Caching OneDrive for Business content when Files On-Demand is enabled

Not surprisingly, given who I work for, I’m a heavy user of Microsoft technologies. I have a Microsoft Surface Pro, running the latest versions of Windows 10 of Office 365 ProPlus, joined to Azure Active Directory and managed with Intune. I use all of the Office 365 Productivity apps. I AM A MICROSOFT POWER USER!

Enough of the drama! Let’s bring this down a level…

…I’m just a guy, using a laptop, trying to get a job done. It’s a tool.

OneDrive icon

Most of my files are stored in OneDrive for Business. There’s lots more space there than the typical SSD has available and so Microsoft introduced a feature called Files On-Demand, whereby you see the whole list of files but it’s only actually downloaded when you try to access it.

That sounds great, unless you travel a lot and work on trains and other places where network connectivity is less than ideal.

In my case, I have around 50GB of data in OneDrive and 90GB of free space on my Surface’s SSD so I have the potential to cache it all locally. I used to do this by turning off Files On-Demand but the latest build I’m running has disabled that capability for me.

It’s not feasible to touch every file and force it to be cached and I thought about asking my admins to reverse the setting to force the use of Files On-Demand but then I found another way around it…

If I right-click on a OneDrive file or folder in Windows Explorer there’s the option to “Always keep on this device”. [Update: Peter Bryant (@PJBryant) has flagged a method using the command line too – it seems there are new attributes P and U for Files On-Demand]

By applying this to one of the top-level folders in my OneDrive, I was able to force the files to be cached – regardless of whether Files On-Demand is enabled or not. Now, I can access all of the files in that folder (and any subfolders), even when I’m not connected to the Internet.

The impact of Microsoft’s changes to OneDrive storage quotas on Office 365 plans


Earlier this week, Microsoft announced some changes to its consumer cloud storage product, OneDrive (with more details in this FAQ).

Whilst the changes to OneDrive storage quotas are disappointing for some users, that’s life – you don’t get much that’s genuinely free and Microsoft clearly wasn’t making money on OneDrive.

What I find more disappointing is that Microsoft has created a real mess, after so much positive publicity in the new cloud-first, mobile-first Microsoft that Satya Nadella is leading. And it’s not about the products – the marketing guys are to blame here. First of all, there was nothing on the Office blogs about this – the announcement is on a separate OneDrive blog. Then that announcement refers to “Office 365 consumer subscribers”. So, as one person commented on the Office 365 Yammer network:

“Oh Microsoft what were you thinking with your poorly articulated and conceived change to OneDrive? https://blog.onedrive.com/onedrive_change . What a mess! Now people are emailing me and asking when they will lose space on their OneDrive and I have to explain ‘not that OneDrive this OneDrive’ and ‘not that Office 365 this Office 365′”

As well as two OneDrive products (OneDrive and OneDrive for Business, although sometimes with a unified client) and two Skype products (Skype and Skype for Business, again becoming more integrated but not quite there) we now seem to have the marketing teams talking about two sets of Office 365 subscription plans (Office 365 consumer and Office 365 business).

Anyway… setting aside some dubious product naming decisions, a retrenchment from “unlimited” storage (we all know what unlimited means to marketing departments… and surely it can be managed with an acceptable use policy if it’s being used to extremes) and some mightily annoyed end users who are about to see a drop in their OneDrive storage, what does this actually mean for Office 365 customers? I heard one MVP announce that Microsoft was reducing the amount of storage in Office 365 – and, unless we’re talking about an Office 365 Home, Personal, or University subscriber, that’s simply not the case.

Well, if you have an Office 365 consumer subscription, you still get 1TB of storage (per user – so with my family of 4 users on Office 365 Home, that’s potentially 4TB of storage) and, if you have an Office 365 business subscription, then the unlimited storage was never rolled out (at least not on any tenant I’ve seen) – although at the time of writing it is still on the Office 365 Roadmap as “in development” (I do expect that to change, although I haven’t seen any announcements from Microsoft).

In essence, it seems “unlimited” is a terabyte. Which may not be what the Oxford English Dictionary defines as the meaning of unlimited but is still a huge uplift on any file shares I’ve ever seen provisioned to end users!

The OneDrive that’s really two drives…


Jamie Thomson and I have long since lamented the challenges of Microsoft’s two directories for cloud services and it doesn’t stop there. Take a look at cloud storage:

  • OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud-based storage offering, accessed with a Microsoft Account (formerly a Windows Live ID, or a Passport if you go back far enough…)
  • OneDrive for Business is Microsoft’s cloud-based storage offering, accessed with an Organizational Account (which lives in Microsoft Azure AD)

Similar names, similar purpose, totally different implementation – as the OneDrive for Business product is still Groove (which later became SharePoint Workspace) under the covers (have a look at the filename when you download the client).

And look what happens when you have both products with the same email address used to access them:

Still, at least the site detects that this has happened and gives you the choice. And there is some hope for future convergence as Jamie highlights in this blog post from earlier in the year.

Earlier this week, I was helping a customer to get ready for an Office 365 pilot and they were having challenges with the OneDrive client. The version available for download from the Office 365 portal is a click-to-run installation and it didn’t want to play nicely with their .MSI-based Office 2013 installation (which should already include the client anyway). Actually, that didn’t really matter because the OneDrive client is also included in Windows 8.1, which was the operating system being used.

The confusion came with setting up the connected services inside Office:

  • To set up a OneDrive account, click on OneDrive – but that will only accept Microsoft Account credentials and, after configuration it will show as something like “OneDrive – Personal”.
  • To set up OneDrive for Business, don’t click OneDrive but select SharePoint instead. After logging on with your Organizational Account credentials, that will be displayed as “OneDrive – organisation name” (with SharePoint sites appearing as “Sites – organisation name”).

Some illustration might help so, below is a shot of my connected services. Because I’m connected to multiple Office 365 tenants, you can see that I have multiple OneDrive [for Business] and Sites entries:

If you’re trying to get hold of the OneDrive for Business sync client for SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint Online, Microsoft knowledge base article 2903984 has the links for the click-to-run install.  If you want an MSI version, then you’re out of luck – but you can create a customised Office 2013 installation instead as OneDrive for Business (formerly SkyDrive Pro) was originally released as part of several Office 2013 suites (as described in Microsoft knowledge base article 2904296.

Finally, if you’re trying to work out how to get a OneDrive for Business app on Windows Phone, the OneDrive app can connect to both OneDrive and OneDrive for Business.

Confused?