Microsoft OneDrive – Use Across Three Different Operating Systems

So… what’s the deal with all the OneDrive goofiness lately??

Ya know… maybe its just me, and if that’s the case, that’s fine. However, I’m not the only one that’s stated that they’re experiencing some really strange behavior with Microsoft OneDrive lately. Its gotten so bad, that it really got in the way of me finishing my two part review of Windows 10 (Part 1, > (Part 2). I nearly lost the review more than once as changes to the article wouldn’t sync right. I think I’ve got it straightened out, but I’m still watching things very closely.

Here’s what happened, what I did, and what Microsoft needs to do.

Microsoft OneDrive

OneDrive Installs
I’ve got OneDrive installed on a number of different computers. Notice, I said computers and not PC’s. I want to call out the distinction here. I’ve got OneDrive installed on a Windows 7 machine at work, my Surface Pro 3 running Windows 10 and my MacBook Pro running OS X 10.10.4.

The key thing to note here is that I don’t have a Windows 8.x computer any longer. Any PC that I have had that OS on has been upgraded to Windows 10, including my Surface Pro 3 and My Dell Latitude ST2. This means that the sync clients I have on my Windows 7 computer, my Windows 10 computer and my MacBook Pro, are relatively equivalent. None of them have Place Holder support (those awesome stub files that were actually local short cuts to your online data.

Place Holder files basically let you see everything that you had stored in OneDrive without actually having your entire cloud drive on your local computer. Instead, the operating systems I use have a OneDrive client that has what has been generally called the “Windows 7 client” experience – You get to choose which folders sync to your local computer. You get the entire contents of that folder, and that’s it. You also must sync to a physically, internal drive location. You can’t put content on an external drive, be that a USB hard drive (external or thumb drive) or any kind of SD Card. In Windows 8.x, you can.

There’s a lot of grief wrapped around the differences in the “Windows 7 Client experience” and what happens with OneDrive in Windows 8.x. Many people really like the Windows 8.x client experience, and have issues with the fact that Microsoft deprecated it.

There are other issues that I have with the reduction in functionality, and I may address then later, but for now, its enough for everyone to know that I do not have any computer running Windows 8.x with an active OneDrive client.

All of the computers I have running OneDrive are effectively running clients with identical features and with the same sync client. They are considered to be the same version, regardless of platform.

Problems on Windows 7
I have a Windows 7 machine at work. That’s not surprising, really, considering that most computers in the Enterprise are either Windows XP or Windows 7 machines. No one put Windows 8.x en mass on computers at work. They were too difficult to use, and the learning curve was much too high to have anyone or anything be truly productive with them.

Anyway… Windows 7 at work. If you remember, Windows 7, is the base design model for OneDrive’s sync client in Windows 7, Windows 10 and OS 10. It’s also on point to know and understand that the Windows 7 machine I’m using OneDrive on is an Enterprise managed machine. This means there may be network policies in place effecting the sync, but I don’t think there are, really. I’ll get to this in a bit…

The OneDrive experience I have at work started out rather well in November of 2014. The company doesn’t block Microsoft services, as I can not only sync OneDrive, but I can sync OneNote notebooks as well, without any problems. In fact, OneNote sync flawlessly and has despite all of the other sync issues that I’ve been having… which I find very concerning. More on that in a minute…

Under Windows 7 on the work computer – which again, seems to be totally unrestricted and free to sync OneDrive without issue – I have a boat load of sync problems.

OneDrive FREQUENTLY falls out of sync with the web or fails to sync files to the web. I can manually upload files to without issue and that will sometimes resolve the sync conflicts, but often does not.

The most common problem I have is that the sync client seems to correctly identify objects that have changed either on the client side or the server side, and even transfers data back and forth. However, the file(s) in question – those that require synching – rarely, if ever, actually sync.

I have no idea what data is actually passing though the connection as I don’t’ have a packet sniffer and won’t be allowed to have one on the corporate network. This is also one of those situations where you don’t necessarily want to draw “unnecessary” attention to software you may have installed at work.

Sometimes, manually uploading content to OneDrive via its web interface solves the sync conflict. Other times it does not. Sometimes it does after deleting the local copy and letting the newly manually uploaded copy download to the appropriate folder, other times it doesn’t.

If that doesn’t work, then I usually quit OneDrive and then restart it. Sometimes that works. Other times, it doesn’t. Often, I have to completely disconnect OneDrive from this PC and then let the whole thing resync content back down to the work PC after deleting the entire local data store.

Troubleshooting Windows 7 Sync
This has been one of the most aggravating and frustrating experiences I’ve EVER had with a cloud sync data client. The problems seem to occur on newly updated files and not files that have been selected for sync, but haven’t changed. In other words, the initial sync always seems to go well. After that, things tend to degrade.

The problem here is that things either stay in a constant state of sync for one – say 54k – file, while the OneDrive sync client synchs over 20MB of data over a three week period, again, all for apparently a single 54k file. The OneNote tool tip or status window that displays on a single left mouse click to the One Drive icon in your System Tray shows that its synching xx.xMB of XX.XXMB. The time of last update can vary between as long as 4 days ago, to XX seconds ago.

Sync issues occur both on and off the corporate wired LAN, on and off the corporate wireless LAN, on my home network withOUT VPN enabled, and on my home network WITH VPN enabled.

Up to this point, I’ve been unsuccessful in detecting any kind of predictable, reproducible pattern. Things are just too random.

Problems on Windows 10
During the Windows 10 PRE-RTM Insider Preview, this was a total cluster.

At times, OneDrive was flawless. At other times, it didn’t seem anything would sync correctly. At times, the initial sync took well over 36 hours regardless of what network I was connected to (work, home or cellular) or how I was connected (wired or wireLESS). You just had to set it and forget it; as it seemed to have a mind of its own and would finish, when it was ready to finish. Period.

Post RTM, OneDrive has been much better, but interestingly enough, files that seem to be problematic in their sync on Windows 7, or appear unsynchable, also seem to take a long time to sync in Windows 10. I never have the days long synching issues of individual files on Windows 10. They usually sync after a number hours, but they often take all day to sync or are resolved with a series of reboots.

General Sync Issues
The ONLY thing that seems to be consistent with all of this is that sync issues nearly always occur with Office files. Word files are the most problematic. Whether that’s because Word is more problematic than any other OR because I tend to create or modify files more than any others is unknown. I’ve also had issues synching Excel files and to an infinitely less degree PowerPoint and Visio files, but that I think is more of a modification sync issue with those than with Excel or Word files.

Funny thing… I never had any issues synching OneDrive files on my Mac. This is seems to be a Windows based problem.

Are you having issues with OneDrive? Does it happen more with Windows 7 or Windows 10 for you? Do you use one, the other or both of these Windows operating systems at the same time, but on different machines? Are you having issues synching files with OneDrive for Mac? Are sync issues more problematic with Office files or just any ol’ file?

Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area, below, and let me know?

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