Currently there is the classic synchronization at SharePoint Online document libraries and the new possibility called "Add shortcut to my files". There are advantages and disadvantages for both methods and significant differences. In this article everything refers to OneDrive for Business and not to OneDrive Personal.
Synchronizing SharePoint libraries
- Manual triggering of synchronization by clicking on the Sync button +
- Automatic triggering via group policy +
- The group policy always affects the root directory, so it’s all or nothing –
- Restriction by filter only conditionally possible, because faulty–
- If synchronization is cancelled, data remains on device –
- Synchronization must be executed on every device –
- Unsynchronization must be executed on every device –
- Renaming of root order not possible –
- Fragmentation of the structure –
Add shortcut to my files
- Only manual triggering of synchronization
- No Group Policy
- Synchronization in OneDrive +
- Synchronization in all devices including mobile devices +
- Shortcut can be renamed +
- When the shortcut is dissolved, the data is deleted on all devices ++
- Quickly created, only designated folder, then again resolution +
- Only applicable within an organization –
Details about synchronizing SharePoint libraries
You log in to Office 365 with a browser. You change to a SharePoint library, where you of course also have access. In the browser you will see the link "Documents" on the left and after the click the Sync button appears in the upper menu. This button only appears if you are in the root directory and no folder or file has been selected. With the click the synchronization is started. In organizations usually several SharePoint libraries are implemented. Because "marketing" data usually has nothing to do in the "finance" library. This is a common mistake when network drives are migrated to SharePoint Online. Of course, a SharePoint Online library can fit 30 million documents, but the OneDrive Sync Client (OneDrive.exe) on Windows has a maximum limit of files (300000) that the Sync Client is able to synchronize. For me, the question is always whether we always need all of these files on the client, but more on that later.
What can always be done manually, can also be automated. By means of group policy. But the restrictions of the sync engine remain. The group policy can also not implement a filter, so all or nothing. A filter can then be created manually by the user to hide folders. Unfortunately, there is still a bug in the filter for quite some time, which makes the filter thus unusable. If the user has multiple devices, he must perform the manual synchronization multiple times if the administration does not provide a group policy. Even if the synchronization is cancelled, it must be done on each device individually and the files are not deleted after the cancellation on the device.
Exception: files on demand, where only the file name is displayed, and which are only in the cloud, are removed immediately when the synchronization is cancelled.
Another disadvantage is that renaming the root folder is not possible. If there are many SharePoint libraries in the synchronization, the file explorer looks very fragmented for some users.
Add shortcut to my files
So, looking at the drawbacks of classic synchronization, don’t be surprised to see Microsoft initiate the next generation with "Add to OneDrive". First, the synchronization is initiated as above. But then a folder must be selected, and then the menu item "Add shortcut to my files" must be clicked in the top menu.
Then several things happen: In OneDrive for Business, a folder is displayed with the Shotcut icon. The same thing happens on every device of the user, even on the smartphones, both Android and iPhone. But there is no group policy, so the ShortCut must always be triggered by the user. This is a good thing, because it is up to each employee to select exactly the right folder to work with the subfolders and files it contains.
If you have ever worked with Windows Shortcuts, you know that a ShortCut can be renamed there. This is also true here. The origin is not changed. This way I can also cleverly sort the files in OneDrive for Business. If the files are no longer needed, they can be removed from any device. So in the browser within OneDrive, in Windows Explorer or in the smartphone. The files are then deleted on all devices, but not in the origin. This is fast and the synchronization process is much faster because fewer files have to be synchronized.
However, it is necessary to consider how the document libraries on SharePoint Online must or should be structured in the future in order to ensure optimal work by different employees. Here, even in the case of a possible migration, it must be considered beforehand how and where the documents are to be migrated.
And last but not least a few hints:
It is not possible to synchronize twice. So, if you already use the classic synchronization, you can’t use the same library and the "Add link to my files" function right away. First of all, you need to stop sync on each device, don’t forget to delete the files as well. As said on each Windows device of a user. Only after that, the "Shortcut to my files" method can be used.
And then it works only internally, that is, on SharePoint libraries and OneDrive for Business folders of one’s own organization.
Currently, Microsoft has also prevented the synchronization of folders from external OneDrive for Business, which are shared with a user, and can then be synchronized. However, these are to be resisted shortly.
References and links