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ScottyMcGeester's avatar

How does OneDrive work again?

Asked by ScottyMcGeester (1897points) November 14th, 2017
8 responses
“Great Question” (1points)

I never seriously used Microsoft’s OneDrive before and now I actually need to use it. I have many files I want to share on my laptop for later and instead of connecting my laptop to my desktop and doing it that way I can just move the files to OneDrive.

So I open up File Explorer and dump the files into the OneDrive directory. Then I open my laptop but see that nothing was added to the OneDrive directory. Basically, nothing seems to be syncing and it’s really confusing me.

I looked up some help online which didn’t really. . .help. But one suggestion really confused me. It said that your computer should have at least the same amount of space as your OneDrive. Huh? I thought OneDrive was independent of your computer. Isn’t it a cloud drive?

Is this not how OneDrive works? I thought you could share files within other Windows computers through OneDrive if you login with the same username. Isn’t that why it’s called “ONE DRIVE”?

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elbanditoroso's avatar

I know this isn’t directly what you asked, but consider Google Drive (which is free) instead.

Microsoft tried to be all things to everyone with OneDrive, and integrate it (or try to integrate it) into the operating system. They also pushed it on everyone like it or not. And as you have discovered, it doesn’t really work that well. This is largely because they are trying to use the various FIle Manager (Explorer) system calls to make it work.

Google Drive, on the other hand, works as a well behaved client. Yes, you can configure it to integrate with the file system (I chose not to), but it operates well independently and it doesn’t introduce the integration issues you are experiencing.

ScottyMcGeester's avatar

I’ve used Google Drive for a couple things. It takes forever though to upload large video files. At least, the last time I tried it. I guess I’ll try it again. But also the files I want to upload are like way more than 15 GB, which is what I think the limit is for Google Drive.

On a slightly different issue, Microsoft somehow screwed up my File Explorer with an update a long time ago. At least I think it’s Microsoft. It’s really annoying that when I click under “This PC” and look at Documents and Pictures, it’s not the Documents and Pictures under my actual C drive – it’s the OneDrive Documents and Pictures. I’ve tried so hard to reconfigure it but for whatever reason it just does that now. I even once removed OneDrive and it was still configured that way. Hrng.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@ScottyMcGeester – you can buy additional space on GD for not a lot of money :

My company priced GD against the other commercial guys (Hightail, Dropbox, etc.) and GD is considerably less expensive.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I use One Drive and Google Drive. I subscribe to Microsoft Office 365, so I have 100 GB of storage on One Drive. When I bought my laptop, I got Office 365, so I set it up to use One Drive as the storage from the very beginning. I’ve never had a problem with it syncing. Ever. It’s completely automatic. I’m sorry I can’t help you with the technical aspects. I hope someone more knowledgeable will come along to answer this.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have added my answer, but I thought it was relevant given the answer from @elbanditoroso about the inadequacies of One Drive. I have had zero problems with it. I love being able to access my files from any device with an Internet connection.

I have all my music stored on Google Drive. It’s a good place for that, because I can access my music from my streaming music player’s app. I have the Sonos system and love it.

To be thorough: I have a Dell PC running the latest Windows 10. I use the Chrome browser for Internet access.

Soubresaut's avatar

I’ve had a similar experience to @Hawaii_Jake. I’ve actually taken to just saving things to the OneDrive folder. That way I get a local copy and a cloud copy (can work offline, but have a back up/can access from another device).

As to why someone said you need the same space on your computer as OneDrive… It doesn’t make complete sense, you’re right. I thought maybe it had something to do with the local copies of files, but when I looked up how that worked, it said that only files you make on the device, and files you download to the device, have automatic local copies. Everything else will remain accessible via internet, stored on OneDrive (but the filenames will be visible on the computer OneDrive folders). (See explanation here. It’s a bit tangential to your main question, but you may find it useful information).

So… why not syncing? I’m not sure yet.

Have you logged into OneDrive through a web browser, to see if the files are visible there? That would give you some idea of where the problem is—did the files make it to OneDrive? Or are they sitting in the cloud and not syncing with the laptop? (Or do you already know which it is?)

ScottyMcGeester's avatar

I have the OneDrive dekstop app. When I open it, the files that show on the OneDrive directory via File Explorer are not shown on the OneDrive dekstop app.

It looks like there’s some disconnect. Lately, I get the feeling that I’m not actually saving things on OneDrive – that my PC is just putting them somewhere on my C drive. When I’ve downloaded stuff lately off the Internet, I’ve also noticed that my total gigs of data used on my actual PC is getting bigger when it should have remained the same because I’ve been adding stuff only to the OneDrive directory via File Explorer.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@ScottyMcGeester May I suggest you access your One Drive from another device like a smartphone to see if there’s anything there? It will at least answer the question as to whether or not anything is being saved.

Saving items to One Drive ought to be as simple as dragging and dropping into the folder. If that’s not causing things to upload, then I have no idea what’s going on with your system.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

When I open it, the files that show on the OneDrive directory via File Explorer are not shown on the OneDrive dekstop app

To see what files OneDrive has, open a web browser and sign in at

Regarding ” my total gigs of data used on my actual PC is getting bigger when it should have remained the same”
The files will be both on your computer and uploaded to OneDrive (You can change this in settings but worry about that later).

If OneDrive on the web shows you do not have files saved, then I am guessing either:

A) Your PC Onedrive app is not signed in to your Microsoft account
– or -
B) You have a folder folder called OneDrive (seen in File Explorer) but the OneDrive app is not pointed to that folder. You can find the location of the active OneDrive folder by right-clicking on the OneDive icon in the task bar and choosing “Open your OneDrive folder”.

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