Synchronizing OneDrive for Business on a laptop or desktop hard drive

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WSU & Office 365
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Office 365 Guide

Fig 1. Local copy of OneDrive for Business
Fig 2. Select a pattern for your Office ribbon background

About this article

This article includes instructions for synchronizing all of the folders and files on your cloud-based OneDrive with a copy on your Windows laptop or desktop hard drive using the OneDrive for Business Synch for Windows client. It is intended for students and employees using laptops or desktops running Windows 7 or 8. This includes WSU desktops and personally owned machines. Note: Mac computers cannot synchronize with OneDrive.

What does it mean to synchronize?

Your OneDrive exists in the cloud and you need an Internet connection to access the folders and files it contains. It's often handy to have a copy of those folders and files saved locally on your laptop's hard drive, so you can access them even when offline. However, it can be a file management nightmare if those two copies are not synchronized automatically. If you make changes to the local copy of a document, that document should also be updated in your OneDrive for Business. If you add a document to a local folder, a copy of it should also be placed in your OneDrive for Business. Conversely, if you make changes to your OneDrive for Business, those changes should also be made to your local copy of those folders and files. The two copies should always be the same. That's synchronization.

Do you have to synchronize?

No. You can use OneDrive on your laptop or desktop through your web browser. If you have an iPad or iPhone, you can also use the OneDrive for Business app and the Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps, which are all integrated with your OneDrive for Business. There are three major reasons to synchronize:

  • You know that you will be working without an Internet connection and will need access to your files
  • You don't trust Microsoft's cloud servers and want the local copies as a backup
  • You prefer working on your files locally and want the OneDrive for Business copies as a backup
  • See the WARNING section below.

How does OneDrive synchronization work?

OneDrive synchronization works on both Windows and Mac OS X operating systems. To set up synchronization, you have to download and install the OneDrive for Business Synch for Windows software (unless you have a new HP EliteBook 840 on which it's already installed). This creates a copy of your entire OneDrive for Business in a folder in your home directory on your computer's hard drive called OneDrive @ Winona State University. Every folder and file from your OneDrive for Business will be duplicated in your OneDrive @ Winona State University folder. From that point on, any change you make to the files and folders in this local folder will be copied to your OneDrive for Business automatically. Conversely, any change you make to the folders and files in your OneDrive for Business will be copied to your local OneDrive @ Winona State University directory automatically.


At 1TB, the size of your OneDrive exceeds the size of your laptop's hard drive. Currently, Microsoft does not offer selective folder and file synchronization with its OneDrive for Business service. If the files stored in your OneDrive for Business occupy more space than is available on your laptop's hard drive, the synchronization process will fill it up and then fail.

How to synchronize OneDrive

Windows 10

Step 1. Install the OneDrive for Business Synch for Windows client

Note. If you have a HP EliteBook 840, you can skip to Step 2. The software s already installed on your laptop.

  1. Open your favorite web browser and navigate to the OneDrive for Business Synch for Windows client installer page
  2. Scroll down the page to find your desired language heading (e.g., English)
  3. Select the x86 version of the installer program. The program will begin to download to your laptop. What you see varies by browser.
  4. Once the program is downloaded, run it to begin the installation
  5. If you are asked whether the program can make changes to your computer, select Yes.
  6. A popup window will indicate that Microsoft is shutting down programs.
  7. A popup window will indicate that your computer is getting ready.
  8. A Welcome window will appear. You may also see a second window in the lower right indicating that Office is installing in the background. Wait for that window to disappear and select Next.
  9. You will have the option of watching a movie. Select Next.
  10. A Meet OneDrive window will appear with an option to watch another movie. Select Next.
  11. You will see a Hello window. Select the pattern you would like to appear in the ribbon at the top of office apps (Figure 2). Select Next.
  12. A Take a look window will appear. Select the No thanks link.
  13. There may be a brief wait and then you will see a Good to go window. Select All done.

Step 2. Set up first-time synchronization

Fig 3. Student Sync
Fig 4. Employee Sync
Fig 5. Select blue cloud icon
Fig 6. Synchronization in progress
  1. Use your favorite web browser to open up your OneDrive for Business
  2. Select the Sync button. It will be in a different position of the screen for students (Figure 3) versus employees (Figure 4).
  3. Select Sync now
  4. If you are using Chrome, select Launch application
  5. You will get a brief message indicating that you are connecting to a server
  6. A blue cloud icon will begin flashing on your task bar at the bottom of your screen. Select it (Figure 5).
  7. A window will open indicating that the synchronization process is in progress. Select the Show my files button to see your local OneDrive @ Winona State University folder (Figure 6). It should contain duplicates of all the folders and files in your OneDrive for Business. Successful synchronization will be indicated by a green check mark.
  8. From this point on, synchronization between your OneDrive for Business and your local OneDrive @ Winona State University folder will happen automatically.

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