When files stored on OneDrive aren't syncing on your Windows 10 PC, it's likely a problem with the desktop sync app, and in this guide, we'll help you fix the issue.

Although, Microsoft touts OneDrive as the best cloud storage experience in Windows 10 to store and sync your personal documents and settings across your devices, sometimes the desktop client sync app won't work as it should.

Since the cloud storage service has gone through some changes, reports from users about syncing related problems has been increasing. Users have been reporting issues uploading photos, the OneDrive desktop sync app on Windows 10 not connecting, sync problems after upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 8.1, and then just simply not being able to sync files between devices.

While the company proactively continues to work to improve its cloud storage service with every new update that rolls out, in this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the suggested Microsoft solutions to help you fix OneDrive sync problems.

Before fixing OneDrive sync issues

  • Make sure you have Windows 10 and OneDrive running the latest update. You can check for update on Settings > Update & security > Windows Update.
  • Make sure the file to sync is not larger than 10GB, which is the current size limit for the service.

1. Restart the OneDrive sync client app on your PC

If OneDrive isn't syncing any file or folder, the first thing you want to try is to reset the desktop sync client app.

  1. On the notification area, right-click the OneDrive (cloud) icon. (If you don't see the icon, click the Show hidden icons up arrow button on the far-left side of the notification area.)
  2. Click the Exit option.

  3. On the dialog box prompt click the Close OneDrive button.
  4. Open the Start menu, do a search for OneDrive, and open the desktop app. (This will open the OneDrive folder indicating that the app is running.)

2. Check if your OneDrive account is connected to Windows 10

When OneDrive isn't syncing, you want to make sure your account is connected to Windows 10, and you also want to ensure you're using the correct Microsoft Account.

  1. Use the Windows key + I keyboard shortcut to open the Settings app.
  2. Select Settings > Accounts > Your email and accounts
  3. If the account is not connected, click the Sign in with a Microsoft account instead option.

  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to switch to your Microsoft Account.

If you're not using the same Microsoft Account associated with your OneDrive account, you may want to create a new account using the correct credentials related to the cloud storage service. You can use this guide to learn how to manage user accounts in Windows 10.

3. Make sure you select OneDrive folders to sync

OneDrive has gone through a lot of changes lately, placeholders are gone and so is automatic syncing. In Windows 10, Microsoft has moved to selective sync, which means that you have to select manually the files and folders you want to sync before you can download or upload anything.

If you have just upgraded to Windows 10 from Windows 8.1, you can select the folders and files you want to sync using the following instructions.

  1. On the notification area, right-click the OneDrive (cloud) icon. (If you don't see the icon, click the Show hidden icons up arrow button on the far-left side of the notification area.)
  2. Select the Settings option.

  3. Click on the Account tab.
  4. Click the Choose folders button.

  5. Select either the Sync all files and folders in my OneDrive or select the files and folders you want to sync to your computer.

  6. Click OK to save the new changes.

Note: Keep in mind that if you don't choose to sync all your OneDrive folders when someone else shares a new folder or file, the new content won't sync with your computer until you manually select it to do so.

4. Complete the OneDrive setup process

In case you're on a brand new computer, your files may not be syncing because you probably haven't finished the OneDrive configuration.

  1. Use the Windows key + E keyboard shortcut to open Explorer.
  2. Click the OneDrive (blue) folder from the left pane to open the wizard.

  3. Select the folders and files you want to sync to complete the setup.

5. Keep file path short in OneDrive

Another factor that can cause OneDrive not to sync some data is the length of the path. According to Microsoft, the path, including the filename, should not exceed 255 characters.

Long file path example: C:\Users\You_User_Name\Pictures\EveryYear\2016\
January\Holiday\Christmas\Home\This_is_my_picture_with_a_long_name.jpg

You can try making the file name shorter and avoid having too many subfolders, inside of subfolders, by bringing folders closer to the root directory.

6. Check your PC's available storage space

OneDrive no longer offers placeholders to indicate content that is only available with an internet connection, which means that your computer must have (at least) the same amount of available space as the storage you're using in OneDrive. Otherwise, if you don't have enough available local storage, OneDrive won't sync your files.

To make more room on your computer's hard drive, move or delete some of your files on your computer.

  1. Check the amount of storage you're currently using on OneDrive and compare it to the available hard drive space in your computer on, and delete or move files as necessary.

  2. Click on Start, search for OneDrive to open the desktop client sync app.
  3. Follow the instructions to select the files you want to sync to your computer and choose the location to sync your personal files.

Bonus: How to use Disk Cleanup on Windows 10

You can also use the Disk Cleanup tool built in Windows to free up disk space, which you can easily do with the following instructions:

  1. Use the Windows key + E keyboard shortcut to open Explorer.
  2. Click This PC from the left pane.
  3. Right-click the hard drive you want to sync your files, and select Properties.

  4. Click the Disk Cleanup button.

  5. Click Clean up system files.

  6. Select the files you want to delete. If applicable, you also want to check the Previous Windows Installations item too.
  7. Click OK.

  8. Click the Delete files button on the dialog box.

Note: It's worth pointing out that if you delete the previous Windows installation files, you will no longer be able to roll back to the previous version of the operating system.

7. Check for conflicting files or folders in the same location

You may come across conflicts if you are making changes to a folder with files trying to sync, or when you try to upload multiple files using the OneDrive web experience. If you notice conflicting content, rename the files or folders, and try syncing one more time.

8. Unlink OneDrive and start over

There could be an issue with your account settings on your computer that is preventing OneDrive to sync your files. If this is the case, you can unlink your account and go through the setup wizard one more time.

  1. On the notification area, right-click the OneDrive (cloud) icon. (If you don't see the icon, click the Show hidden icons up arrow button on the far-left side of the notification area.)
  2. Select Settings.

  3. Click the Unlink OneDrive button.

  4. The desktop sync app will launch and follow the instructions to select the files you want to sync to your computer and choose the location to sync your personal files.

9. When nothing else is working, reset OneDrive

When you have tried everything and nothing seems to fix the sync issue. You can reset the OneDrive desktop client sync app.

  1. Use the Windows key + X keyboard shortcut to open the Power User menu, and select Command Prompt (Admin).
  2. Type the following command: %localappdata%\Microsoft\OneDrive\onedrive.exe /reset and hit Enter.

  3. Make sure the OneDrive icon is no longer visible in the taskbar's notification area (bottom right corner) to verify the command worked.

  4. According to Microsoft, the icon should re-appear after two minutes. If it doesn't re-appear, open Start, do a search for OneDrive and hit Enter to restart the desktop sync app.

More resources

For more tips and tricks on Windows 10, and get the latest news, you can visit the following resources:

Have you come across any sync issues with OneDrive? How did you fix the problem? Tell us in the comments below.