Is OneDrive Sync Hogging Your WiFi Connection?

OneDrive Sync

Is Your OneDrive Sync Choking Your WiFi Connection?

OneDrive Sync Problem – Ridiculously Long Sync Times

Note: this post assumes that there is nothing actually wrong with your OneDrive Sync (that’s a topic of another one of our posts, see OneDrive Not Syncing On Surface), instead it talks about the actual behavior of OneDrive and its effect on your network.

I recently discovered an interesting problem with Surfaces: if you reload your Surface and you have a sizable amount of files on your OneDrive, the OneDrive sync will take hours – even days – to sync up your data between the cloud and your device.

Consider this scenario:

You’re traveling and your Surface is having a problem. Of course, this would be the most inopportune time to have a problem because you depend on your Surface for everything: navigation, work, entertainment. So, what do you do?

Well, if you have done all the troubleshooting and you’re still having problems, you’ll probably consider refreshing or maybe even resetting your Surface.

Which is exactly what I did (yes, that was the scenario I found myself in a couple of weeks ago), I spent time one afternoon in a hotel room refreshing my Surface 2 4G. Everything seemed to go fine but I noticed that my OneDrive files were taking a long time to sync. I mean ridiculously long – we’re talking hours. So, I left it alone to sync in peace over the hotels already slow WiFi.
[That was a big mistake for other reasons but more on that later; see warning below.]

The above is probably an extreme example but, seriously, at one point or another most of you will find yourself having to reload your Surface or copy large amounts of files to your OneDrive. I mean, let’s face it, with Microsoft offering unlimited free file storage with the purchase of Office365 to everyone, many of you may be considering moving all your data to OneDrive.

And why not?

I’m all for simplifying life and having everything in one place, certainly makes sense to me. And thus far, I have been quite happy with OneDrive.

But what then can you do about the OneDrive sync hogging up your network connection?

The answer is: Not Much…put don’t lose hope yet.

And I hate to say it but Google Drive has the same problem – ugh.

The problem with OneDrive sync is two-fold: (1) your network upload speed and (2) OneDrive throttling. So, when you’re trying to sync up a large amount of files to the cloud, it is likely going to slllloooowwwwwww your WiFi connection to a crawl; in fact, it may render your wireless network completely unusable. Obviously, this is not optimal.

WARNING: Watch out for metered connections! This is what got me with my Surface 2 4G. After the refresh, I didn’t realize that the Cellular connection was turned on. After some time, the hotel WiFi timed out and my Surface auto-switched to 4G and proceeded to sync overnight using my data plan. Needless to say, I got a nasty surprise in the morning – I totally went over my data allocation for the month and had to pay extra – GRRRRRR….

With all that said, there are a few things you can try to mitigate this problem:

1. Schedule your work, so that your syncs\uploads happen overnight. This may give it enough uninterrupted bandwidth to be ready in the morning – depending on how much data you have.

2. Use a LAN connection – if at all possible, do the sync via LAN instead of WiFi – I mean, this isn’t much of a fix because your LAN Adapter for your Surface, give that a shot.

3. Throttle OneDrive by using Local Group Policy or a 3rd party bandwidth shaping tool such as NetBalancer. You can find more information about this option in our article titled Throttle OneDrive on Surface.

4. If you are Still using Windows 8.1, you can temporarily “pause” the OneDrive Service on your Surface, until you are ready for it to sync – this will pause the sync until you tell it to sync again. A restart of the device, does not restart the sync, so make sure you remember to go back in and tell it to sync again. Here is how to do it:

  • Open File Explorer in Desktop Mode
  • Find and right-click (or hold and tap) on OneDrive icon
  • From the menu, select Pause Syncing
    Pause OneDrive Sync
  • To restart the sync you will have to do the same and select Sync (right above the pause)

While pausing works in Windows 8.1 and Windows RT, it does not work in Windows 10.

That’s it. Those are basically the things you can try to mitigate network problems caused by OneDrive Sync. Oh and please, before you go on a rant about how much Microsoft sucks and how they should have thought of this, remember Google has the same issue and I have personally seen it  – just sayin’…


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