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OneDrive rolls out differential sync to save you time and data when syncing files

Use OneDrive
Use OneDrive (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • OneDrive now supports differential syncing.
  • The feature has OneDrive only sync changes to files, rather than uploading the entire file again.
  • Differential syncing should be available now on all OneDrive platforms.

Managing your OneDrive storage just got significantly more efficient with the service's latest feature. Microsoft announced that differential syncing is now supported for all users and file types (via WinBuzzer). Differential syncing uploads changes to a file within OneDrive rather than uploading the entire file again. As a result, syncing files is faster and uses less data when you update files already stored on OneDrive.

Uploading text files and other small files might not take that long, but syncing entire libraries of assets or larger files can use a lot of bandwidth and take a long time. Differential syncing should cut that syncing time significantly.

Omar Shahine, Director of Program Management for OneDrive and SharePoint, shared the availability of the feature on Twitter. When asked which clients of OneDrive support the new feature, Shahine stated that it should work on all clients of the service.

Differential sync used to work on certain types of files within OneDrive but now works on all file types. People have requested the feature for a long time, dating back at least to a UserVoice request from August 30, 2014. A Microsoft admin responded to that request stating that the feature is now available for both personal and business users.

Commenters on that UserVoice request have pointed out that when syncing files using differential sync, the current user interface indicates that OneDrive is updating the entire file again, but the upload bar moves much quicker because it's only syncing changes to files.

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

2 Comments
  • This started rolling out last year, right? So this means the rollout is complete? And can someone get Timeline to stop giving me OneDrive links to my office documents instead of links to the local version? Ugh, I hate that so much. It opens in a browser!
  • I've read somewhere that differential sync will only work on files that are not compressed. Is this true for OneDrive as well? Most of the files we use day to day are compressed, JPG, PDF, MP3, AVI, etc. And these are the files that would take advantage of the differential sync.