft OneDrive – If your OneDrive data store is on any other volume other than an NTFS volume, OneDrive will stop synching and display the following error message

OneDrive Error Message

Like many Windows users, during the week of 2017-06-25 through 2017-07-01, everything was fine. My Surface Book and OneDrive were working as expected. With the extended Independence Day holiday here in the States, most users – myself included – were off between 2017-06-30 through 2017-07-04. My first day back to work that week was Wednesday 2017-07-05. I didn’t have my Surface Book out that day, as my day had me pretty much confined to my desk due to my extended holiday break. While my work PC has OneDrive on it, my synched files are on the main drive, and its formatted to NTFS already.

The next day, I was greeted with the error message dialog box shown above. I was totally taken by surprise and really didn’t know what to do. So, I took to Twitter, and asked one of my most reliable contacts, Mary Jo Foley if she knew what was going on. She did, and the news was both good and bad.

OneDrive NTFS

It was nice to know that the issue was known and that someone had tried to start a conversation with Microsoft on it. What I found disturbing, was that Microsoft was – and still is – virtually nonexistent on the thread. They haven’t replied at ALL to any of the users looking for any kind of answers. However, one user – Jeremy Chu – did get an answer to the inquiry he made directly with Microsoft. I’ve reproduced it in its entirety, here:

Hi,

We stopped supporting non-NTFS file systems. This is affecting users with FAT32, Exeats and ReFS file systems. Users can get unblocked by converting the drive to NTFS.

Basically all you have do is, from a command prompt, type:

convert D: /fs:ntfs (if the drive in question is currently d:\)

Or visit – http://odsp.westeurope.cloudapp.azure.com/qq/onedrive-sync-client-pushed-out-a-change-where-we/ to get more insights!!!

Unfortunately, if you were unable to do so, contact our windows support team : https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/contact/menu/

Thanks,
OneDrive Team

It’s nice that Microsoft has finally acknowledged the issue; but it took them over four days to do so; and to be honest, the thread that I’m referencing is the OFFICIAL issue thread, and they haven’t responded there at all.

At all…

As far as many of us are concerned on that thread, their lack of communication was making many think that this is a simple bump in the road; and that at some point, Microsoft would “correct” the problem. With the response that Jeremy got, that’s clearly NOT the case. And it’s very unfortunate.

Now… there are a couple of issues here. I haven’t really jumped on my rant soapbox this month, at least not until now, so please bear with me. I’m going to cover them as quickly as I can.

Terms of Service
There has to be an out for Microsoft in the OneDrive Terms of Service that basically says,

“we provide the service (even if you pay for it); and you’ll use what you’re given, the way we give it to you, or you can go elsewhere.” Or in more legal terms,

“we reserve the right to change the way the service works as we see fit, with or without any notice to you”

And if this is the case, AND you agreed to those terms of service before you started using Microsoft OneDrive, then you have little to no recourse in the matter. In truth, if you didn’t agree to the service’s terms of service, you wouldn’t be in the boat, because you wouldn’t be using it. You can’t use the service without agreeing to its terms, first. Which brings me to my second point…

Communications
Like many users, this likely wouldn’t have been an issue or a problem at all – provided that Microsoft had communicated the change – giving users the opportunity to prepare for the change. There may be some OneDrive users – and I’m thinking specifically of OneDrive for Business users – that may not be able to convert their drives to NTFS for one reason or another

If there had been some kind of notice on this, many would have had the chance to prepare for the change and either convert their drives – via the process outlined by the OneDrive Team, above – or to just blow the old data store and resync everything.

However, without any kind of heads up or official notice from Microsoft that the change was coming, many users were caught off guard… which is problematic. You never want to catch your users off guard. While the service owner can do almost anything they want once they Terms of Service are accepted by a customer, there is an aspect of service interruptions and uptime that needs to be addressed, and unfortunately, the way this initially appeared, despite the error dialog box, above, this appeared as an outage and not as the dropping of support for non-NTFS formatted drives on local data stores.

Bad form, Microsoft. Bad form!

What about other platforms??
The one big thing that I see missing here, is any kind of statement from Microsoft on how this change effects other platforms – like macOS. macOS uses HSF+ and ApFS (Apple File System) and Microsoft hasn’t said anything about how the switch to NFTS will or will not affect Macs and Mac users using OneDrive for Mac.

Then again, they also haven’t said if this has anything to do with Files on Demand or any other feature, either. Though to be honest, it like does have something to do with some OneDrive updates that are scheduled to hit in the Fall Creators Update (FCU).

However, what’s really kind of confusing is whether or not OneDrive’s NTFS requirement also excludes drives formatted with ReFS or Microsoft’s Resilient File System. ReFS is close to NTFS, but apparently doesn’t support one of the big features that OneDrive needs – reparse points. If this is the case, the question that is begged here is whether or not OneDrive will work (or continue to work) with ReFS; or better yet why Microsoft hasn’t updated ReFS to work with OneDrive.

Did you bump into this problem over the past week or so? Did you have OneDrive synching your data to an SD card or to an older, external drive that was formatted as FAT32? How did you resolve the issue? Did you do what I did and just knuckled under and reformatted the drive and resynchronized? Or did you convert the drive? Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area below, and let me know? I’d love to hear from you!

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Five of the Best Windows 10 Creator’s Update Features

These are the best features you’re likely to find as part of Microsoft’s Windows 10 Creator’s Update.

Microsoft released the Creator’s Update on 2017-04-11. Unfortunately, the rollout of this update hasn’t completed yet, as there are still a great many PC’s that have not received it yet, including my Surface Book. However, that doesn’t mean that those that have it won’t absolutely love it. Along with increased stability and performance enhancements, there are a few cool features that bare mentioning. I’ve pulled those and have a quick blurb on each.

• Night Light
Night Light is a new, time based Windows 10 feature that reduces blue light coming out of your display. If you compute in the evening, Night Light is supposed to help you sleep better. The introduction of blue light on the eyes and brain is said to increase brain activity. Night Light reduces blue light emitted from your display (be it built in or external), giving you the chance at a better night’s sleep. This reduction of blue light is also supposed to be easier on your eyes, especially in the lower lighting conditions often found in your home during the evening hours.
• Animated Doodles
Everyone loves taking photos. With the introduction of the smartphone, everyone has a camera with them, literally, all day long. Customizing your photos is often a huge pass time and something that nearly everyone loves to do. Thanks to Windows Photos, you now have a new customization option open to you.

After importing your photos into Windows Photos, open one up. You will see a “Draw” option near the top of the window. Click the option, and you’ll be able to choose a pen type. Draw what you want on top of the photo and then click Save. Click Play, and Windows Photos will replay the drawing actions you just completed on top of your photo. If you’re so inclined, you can share you’re photo and animated doodle with your friends through one of your favorite apps.
• Game Mode
The Windows 10 Creators Update improves gaming performance and provides a better overall gaming experience. If you have a powerful computer with a modern CPU and at least 16GB RAM, then you’re likely not going to see much of an improvement in gaming. However, if you have a laptop or other computer that wasn’t necessarily meant for gaming, you may see at least a 10% performance bump and better FPS (frames per second) rating . You should also see better performance from apps running in the back ground while gaming.
• Paint 3D
With the Creators Update, Paint got a significant update. Paint can now easily create entire 3D scenes. You can also now, ink things on Bing Maps and measure distances and make notes related to landmarks and other points of interest. It also includes a mini-view feature that allows you to keep UWP (Universal Windows Platform) apps to open in tiny dedicated windows while you do other tasks.
• Pause Windows Updates
The big thing about Windows 10 and its updates is that, well.. you get ’em whether you want them or not… whether you’re ready for them or not. That’s the way the OS is designed. You get updates when the OS and when MS want you to get them.

The problem with this is that without your direct input, you could lose important data, or find yourself locked out of your PC when you really need it. Thankfully, Microsoft saw that potential problem and has designed a way of stopping the force feeding. With the Creators Update, you get more control over when Windows 10 is updated.

When an update is ready to install, Windows displays a large notification with three options – Restart now, Pick a time [to restart], or Snooze. You can’t dismiss the notification without picking an option. If you choose Snooze, you get a three day pass on the update; and you can hit Snooze as many times as you want. If you snooze an update for 35 days, Windows 10 won’t push the update to you without you first agreeing to the install; but it will change Snooze to Remind Me Tomorrow. This is perhaps one of the most important new features in the Windows 10 Creators Update.

Windows 10 Update Assistant
Have you gotten the Windows 10 Creators Update yet? Have you paused any updates? With Microsoft’s Windows 10 Creators Update still rolling out to PCs across the planet, it’s hard to say if and when everyone will be able to experience these great updates. For example, the only way I can get the Creators Update on my Surface Book is to either force it with the Windows 10 Update Assistant.

The Update Assistant is a downloadable executable that allows you to pull down the update itself so it installs on your computer; or will allow you to download an image that you can burn to a DVD or to a USB stick that will install Windows 10 Creators Update from scratch. If you choose this latter option, you will need a computer with a transferable license (one that can be upgraded to Windows 10); or you’ll need to purchase a product key.

If you opt to use the Windows 10 Update Assistant, you’ll need to be a more experienced Windows user. You’ll need to be able to troubleshoot update issues and problems on your own. For example, I forced the Windows 10 Update, and things ultimately went sideways about three to four weeks post update. I have no idea what happened. I don’t really care. All I know is that I had to reset my Surface Book, wiping all of the data, taking it back to factory fresh. That was about three weeks ago, and I have yet to get any kind of signal that my Surface Book can or will update itself to the Creators Update anytime soon. Windows Update is offering me the Windows 10 Update Assistant again, and to be honest, I’m not eager to jump on that boat again.

The Creators Update in and of itself is really great. I enjoyed using it, over the Anniversary Update. I think it’s must more stable and my Surface Book was noticeably faster with it. However, as I’ve found with Microsoft, it’s the route of the journey and not necessarily the journey itself or even the destination that’s the issue. The road you take will really determine what happens to you after you get there. That’s what happened to me.

If you’re using the Windows 10 Creators Update, I’d love to hear what your favorite features are. You obviously know what ones l like best. Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area and let me know what your favorites are as well as how you got there.

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Waxing iNostalgic – iPhone’s 10th Anniversary

I’ve got very specific memories of using Apple’s early iPhones…

I’ve been an iPhone user for quite a long time. In fact, I covered iPhone 3G Day for Gear Diary’s Judie Lipset Stanford back in the day when I helped her get Gear Diary off the ground as writer number 3 for the site (Judie was writer number 1, Mitchel Oke was writer number 2…). Back then, Gear Diary was really a mobile first site, covering any and all mobile technologies. I wrote a lot for her between 2006 and 2008.

In July of 2008, I stood in line at a local AT&T store and picked up an 8GB iPhone 3G. It was the big boy back in its day, and it was the BOMB… or so I thought. I ended up selling the device just three months later. It wasn’t a hard decision to make, as I recall. At the time, I had had just about enough.

At that time, AT&T had a HUGE wireless coverage problem. At the time, no one seemed to be able to understand that a wireless internet device was only as good as the coverage it needed for internet connectivity. I, however, put two and two together, and made the “3G light bulb” come on for many bloggers. At the time, someone submitted my article to Slashdot, and Gear Diary came down as a result of the entire internet reading the article… apparently, all at the same time. It was very exciting, but very troubling for the site, as we tried to figure out how to keep it from falling over due to the avalanche of traffic.

Ultimately, it was AT&T’s numerous coverage issues that caused me to dump my iPhone 3G. To be honest, I just couldn’t take it any longer. When you’re sitting completely still, and your call drops 8 times in under 30 minutes, something has to change. That kind of connectivity problem didn’t exist with other smartphones at the time. I sold my iPhone 3G and was much, much happier.

However, I recognized and realized that the formula that Apple was working on would eventually gain ground over both Blackberry and PocketPC (Microsoft), the two industry leaders at the time, and had mixed feelings about my sold iPhone soon after. However, I was determined to wait it out.

I came back to iPhone with the iPhone 4S, three full revisions later (the iPhone 3Gs and the iPhone 4 were released prior to the iPhone 4S). By that point, Apple’s ecosystem of apps, music and video content had matured enough that it was a much more compelling smartphone choice; AND more importantly, AT&T had done a great deal of clean up on their network coverage issues. I’ve been a consistent iPhone user since the release of the iPhone 4S, and so has the rest of my family.

With 2017 being the 10th anniversary of Apple’s iconic iPhone, I’m looking forward to the release of whatever they end up designating as their 10th Anniversary model, be that the iPhone 8, the iPhone X. By any name, it’s bound to be an iconic device, and definitely one for the history books.

Stick around, kids. I’ve got some really fun and interesting Apple related updates and reviews coming in the next week or so.

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MacSales Introduces 2.0TB Aura Pro SSD

MacBook Pro upgrades are few and far between; and you NEED to look at this one, long and hard…

I’ve been using Apple computers since 2006 when Apple made the switch from PowerPC chips to Intel. At that point, due in large part to Apple’s Boot Camp, it made perfect sense. Back during this time, it was really easy to upgrade nearly every Mac. Today, Apple’s Boot Camp even supports Windows 10, continuing to make it a perfect multiplatform solution.

In 2012, Apple released the retina MacBook Pro. This display change signaled not only a change in Apple display technology, but a change in its notebook architecture. At this point, according to Apple, the MacBook Pro was no longer user upgradable.

That is… until now.

On 2017-06-26, MacSales and OWC (Other World Computing) announced the availability of a 2.0TB SSD upgrade for the mid-2012 to early 2013 Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display. This particular upgrade is a HUGE deal. OWC and MacSales are one of the very few providers of upgrades for this class of MacBook Pro notebook. The upgrade comes in two flavors – one with an external enclosure and one without.

The Aura Pro 2.0TB SSD upgrade frees up and boosts capacity on the internal hard drive – at over five years of MacBook Pro ownership. The Aura Pro drive is also available as a kit with an Envoy Pro enclosure to immediately reuse an Apple internal hard drive, creating a new external USB 3.1 Gen1 portable drive. This is the perfect upgrade for a middle aged Mac, as it increases storage by at least 1TB (for those MacBook Pros that came with a native 1.0TB internal SSD).

aura

The Aura SSD line is a professional storage line that offers increased performance not only over the native SSD, but other SSD replacements. It also provides

The Aura Pro SSD offers a wide range of industry-leading controller technologies for performance and reliability, including:
• Global wear leveling algorithm automatically distributes data evenly and manages program/erase count, maximizing SSD lifespan.
• StaticDataRefresh technology manages free space, gradually refreshing data across the SSD over time, enhancing data integrity.
• Hardware BCH ECC corrects errors up to 66-bit/1KB for superior data retention and drive health.
• Best-in-class power consumption.
• Advanced security protocols support AES 128/256-bit full-drive encryption.
The cost of the 2.0TB Aura Pro is $899.99 USD for the drive only. If you’re looking for the kit with the Envoy Pro enclosure, it will set you back a cool $939.99 USD.

I had an Aura Pro 480GB SSD for the Late 2012 MacBook Air that I had for a couple of years. The performance of that drive was totally awesome. The performance bump on that i5 based Mac was definitely noticeable and a huge boon. It was more than worth the cost of the drive.

I am currently working with OWC and MacSales to see if I can get one of these drives for review. I will let you know how that effort goes. It will be a nice contrast review against the Mid 2017 15″ MacBook Pro and OWC/ MacSales USB-C Dock and Thunderbolt 3 Dock that I have waiting in the wings.

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Top 10 Tips to Avoid Malware

In light of the latest bit of ransomware – Petya – here are tips to prevent getting hacked

The latest bit of ransomware – dubbed Petya – is currently running through banks, financial institutions and healthcare facilities in both Asia and Europe. The bug, like most ransomware, encrypts corporate data by encrypting hard drives, preventing access to needed data and computer systems. It also seems to have crossed the pond and entered the US.

Pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck reported that it had become infected with the malware as did multinational law firm DLA Piper, which counts over 20 different offices in the United States. Heritage Valley Health Systems, a health care network that runs two hospitals in Western Pennsylvania, also confirmed in a statement to Recode on Tuesday to be the victim of the same ransomware attack that has spread around the globe.

Petya in and of itself is a bit problematic in that this particular bug has the ability to adapt and mutate quickly, often working around patches that have been released by operating system and anti-malware vendors alike. With Petya, it’s difficult to insure your computing systems stay malware free. Anti-malware and OS vendors are having a great deal of trouble staying ahead of the game.

So, what’s the best way to stay Petya (as well as other phishing and ransomware infections) free? The best advice I can give ANYONE is to follow these top 10 computer security tips.

1. What’s in a Name?
Just because you see an email in your inbox from a name you recognize doesn’t mean they sent it to you. Be wary of all email in your inbox. Inspect the email address. If it looks suspicious or if you don’t recognize the domain (the wording after the “at sign” – for example @microsoft.com), don’t open it. Delete it immediately.
2. Look but don’t Click
Hover your mouse over any embedded links in any of the emails you receive. Don’t click before you do. A tool tip should appear showing the actual email address, or in the case of browser based clients, the address should display in the status bar at the bottom of your browser window. If the address isn’t one you recognize or if it looks strange, again, don’t click it.
3. Check for Spelling or Grammar Mistakes
Legitimate messages don’t have major spelling errors or clumsily structured sentences. If the message reads strangely and strikes you as unprofessional, its likely a fake. Delete it.
4. Analyze the Salutation
Messages from financial institutions will always address you by your name. They’re never going to call you, “Valued Customer.” If you get something like this from one of your financial institutions, I’d delete it and ignore it.
5. Don’t Give out Your Personal Information
Legitimate companies will never ask you to provide identity information or credentials via email. EVER.
6. Beware of Urgent or Threatening Language in the Subject Line of any eMail
Invoking fear via threatening or urgent language is a common phishing tactic. Be wary of any email indicating that your “account has been suspended,” or your account has had an “unauthorized login attempt.” There’s an excellent chance the emails are bogus.
7. Review the Signature Line
Lack of details about the signer or the absence of their contact information at the end of the message strongly suggests a phishing attempt
8. Don’t Click on Attachments
Malware payloads are often embedded in email attachments. Don’t open any you weren’t expecting, even from someone you know. Contact them offline, if possible, and confirm they sent you the attachment.
9. Don’t Trust the Information in an eMail Header
Hackers are smart enough now a days to spoof not only the display name, but the mail header as well. Even if you know how to check this information, you may not be able to validate it as genuine, so don’t bother. Assume this information is fraudulent in any suspect email.
10. Don’t Believe Anything you see
This is NOT your father’s internet any more. The world is hell bent on stealing everything you own and could own in the future (your identity, your credit, etc.), so the best defense is a strong offense – don’t trust anyone or anything you suspect is illegitimate. It may look valid, but it’s better to err on the side of caution that to spend the next 8 to 14 months straightening out your credit because you were the victim of a phishing attack. If you have even the slightest doubt or it even remotely looks suspicious, don’t open the message.

The point of all of this is that THIS particular piece of malware REQUIRES diligence.

Petya is rapidly changing. Its mutating and adapting to patches and detection engines in popular and well known, professional grade malware prevention products. You HAVE to be careful here, or you may end up losing everything on your PC.

Aside from the above, you should also do the following proactive steps on a regular basis. (start NOW if you haven’t done these yet, and insure that you do it malware free):

1. Install and Run an Anti-Malware Package
I have used a number of different packages over the years. Right now, one of my favorites is IOBIT Advanced SystemCare 10 Pro. Regardless of what you use, get one, install it, and use it… often.
2. Get your data on a cloud service
Whether we’re talking productivity files (Word, Excel, etc.) or pictures and home movies, it doesn’t matter. Get your data synchronizing with a cloud service so that you have an easy way to get your data back if it gets taken hostage.
3. Start a Local Backup Regimen
Macs have Time Machine. Windows users have Windows Backup; or you can use AOMEI Backuper and AOMEI Image Deploy. However, any way you cut it, you need to start and execute a local backup plan.
4. Start an Off-Site Backup Regimen
In order to do this, you need an off-site back up service like Carbonite or Backblaze. These low cost, subscription based services allow you to back up your computer over the internet and allow you to do a simple restore as well via the internet or via a hard drive that you can order and have delivered to you.

So, in summary:

1. Trust your Gut. Don’t open goofy looking email. Just delete them
2. Backup your data
3. Install and run an antimalware app

Have you gotten hit by ransomware? Have you paid the ransom, or have you just blown or replaced the drive and started over? I’d love to hear from you if you have gotten bitten. If you have, hit me up in the Discussion area, below, and tell me all about it.

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