Learn How OneDrive Sync Works With Office 2016


For years, you have been able to sync your OneDrive (and SharePoint) documents to your PC, which lets you work on the go while still being able to collaborate with others in Office. This integration was powered by the previous generation OneDrive for Business sync client (groove.exe), and we've been working hard to fix issues and improve reliability so the experience is as smooth as possible. With the release of the latest OneDrive sync client (which we refer to as the Next Gen Sync Client or NGSC, we saw an opportunity make the Office sync experience better than ever.

We've now delivered a new integration which combines the rock-solid performance and reliability of OneDrive with the advanced collaboration features of Office 2016. Here's a summary of how the latest OneDrive sync works differently from both competitors and from our previous sync client (groove.exe):


Office files always open from the locally synced file first

If a document is synced to your machine, Office will never wait to open the server copy. Office opens the locally synced file immediately, and if there are any changes on the server, Office will download those asynchronously. This allows you to open under any network conditions without waiting and is a big advantage over other sync and share services. Due to the partnership between OneDrive and Office, it doesn't matter if the file was opened from Recent Files, File Explorer, clicking a URL, etc. If the file is synced to the device, the synced file opens first.


Office files always save to the locally synced file first

Similar to how Office opens files, saves start with the locally synced file. After the file saves, Office will upload changes directly to the server. If Office can't upload because the device is offline, you can keep working offline or close the file. Office will continue to save to the locally synced file, and OneDrive will handle the upload once the device gets back online. In this integration, Office works directly with the files that are currently open, enabling co-authoring in Office apps like Word on the desktop, which no competitor offers. For files that are not open in Office, OneDrive handles all syncing. This is the key difference between the old sync client integration and the NGSC, and this lets us achieve co-authoring along with the best  performance and sync reliability.


Office uploads are efficient

Since the release of Office 2010, files are uploaded to  OneDrive via the MS-FSSHTTP protocol. This lets Office avoid uploading the entire file on every save if only a small part has changed. For example, if a PowerPoint presentation has a large video in it, that video won’t be re-uploaded on each save. It is much more efficient than a full file upload, and it again speaks to the tight interoperability between Office and OneDrive.  


Conflict Resolution

Some conflicts are unavoidable, and OneDrive gives you control over how these conflicts get resolved. If Office 2016 is not installed, OneDrive will create a second file with the user’s conflicting copy after detecting a conflict. If Office 2016 is installed, users have the option to “Open in Office” to resolve the conflict. This will either automatically merge the conflicting copies or show a merge experience that lets users pick the right version of each conflicting change. Users can choose to duplicate the file instead, or they can disable the “Open in Office” option entirely in the OneDrive settings.



Office 2016 and OneDrive work seamlessly together to keep your files in sync while letting you easily collaborate on your documents and share them with others. This integration provides dramatically improved performance and reliability without sacrificing advanced collaboration features like real-time co-authoring. Now you have a single tool to sync all your OneDrive and SharePoint Online content with the best integration with Office, great performance, and rock-solid sync.



Office integration with the OneDrive Next Generation Sync Client is available now for all Windows releases of Office 2016, and it works for all modern Office document formats (docx, xlsx, pptx, etc) synced by the Next Gen Sync Client. We’re also working to bring this experience to Office 2016 for Mac, though we don’t have a release date to share at this time.

Office integration with NGSC Teamsite sync requires click-to-run build 16.0.7167.2001+ or MSI build 16.0.4432.1000+

Eric O'Brien- Program Manager- OneDrive

36 Replies
Wow, this is awesome!!!

Great Info thanks!

Nice, I installed the client. Seems to work great. Different syncs (SharePoint, OneDrive, Group and schred folder) are running now. I hope it proves it's stability in the upcoming days.

Unfortunately, this isn't working for me. The OneDrive client warns me it couldn't merge the changes in two files, and gives me the option to open them in Office so I can review and merge the changes. When I click to resolve the issue, the files open in their respective application (Word or Powerpoint), but there aren't any pending changes to be merged.

And it is still running fine.
Really good to see this, thanks!

This is a great summary!  I am in an organization with two domains under seperate O365 subscriptions (x.com and y.com).  I have shared document libraries from SharePoint from x.com with y.com members.  y.com members can see all libraries in a browser.  However, the system will not allow y.com members to sync these libraries.  There are no domain resrtictions in the Admin console.  Should this be possible?

Was there a recent change? I was using the new protocal a few weeks ago to sync a SharePoint Online document library. Now when I synch a different library, it uses the groove protocal and opens OneDrive for Business instead of the new OneDrive client.

No changes from our end. Let me forward this to engineering.


Thanks for the heads up


There are two issues with this.  One is that the groove client might not have been disabled when the new client was installed.  You can run "%localappdata%\Microsoft\OneDrive\OneDrive.exe /takeover​" from the command line to ensure the new OneDrive for Business sync client is running.


The second issue is that the SharePoint Admin needs to select which sync client will be 'called' by SharePoint when users hit the sync button.  This is in the SharePoint Admin tool under settings:



One work around for issue two is to add the library from OneDrive in the taskbar by using the URL.

Hi Ward - Could you clarify the work around for issue 2? Are you adding the URL to the SharePoint Library to OneDrive??
In the Groove sync client, you can add a SharePoint folder to sync by pasting the URL into the pop-up that displays after selecting "Sync a new library" from the right-click dialog of the task bar icon. With the new sync client, you have to add folders by navigating to the SharePoint or OneDrive site and click Sync. The SharePoint or OneDrive admins have to change the SharePoint and OneDrive settings to open the new sync client to add the folder. The default setting is to open the groove sync client.

Hi @Stephen Rose - we've just finished doing some network traces on the sync client because of some performance issues.  What we are seeing doesn't quite line up with the description you posted here - so am interested in your thoughts.

Specifically, when the option "Use Office 2016 to sync Office files that I open" is selected, we see that when opening an Office document that it will always try to download the server version - even if there is a local copy available.  When the PC is offline, opening an Office document will wait and time-out before opening the local copy.

When we unselect the "Use Office 2016 to sync Office files that I open" option, it does indeed open the files from the local drive as expected.


So my questions are:

(1) - Is this by design?

(2) - What are the downsides of removing this default option to use Office 2016 to sync files?


P.S. I'm happy to share our network traces if that'll be helpful in explaining the behavior we are seeing.

@Eric O'Brien

I have an issue with the new generation syncing with shrepoint sites. It seems that if the user is using bluebeam instead of Adobe the files keep duplicating over and over until the user stops sync. The duplicate files have no data in them and can not be opened. I have contacted blue beam but have not been contacted back. I am desparate for a fix. 



I'm not familiar with Bluebeam; is that some kind of productivity software in the same vein as Adobe and Autodesk design/content creation tools? Can you also click on the OneDrive Sync Client icon in your toolbar and open the activity center. That should show you what the sync client is doing which might give us some insight into why the files are duplicating. Thanks!


Stephen Rice

OneDrive Program Manager II

Yes BlueBeam is a PDF tool that allows take-offs and markups. It is heavily used in the construction/engineering industry. When the duplicate files occur the system is detecting conflicts and appending the computer name to the files over and over again until either the user pauses sync or the file path gets too long and it gives up. I also have this issue with users who have Office 2013 installed. Excel files duplicate over and over. @Stephen Rice



Very odd. Let me forward this to one of our sync experts and see if we can figure out what's going on. Thanks!


Stephen Rice

OneDrive Program Manager II

Thanks Stephen.


Laura, sounds like the sync client is forking on the file and making a duplicate copy in order to prevent data-loss. You are saying that this is occuring when syncing an SPO teamsite. Is this always occuring? How many users have the same file open at once? Are individual files being appended with multiple different machine names? How many copies are being created per file/instance?