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How to Reset OneDrive Synchronization

Michael Reinders

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Cloud Computing

A OneDrive synchronization issue can cause a user to experience data loss. Learn how to reset OneDrive synchronization here.

The symptoms of OneDrive sync issues

When OneDrive is running and working as expected, it is a boon for users to keep their content synchronized and always up-to-date on all their devices. However, like with many other products, it can get ugly when things aren’t working as they should.

Some of the symptoms you may notice when the OneDrive app sync engine is NOT in a happy place are:

  • There’s a red ‘x’ on or near the OneDrive icon in your system tray or notification area.
  • You notice that recent changes you made to a file in OneDrive are not being reflected on another device or on your OneDrive website.
  • When you check on the status of syncing with the OneDrive application, there are warnings or errors referenced pointing to an issue.

What steps can you take to resolve these issues? Well, you can reset OneDrive. That essentially removes all connections/accounts you have with OneDrive from your computer and removes a bunch of configuration settings from the registry.

Try some workarounds before resetting OneDrive

But, before we go down that arguably ‘drastic’ route, let’s try some quicker workarounds first.

Try restarting OneDrive

Restarting OneDrive resolves a surprising number of syncing issues or reliability issues. All you have to do is:

  1. Right-click on the OneDrive cloud icon in your system tray (SysTray) in the lower-right corner of your screen.
  2. A OneDrive window will pop up with a smaller context menu of options. Choose Close OneDrive.
  3. A notification will pop up on the screen asking you to confirm your wish to shutdown OneDrive. Click Close OneDrive (again).
How to Close the OneDrive sync client
How to close the OneDrive application

After you confirm that OneDrive is indeed closed (you can use Task Manager to validate), click the Start button to open the Start menu, search for OneDrive, and click on it.

Searching for and launching the OneDrive app from the Start Menu
Searching for and launching the OneDrive app from the Start Menu

That will re-launch OneDrive and restart the sync engine. Hopefully, you should be in a better place already!

Check you’re not synchronizing too many files

If the OneDrive sync process seems to be stuck or is taking a ridiculously long time (hours), or the status shows something like “Processing 0KB of xMB”, it could be due to the excessive number of files in your OneDrive account or the number of files on your computer you’re wanting to sync up to the cloud. If it’s more than 100,000 files, you could run into general reliability problems. Try to lower your count.

Another simple thing you can try if syncing appears stuck is clicking on the Pause and then the Resume buttons in OneDrive. That may give the app a little kick and get the syncing ball rolling again.

Pausing and resuming the sync process in OneDrive

Make sure the file names and file types are supported

You also need to verify you’re using supported file names and file types (extensions), as there are some limitations:

  • The following characters aren’t allowed in file and folder names: ~ ” # % & * : < > ? / \ { | }.
  • Leading and trailing spaces in file or folder names also aren’t allowed.
  • The following names also aren’t allowed for files or folders: .lock, CON, PRN, AUX, NUL, COM0 – COM9, LPT0 – LPT9, _vti_, desktop.ini, and any filename starting with ~$

Temporary (TMP) files will not be synced to OneDrive. Also, Outlook .PST files are synced, but they are given a lower priority and will be synced less frequently to save network bandwidth.

And, this was pleasant news to me, but there are currently no known file types that cannot be added to a OneDrive account. So, you should be good here! As of March 2021, the maximum file upload size has also been updated to 250 GB.

Make sure you don’t have duplicate filenames

Another thing to look out for is the conflicts when you’re uploading multiple files with OneDrive at the same time, or if you made changes to a file in one location and are trying to sync the same file from another at the same time. I know, that’s a little confusing, but you catch my drift.

The helpful aspect is that you will see a warning or error when you click on the OneDrive icon. It will present you with options on how to resolve this by either renaming one of the files or deleting one of the files.

Sync issues can also occur if you edit files offline. To reduce these conflicts, simply rename some of your edited files and then save them. When the sync engine starts up again, you should be back in business.

How to reset OneDrive on Windows

Alright, well, if you’ve tried all the steps above and you’re still stuck, the last resort is to reset OneDrive. Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Open a Run dialog window by pressing the Windows key + R.
  2. Copy and paste this text into the window, and press OK – %localappdata%\Microsoft\OneDrive\onedrive.exe /reset 
  3. If you see a ‘Windows cannot find…’ message, copy and paste THIS text instead and press OK: – C:\Program Files\Microsoft OneDrive\onedrive.exe /reset 
  4. If that ALSO doesn’t work, you can try this text and press OK: – C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft OneDrive\onedrive.exe /reset 
  5. Then, manually restart OneDrive by clicking the Start button, typing in OneDrive, and clicking the OneDrive (desktop) app. You may need to log in again from scratch with your Microsoft Account or Office 365 (work or school) account.
Using the Run dialog window to reset OneDrive
Resetting OneDrive

How to reset OneDrive on macOS

If you’re on a Mac, please follow these steps.

  1. Quit OneDrive (Select the cloud icon in the top tray, click Settings -> Quit OneDrive).
  2. Find OneDrive in your Applications folder.
  3. Right-click OneDrive and select Show Package Contents.
  4. Browse to the Contents > Resources folder.
  5. Double-click ResetOneDriveApp.command (or ResetOneDriveAppStandalone.command, if you’re using the standalone app).
  6. Start OneDrive and finish the setup process.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this guide will be a helpful tool for you and your IT Pro teams to resolve general sync issues with the especially useful OneDrive application. If you have any questions or comments, please leave one below, and thanks for reading!

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