Fix Microsoft OneDrive sync problems

If you have a Microsoft ID, and there can be few people that don’t (Outlook.com, Xbox Live etc.), you have access to OneDrive online storage. You get 15GB free from Microsoft in which to store your files. It is even baked into Windows 8.1 and you can access OneDrive from Explorer. Files placed in the OneDrive folder on the disk drive should be synced to OneDrive online and vice versa, but occasionally something goes wrong and one or more files won’t sync. What can you do?

View sync problems

A file that appears online in OneDrive, but not on the PC’s disk drive in Explorer, or a file in Explorer that can’t be seen online, but is on the disk drive is obviously faulty. In Explorer, files that won’t sync have a double arrow icon to indicate a problem. Have you seen any icons with double arrows? You have sync problems if you have. Right click the OneDrive folder in Explorer and if View sync problems is available on the menu, you have a sync problem. Selecting the menu can provide clues about the fault.

OneDrive sync problems

Rename the file

The first thing to do if you have a OneDrive sync problem is to rename any file on the PC'd disk or online that will not sync. Right click them and select Rename. Delete the whole of the name and replace it with something simpler, like ‘test’. Sometimes special characters are in the name and that are supported online but not offline, or offline but not online. Right click the SkyDrive folder and select Sync. If it now syncs you will know it was the name.

Search service

An odd thing about OneDrive is that it will not work properly if the Windows Search service is disabled. Press Windows+R and enter services.msc. See if Widows Search is running. If it isn’t, double click it and set the Startup type to Automatic. Start the service using the Start button.

Windows Search service

Check the engine

The OneDrive Sync Engine must be running in order for it to sync, which sounds obvious, but you do need to check. Right click the taskbar on the desktop and select Task Manager. On the Processes tab, look down the list of items for OneDrive Sync Engine. I’m not sure what can be done if it isn’t. It should start automatically with Windows, so restart the computer if it isn’t in Task Manager. Press Windows+R and enter skydrive.exe to start OneDrive if it isn’t running.

Reset OneDrive

If there are still problems syncing files with OneDrive, try resetting it. Press Windows+R and enter skydrive.exe /reset. This will not delete any files, but it causes OneDrive to check them all and sync online and offline storage.

Use the troubleshooter

There is a OneDrive troubleshooter app at the Microsoft website. Download it and double click the file in the Downloads folder it if nothing has worked so far. Just click the Next button and follow the prompts to apply any repairs that are necessary.

Microsoft OneDrive repair tool


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 Hopefully, OneDrive should now be working and syncing properly. Syncing is just one issue you might have with OneDrive and if you have ever overwritten a file with a new version and wished you could go back to the original, here is how to restore a previous version on OneDrive. The sharing facilities are useful, but are you sharing too much on OneDrive? It could be a problem. If your backup software has problems backing up the OneDrive folder on the disk, here is the solution.

6 Comments on Fix Microsoft OneDrive sync problems

  1. Chaitanya // 2015/03/28 at 07:33 //

    Hi restarting windows service worked for me.. this is really weird. Every day I shutdown my laptop and start the other day. Why isnt this service giving a prb? if i hibernate or sleep my pc, that must make sense, but I shutdown and start my laptop..

  2. Donn Fishburn // 2015/04/01 at 01:33 //

    Every help article I find says to be sure skydrive.exe is running. I downloaded and ran OneDriveSetup.exe. In Task Manager I see OneDrive.exe *32 running. I have a separate hard drive with that has all the files I want to back up to OneDrive. When I ran the setup a new folder was created C:\users\name\OneDrive so I copied the files to be backed up to the OneDrive folder. I now have all the folders on the OneDrive storage site, but none of the files.

    • OneDrive can be slow to sync, so after setting it up and copying all the files, how long did you wait? It sounds like you have a lot of files and because upload speeds are 1/10 of download speeds, it takes a long time to upload. Give it a few hours or maybe leave it running all day and all night if there are gigabytes of files.

      • I realized after some time that it was syncing VERY slowly. We live pretty far out and our internet is not real fast to begin with. After 48+ hours 6.8GB of 14GB have uploaded. I assume that once the files are uploaded the first time future syncs will be much quicker. Is the OneDrive folder on the PC automatically synced with the online Onedrive when files are added or deleted?

  3. A word of warning.

    OneDrive for Business is the most faulty application I have ever seen.
    I have installed it on 14 PC’s and 1 terminalserver, and have had every error in the book.

    1. Cannot synchronize this offline library. No hint what so ever.
    2. Cannot sync open files, and a long list of files. But there are no open files, and they
    have never been opened during the session.
    You can not use the repair function, because, of, yes, open files.
    3. Syncing all the time, never finishes.
    4. Some files are just not synced at all.
    5. Cache is corrupt.
    6. Asks for username and password, but does not accept either

    To summarize solutions are
    1. Do a repair using the repair function
    2. Clear the cache
    3. Restart PC.
    4. Antivirus issue
    5 Firewall issue
    6. Uninstall and install OneDrive (Which is not applicable on a terminalserver.
    Normally the private version of OneDrive works, but dont let you fool. OneDrive for business is a another story,
    I have not able to identify just one single fault.

    I am very embarrassed since I recommended the solution. 2-3 times a week I get a call from one
    of the 14 clients saying it does not work AGAIN!.

    So, all admins, dont buy this crappy software, you will defenately regret it.
    Microsoft off course knows about these errors, but keeps the software on the market,

Comments are closed.