OneDrive for Groups – How to enable/disable synchronization for a document library


Microsoft offers a synchronization client called Microsoft OneDrive.  The client allows you to synchronize files between Office365 and your computer.  It is STRONGLY recommended that you do NOT use this feature unless you have a strong business reason for doing so.  Here are a few good reasons:

  • The current version of the application works better than previous versions BUT most users run into issues where the synchronization stops working. Generally the user is unaware that synchronization has failed and their file systems get into an inconsistent state leading to lots of confusion.
  • Sensitive Data is allowed to be stored in Office365. If you synchronize sensitive data to your computer, special requirements must be met. Please see the UNC Chapel Hill Information Security Controls Standard to review these requirements.
  • There are concerns that users may try to synchronize a group, file or folder not realizing that it contains sensitive data.
  • The storage allocations in Office 365 can be large.  If you choose to synchronize large amounts of data, you can fill up your local hard drive.  If you do synch, select just the files and folders you wish to synch – not all files and folders.
  • If you enable local synch and then delete the local files, they will be deleted in Office 365.  BE CAREFUL.

Based on these concerns, the University implementation of Office365 DISABLES synchronization of OneDrive for Groups document libraries.  Group owners have the ability to re-enable this feature if needed.

OneDrive for Groups has an option to enable/disable file and folder synchronization at the document library level.  There is a default “Documents” library that is automatically created when new Office 365 Groups are created.  In our campus implementation, file and folder synchronization for document libraries is DISABLED by default.

How do I determine if synchronization is enabled?

Open the OneDrive files view for the Office 365 Group you wish to modify.  See the OneDrive Getting Started help document if you need instructions.
If synchronization is ENABLED, you should see the Sync link on the menu bar (circled below).


How do I enable/disable synchronization for document libraries?

Note: You must be a Group “owner” to make this change.

Open the OneDrive files view for the Office 365 Group you wish to modify.  See the OneDrive Getting Started help document if you need instructions.
Near the top of the window, click the square box next to the name of your Group (circled in the screenshot below).  This will open the home page for your Group.


Click the “Gear” icon near the top right and then select Site settings (both circled below).


Click the “Search and offline availability” link (circled below).


Under the Offline Client Availability section (circled below), select “Yes” to enable the sync feature, “No” to turn off the feature.  Note our default is “No”.
The click OK to save your change.


Links to training and help documents:

If you need assistance with these instructions, contact us via one of the Other ITS Help Options.

Microsoft Documentation
Check out Microsoft’s Support Site for Office 365 ( Microsoft also has some great training videos you can watch to become familiar with using Office 365 applications. Please visit the Office Training Center.