Skip to main content

14 tips to help you fix OneDrive sync problems on Windows 10

OneDrive sync problems
OneDrive sync problems (Image credit: Windows Central)

OneDrive is perhaps one of the best cloud storage experience on Windows 10 to store and sync your documents and settings across devices. But it's not a perfect system, and sometimes you'll run into problems, such as files refusing to sync.

Although you can come across many issues with OneDrive, syncing files is among the most common problems. Usually, it happens as a result of account issues, outdated client software, incorrect configuration, and software conflicts.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through several troubleshooting steps to fix problems syncing files to OneDrive on your device.

  1. How to fix sync problems with OneDrive restarting app
  2. How to fix sync problems with OneDrive connecting Microsoft account
  3. How to fix sync problems with OneDrive updating app
  4. How to fix sync problems with OneDrive checking online access
  5. How to fix sync problems with OneDrive selecting correct folders
  6. How to fix sync problems with OneDrive relocating stuck files
  7. How to fix sync problems with OneDrive understanding restrictions
  8. How to fix sync problems with OneDrive checking available storage
  9. How to fix sync problems with OneDrive freeing up local storage
  10. How to fix sync problems with OneDrive disabling throttling
  11. How to fix sync problems with OneDrive disabling security
  12. How to fix sync problems with OneDrive resetting app
  13. How to fix sync problems with OneDrive reinstalling app
  14. How to fix sync problems with OneDrive reinstalling Office

1. How to fix sync problems with OneDrive restarting app

If OneDrive isn't syncing any files, it could be a connection problem, which you may be able to fix by restarting the app.

To restart the OneDrive sync client on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Click the OneDrive button in the bottom-right corner.
  2. Click the More option.
  3. Click the Close OneDrive button.Quick tip: If you also have the OneDrive for Business app, you need to repeat steps No. 1, 2, and 3 for the remaining process.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for OneDrive and click the top result to start sync client.

Once you complete the steps, OneDrive should start syncing your content again.

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

96 Comments
  • One better solution: The Onedrive team(s) to do a proper job coding that stuff because after all this time it's still pathetic.
  • Coding, coding, coding!
  • Works for me though...
  • You'd think a company with a $400b market cap should have developers that have a clue, right??
  • I'd expect the 'Software King of The World' to have a better idea about what it's doing and how to make it work. So far this whole 'One' experience thing has been a total mess and Windows 10 for PC has had LOTS of issues and Windows 10 Mobile is still in 'alpha' stage after half a year since it's initial public/private release. There have been A LOT of poor decisions regarding the current construction of the whole ecosystem. I've been excited about this whole thing, but now I'm just living with it not caring that much. And as a programmer myself I can honestly say that Microsoft's Quality Assurance sucks regarding all this crashy updates and apps. The most annoying example is the Messaging app that crashes when accesed from the quick notification that I've had to live with for the past 3 months. Pathetic!
  • Works for me with success. So, kudos to the OneDrive team.​
  • Yes, until you really have used it, then it starts breaking apart. Those engineers are even too stupid to make logs to see what the **** is happening. (They make logs but they are not decipherable and there is no documentation). MS does such a complicated job when recruiting people but they still fail getting the right engineers. You learn how to do make applications FIXABLE for users in first year of college in Switzerland.
  • I use onedrive everyday as well as our entire company without issues.
  • Works fine for me too. A fine service. I'm grateful
  • Microsofts ongoing beta google search style?
  • The best thing we missed in new OneDrive is pause syncing feature.
  • I miss the option where I could just select which files to keep in offline and online.
  • Yes me too :( it was amazing... Best feature of Win8 Posted via carrier pigeon.
  • The decision to eliminate this functionality is the sole reason OneDrive is no longer the best cloud storage solution. Period!
  • Its really sad that OneDrive became just another cloud-storage in the market, worse is it hasn't achieve to be a household name for cloud storage services. I heard alot of people talking about Dropbox, Google Drive and heck even the iCloud is gaining popularity because of Apple devices. I rarely heard about OneDrive from other people unless they're avid Microsoft products user or somehow use Office 365, not all even use OneDrive, as long as they can use Office.
  • Why is it sad unless you get something out of it?
    My brother use one drive, I set it up for him so he can edit documents on his desktop or laptop. I was going to set up drop box, but since he uses MS office and Windows 10, onedrive is easier for him. But to be honest, I can't think of anyone else who uses onedrive. I don't, but then I do not really use cloud storage.
  • ^This!
  • They are possibly bringing back placeholders. I am guessing this decision has something to do with taking back all that free space.
  • I still don't get it... Why they remove this option??? My tablet have 32GB of eMMC storage, around 20GB free. How the hell can I synchronize the 130GB files of my one drive? I have to use the browser to access them :(
  • Exactly. Without Placeholders, I don't know what the hell to do. I have three mobile devices (Dell Venue Pro, Surface Pro, and HP Envy x2) that all have fairly low storage (smaller than my OneDrive anyway). I've held off on upgrading all of them to Windows 10 until Microsoft makes the roadmap of OneDrive clear. Placeholders are the night and day difference for OneDrive over the competition. If they don't return soon, I may have to look elsewhere.
  • I suggest getting a portable storage for your OneDrive files if you have small local storage. Well, that is if your mobile devices can read external storage.
  • Reasonable solution, but that still an issue for 1TB or anything that have more OneDrive files than the current MicroSD card can handle. Other would be having a flash drive or portable hard-drive would be solution. In that case, what's even the point of simplicity to use OneDrive for to store files. It makes OneDrive more like a dropbox (no pun intended) of files you only want to sync.
  • But wasn't cloud storage suppossed to replace the physical storage. The best thsng is for onedrive to bring back placeholders period...
  • Because a lot of users got angry thinking the placeholders are stored locally while it's not and when they go offline they can't access the files. Usability issue. Will be interesting to see how they plan to solve this.
  • Solve a quick IQ test before a user can unlock this feature? My dad is using OneDrive and he is better off without placeholders, but for me it will work.
  • That doesn't mean Microsoft have to resort for all or nothing approach. They removed it completely instead of actually fixing the usability issue, same approach in many of their ridiculous decisions on other things (not just on OneDrive). The last OneDrive fiasco is about how they address the issue of abused users by not just removing the Unlimited subscription (which is already been a question since its inception about its viability), but removing 2 subscription options (100GB and 200GB) and reducing free 15GB storage that was an advantage among cloud storage services except Google Drive and Mega. They should've at least make the Placeholder optional and make it turn off by default, and at least put an icon overlay to indicate that it is cloud-only files (similar to how they put the Shortcut arrow). There can be tons of possible solutions to address the issue and they can at least make it turn off by default as a quickiest temporary solution.
  • Placeholders with a computer and cloud symbol was so easy to use and understand.
  • That's a first step and its like really, cloud icon is pretty much universal these days indicating a cloud storage or something related, unless its a weather app. I don't know why Microsoft didn't even try it. It even works in Dropbox.
  • Works with Groove - a little symbol to show streaming (online) only and does not disrupt the the artwork or usage.
  • Did I just miss it, or do we still lack support for shared folder sync?
  • On Windows 10, OneDrive is lacking essentially every capability, including simple things like actually syncing files reliably to the cloud.
    It's really too bad because it was actually pretty decent on Windows 8.1.
    I find it rather amusing that Windows 10 is still so badly broken, in so many ways, so long after its release.
  • Yeah, OneDrive from Windows 8.1 was pretty decent, not perfect but at least its got less issues to address. They "nerfed" OneDrive in Windows 10 that is essentially similar to Windows 7 with the same syncing issues that still not fully fixed. Windows 10 in a nutshell is composed of missing features from WIndows 8.X with only few is been reimplemented, new features that are great but many is still half-baked, unpolished + inconsistent overall UI, and bugs + glitches that still lurking around.
     
  • I do have a onedrive shared folder that I sync locally to my laptop. Is that what you are talking about?
  • I guess it's the other way around. You can't sync other peoples folders that v are shared with you.
  • Yeah, this is been long requested feature that still not present on OneDrive/SkyDrive ever. Google Drive as far as I know already do this, so you can sync Shared Folders from other people to your PC. I don't know why this is not a possibility since its since Shared Folder on OneDrive web is been there for a long time.
  • I have access to several co-workers onedrive on my PC and it seems to work okay.
  • I'm just hoping Redstone update will bring placeholders back. No use of this kinda like syncing files.
  • My Onedrive randomly tells me it can't find my files and resets to the setup where I choose the folders I want to sync. The first time this happened I just picked everything again thinking it would see the dupelicate data there and be good to go. Onedrive downloaded a 2nd copy of everything already there. I could browse no problem through all of the data in my Onedrive when the program couldn't see it. I ended up having to delete all of the orignal data. This has happened 3 or 4 times between my Surface Pro and my Surface Book. I also miss that setup auahmed
  • Got burned more than once by having a file I needed. I just started using DropBox which seems a lot more reliable. OneDrive has been around years (remember SkyDrive), and it's still unreliable.
  • Yup. OneDrive just doesn't work reliably on Windows 10. For now, if you depend on syncing data to the cloud, you just have to use a different service.
  • Came here to say: Fix OneDrive = The return of Placeholder files. Not a minute before that will it ever be "Fixed" That is all.
  • Indeed.
  • They already broken the promise of returning Placeholding last year, they really have to make it on Redstone. I don't know if OneDrive team is even trying to be competitive anymore since the lost of Placeholder and the fiasco about reduced storage + Unlimited storage abuse issue.
  • Unfortunate typo under Bonus: How to use Disk Cleanup on Windows 10  "4. Click the Dick Cleanup button."
  • Fixed. Thanks
  • to be honest, its been a long day at work and that total made my day.  
  • There's another typo. In option 9, step 1, the "Power User" menu is accessed via WIN+X not WIN+I. WIN+I opens Settings.
  • I had a problem with this in 8.1. I had disable Windows Search service. Re-enabling it got One Drive synching again.
  • Great guide, not going to mention the unfortunate typo... as it's already been mentioned lol.
  • The solution to everything is for MS to get its head out of its ass and fix it. None of this is hard. Its problems are almost entirely self-imposed and caused by its own incompetence.
  • All of my sync problems were fixed once I turned off auto-sync in Office 365 and just let OneDrive do it on its own.
  • Yep, that Office upload agent is a real pain. I can't believe they effectively have two upload tools running simultaneously. No wonder OneDrive is flakey!
  • Stuff OneDrive. Since I had 10TB and the ripped it from me. My Office 365 ain't being renewed. Back to a pirated copy for me when this expires
  • Not really clear what the next steps are following a /reset. Go to beginning?
  • You need to follow step #4, which is opening the Start menu, do a search for OneDrive and hit Enter to start the sync app again. Thanks, Mauro
  • When I click on the OneDrive app I get this message: Microsoft account requires JavaScript to sign in. This web browser either does not support JavaScript, or scripts are being blocked. I'm using Fire Fox. I give up. I have access to OneDrive on my laptop as long as I'm not trying to get in through the app. I have a resume saved on Word. When I access the resume on my phone via OneDrive why is the resume all crooked and not showing shaded areas on the body of the document like it is on Word when I designed it on my PC? One Note is another app that doesn't sync worth a frick. I have notes on my phone that don't appear on my PC and vice versa. So much for syncing.    
  • Rofl last time I tried to sync my pc OneDrive folder to my online Onedrive because I added a few more documents it replicates the older online version of the folder to my pc instead so I lost all my new files. Well done Microsoft, stay incompetent and you'll be hated just as much as Apple.
  • Apple isn't hated.
  • I've never had any syncing issues with OneDrive but the lack of placeholders honestly makes the whole system useless. I have 1TB of space and a 256GB drive in my Surface Pro 3. It would be nice to be able to store more information on OneDrive without it using up my local storage, I mean that is the point of cloud storage after all, right? It makes me so mad not that OneDrive is taking forever to get placeholders, but that it had them and now they're gone. Don't fix something that isn't only broken, but works perfectly well.
  • Once I had a problem with OneDrive. It didn't opens! I read a lot of sugestions in forums but nothing worked. I needed to format my computer.
  • I have office 2010 suite and OneNote 2013 installed on Windows 10. OneDrive constantly crashes on two files or fights over who is going to sync them with Office upload center from both Office 2010 and 2013. I finally gave up and simply deleted the whole folder from the web browser and then the crashes stopped. It's unacceptable that this is going on after so many years of OneDrive being on the market.
  • The path and file name not exceeding 255 characters is the most ridiculous rule ever. Utterly retarded.
  • Agreed- long name rule sucks!. Not only that, but one long file name causes the whole of the One Drive syncing process to grind to a halt- at least have it ignore that file and continue with the rest in the meantime MS
  • I know this may sound stupid, but it is a valid question.  When checking on OneDrive from the notification area and I right click on the OneDrive icon I see the word "Upgrade" in the OneDrive settings. I've never seen this before.  Has anyone else seen this?  I have always kept my computer up to date with all the latest updates and that is why I find this a little odd.  I am running the latest version of the Windows 10 at Version 1511 OS Build 10586.71  Any suggestions?
  • Hi Folks. I'd like to add what worked flawlessly for me to instantly sync my OneDrive files between my computers and Surface 3. I downloaded the latest OneDrive sync client from onedrive.com and installed it on all my x86 PCs. And just like that, after rebooting all of my PCs, OneDrive sync works every time for me. Without fail for the past 5 months. When I drop a file in a OneDrive folder that's synced between all of my PCs, I see the other PC's update .5 to 1 second later. Hope this helps. Before I downloaded the latest OneDrive desktop app, all of my PC's had different versions of the desktop client installed. Sync between them hardly ever worked until I downloaded the latest one and installed on all PC's. Cheers.  
  • I miss the old SkyDrive architecture.
  • I had my Desktop and Documents folders redirected to OneDrive folders, but everytime I tried saving a file to either location, I got "syncing with server" messages that took forever and would most often fail to save. I then UNCHECKED the box in settings on the OneDrive app that says, "Use Office to work on files with other people at the same time", because I never use this, and now files save instantly to Desktop and Documents, then sync in the background flawlessly.   
  • Whiners read the Verge. Real techs read Mauro
  • Just need to sort the phone sync problems now... Oh and bring back placeholders!!
  • Windows 10here on my Lumia 930 and one drive might as well not exist. Camera roll is set to auto sync to one drive and it does nothing. Even try to force pictures to one drive and nine times out of ten it fails and does nothing. It's really at the point where I think Microsoft is trying to move people away from windows phone. Really sad and more so, frustrating.
  • Mine somehow does sync,eventually.but a lot of errors,8.1 was waaaay more reliable.another service screwed beyond usability :(
  • But still...removing the PAUSE button :D I still find it amazingly amazing :D how many engineers did they employ od this task? :D and yeah, can you fiz the sync speed? Sometimes it takes 5 minutes for the desktop app to download new filea.LAN sync anyone? With crappy DSL even the 30 Gb is a time consuming task.So we are safe to say the screwed up perfectly working service...
  • Great to know
  • Fast ring, slow ring or no ring, didn't help.
    Tell me when I can be a member of " all fixed ring" Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • OneDrive is a load of old broken crock. I got sick of the very poor sync speed and seemly random deletion of files into the recycle bin(s). After endless frustration, I installed Google Drive Sync and moved my files there. Problem totally solved, immediate and consistent sync, reliable. That Microsoft havn't got this sorted after all this time is a scandal. 
  • A simple solutiion that I use and saves all the Syncing & Local Storage issue along with the lack of placeholdes in OneDrive on Windows 10, map your entire OneDrive account as a Network Drive & give it a drive letter and be able to save to it as if it was Local Storgae and don't worry about not being able to select which files & folders you wasnt to sync & the lack of placholders for online files. Theres a post somewhere in the forum that I used to do it, will have to do the same on my HP Stream 7 as well since it's got limited onboard flash storage & a 32GB Micro SD card installed. Roland
  • Moved to Dropbox. Problems solved. Fast sync. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • What is the position about OneDrive for ​Business not working as it should under Windows 10? What is the fix for that? In my case One Drive Personal works fine. It is OD4B that fails to sync properly.​
  • Yeah, same here. I wish I could just turn it off altogether but it's a work computer.
  • Maybe they should change the disclaimer to say "Click here to automatically send all of your files to the government for review and monitoring."
  • What are and what are supposed to do those placeholders? Second, all these complicated menus, options, left and rich clicks simply suck. If I see 9 options how to fix lack of sync I understand it is not solvable by any regular user! That should be two pane solution. One pane for OneDrive in the cloud, the second pane my computer showing where and what files to carry to cloud will be. I select there and here and it is done. Here in grouping in dark clouds!
  • I had nothing but problems with syncing onedrive files online and locally stored.  Here is my correspondance with onedrive support.  Hopefully it will help some of you with the same problem. Okay, well you guys have obviously given up so I will provide you with a solution that I have found on my own.  This is not something that is on any Microsoft thread, but it should be.  I hope you will share this with other people who are having my problem.  Onedrive is obviously not capable of an initial sync of large amounts of information.  In my case, this is approximately 250 gb.  It can upload or download this quite easily but synchronizing between two sources (cloud and local) it cannot do so well.  Since it took you over three weeks to come up with no solution, my local files grew, not syncing with onedrive online.  Then onedrive, trying to sync starts deleting my local files that match the ones stored online but does not replace the files it deleted.  My solution to this problem was to download all 250 gb stored online to an external drive by changing the onedrive location in onedrive settings.  Once downloaded, exit onedrive and copy all files over to the original local onedrive location.  Windows will ask if I want to replace files with the same name, to which I reply NO.  All deleted files will then be replaced in their original location, new files remain untouched, copy time is minimalized.  Once this was done and I am satisfied that all files are present and accounted for, I go to onedrive online via web browser on pc and delete everything.  Empty recycle bin then restart onedrive desktop application.  I did unlink then link account again (setting onedrive location to original local destination) and slowly but surely, the files on my desktop began to show back up to my onedrive online account.  To check I would take a picture on my phone and it would show up on my pc in my designated camera roll folder inside onedrive. Delete all files on external drive.   There is your solution for this problem.  I appreciate your trying to help me in the beginning but your giving up and refusing to communicate in the end is what is disappointing.  At this point, I believe that my apple friends are correct when they say that Apple apps and support is better than Microsoft.
  • Once again OneDrive just gets stuck syncing a tiny little 85kb jpeg which isn't in use by any program. As usual. The CMD reset method does not help. It really is laughable how bad OneDrive still is. I've been using it for unimportant stuff since the early SkyDrive days and would never in my life think of using OneDrive as a cloud service for anything important. I actually used windows live sync back in the day before they shut down the relay server and it was awesome. Nowadays I only trust BTSync and Dropbox for important stuff.
  • I use the OneDrive for storing word documents. When I go to another one of my laptops I get the message that someone has updated one of my files. Of course. That someone happens to be me. I also get continuous messages that files are not synching. And when I use Word to write my documents, the spellchecker often seems to only have a limited grip on the English language. So, now we have nine tips where we need to do the fixing on behalf of Microsoft. I don't recollect getting paid for this, I'm an end user. I use Word and the OneDrive to expedite work. But with the continuous error messages about my files; the fact that there are no errors, that these are really flaws in the programming; that all shows to me that Microsoft does not learn from errors. To make things worse, windows 10 for me offers nothing of value. The desktop is idiotic, none of the software packages enhance my experience as an end user, the whole setup is there for the benefit of Microsoft. So, please take your nine tips and go do something productive, like making your software work correctly
  • I have only 173 MB files on OneDrive but shows 7.09 GB and notification says excess storage.   what is it storing??? my temporary files???   
  • This article bears a startling resemblance to a Microsoft support article named "Fix OneDrive sync problems" on support.office.com. But there is no mention of this as the source.  Would put a link to it but I am being blocked from doing so.
  • Thank you so much! This really helped me! :D
  • I have made several attempts to get OneDrive to sync with my PC, without success. The instructions posted by M'soft state that certain arrows can be clicked on to make something happen, but on my PC, bought new with Win 10 installed, these arrows are not visible. I can sync if I log in to OneDrive through my browser and then drag and drop the items I want to back up, a long and time consuming work-around to achieve what OneDrive ought to do automatically. In short, OneDrive is useless and I suggest that others do as I am now doing, looking elsewhere to cloud-store my files. Microsoft ought to be ashamed of the rubbish they now issue, in particular, forcing users to "upgrade" which really means paying for something you don't want or need. It appears that the real brains behind M'soft have retired, moved on to other fields or made so much money that they no longer need to work, leaving inexperienced third-rate people in charge. Whatever the reason, M'soft is producing rubbish with iterations of its systems bringing scant or no improvements and intended only to create profits for themselves.
  • Articles like this are very helpful. However, OneDrive doesn't seem to work right for a lot of people. For me, it never seems to work as it's supposed to and on the whole makes for a time-wasting, very disappointing experience. I'm sure MS is tired of hearing that their DropBox comptetitor is commonly thought of as a complete dog.
  • If only there was now a fix for OneDrive deleting close to 400 of my pictures.
  • if you have any sense you would also back those pictures up on a external drive.
  • I've had problems with 1 file not syncing to my OneDrive, for MONTHS. Thank you for writing this article, as it helps me to narrow down where the problem is. In your 12 steps, at step #5 I think I have a selective sync problem. There's a folder on my machine, within my Documents folder, which doesn't even appear in my OneDrive online. Why is that and how do I resolve it?
  • while i don't really use cloudy stuff, i do have a dropbox account and the dropbox software on my machine, I only have a couple of documents that I store on there, but as of yet I have never had a problem with sync, on either this machine or my linux based laptop. so why on earth should one drive have a problem, is it that useless? The thing is integrated into the Os for goodness sake.
    just more of MS useless extras.
  • This must be an old article as comments here are 3 years old!
    For me, built-in Onedrive on Windows 10 has, for the most part, been excellent on my SP5 and desktop computer. I don't think I've had any syncing issues ever, other than when my internet connection plays up.
  • Worms fine for me without any issue.
  • If all fails there's another tip: Provide extensive feedback to Microsoft via the feedback app. The fact there are so many together solutions, even going as fast as disabling certain security settings, I think it's telling how vulnerable the OneDrive software and service is.