OneDrive Sync, syncs more than OneDrive

From experience, the OneDrive Sync Client is one of the greatest aids to adoption that I've seen within Office 365. Traditionally users are comfortable with using files and folders within a file system to manage and structure their documents. This is the way that they have been working for the last XX years and so it's an adoption nightmare to ask them to change to use a browser based cloud storage solution. So when Microsoft released the sync client, where users could sync their OneDrive for Business to their desktop and interact with it using File Explorer, I suddenly had a number of happy customers!
With this functionality available to users, it's important that they understand why this is a good thing and what the benefits are for using this technology.

What issues did the Sync Client resolve?

When users began using the Sync Client, all of a sudden they were starting to use the full functionality of OneDrive for Business whether they wanted to or not. Therefore the key features which customers always get excited about, were then available:
  • Version Control
  • Controlled sharing of files
  • Recycle bin
  • Co-authoring
  • Data is protected by the O365 Security & Compliance policies
With the addition of Files on Demand, it also meant that we only needed to pull down the documents which we really needed, rather than having to download everything to our local machine. This really did a good job of filling the "offline working" capability as I could use the synced copy of the document and just let the sync process push it back into cloud storage once I was back online.

But due to the nature of the product naming i.e. OneDrive Sync Client, there is a key piece of functionality which many customers tend to miss, and therefore do not take advantage of.

OneDrive Sync Client with SharePoint

Using the sync client with OneDrive allows us to manage our personal files locally and immediately sync them back to the cloud. What many people don't seem to be fully aware of, is that this great functionality also applies to the content which we store within SharePoint.

In the SharePoint modern experience for Document Libraries, there is a button on the ribbon which is called Sync. Now admittedly the question I sometimes get asked is "Sync with what?". The answer to this, is Sync to your desktop using the OneDrive Sync Client. 

This will allow your documents within SharePoint, to be accessed and interacted with, from Windows Explorer. This behaves in exactly the same way as your documents within OneDrive, and comes with all of the same benefits that you would get from accessing the files directly within SharePoint through the browser.

Just remember that you can only sync on a per library basis, so if you have multiple document libraries within your SharePoint site then you will need to navigate to, and sync each library.

Finally...

From speaking to customers, I've found that the OneDrive Sync Client isn't always used to its full extent. Due to the naming, it's quite obvious that the sync client will allow the interaction with OneDrive from Windows Explorer, but it's not so clear that the same can also be done for SharePoint.

When viewing a modern document library in SharePoint, I can select the Sync button which will then replicate the contents of my document library to my desktop. This allows me to bridge the adoption gap for those people who wish to use files and folders, by allowing them to do that, but still giving the assurance and functionality that comes with using cloud storage.

I highly recommend everyone doing this for their files as well, as it allows you to work offline in a seamless way, whereby my changes will sync back to SharePoint once I go back online.

Remember, just because it's OneDrive Sync Client, doesn't mean that it's only for OneDrive!

I hope you enjoyed this blog, and as always would love to hear your feedback.

Comments

  1. Great article - when preparing for offline use users need to check that the library contents are "Available on this Device" before disconnecting from the internet otherwise the "Files on Demand" will not be able to access the files stored in the cloud - No Internet Connection = No Sync functionality.

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