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With my e-mail, contacts and calendar fully operational in Office 365, the next step was to move my files over to OneDrive for Business.  Although this shares a name with the OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) consumer product, it is a completely separate technical implementation (based on SharePoint) with different login, limits, tools and user interface.

OneDrive

The approach I took to setting up OneDrive was to install the sync tool and copy ALL of my documents folder to my new “OneDrive @ SalientPoint” folder.  BIG MISTAKE.

For a start, there are some files that OneDrive finds indigestible

  • OneNote Notebooks – which should be shared through SharePoint so OneDrive ignores them
  • Certain saved web pages
  • Files with full names (including the full path) more than 256 characters long are ignored (how 20th century – or perhaps even 1980’s)
  • Some characters aren’t allowed in filenames (including #)
  • There is a limit of 20,000 files which I exceeded due to an application backup folder with huge quantities of files in it

After moving the OneNote files, searching and replacing “#” characters, and removing some vast application backup folders I tried again, with much more success.

It took a LONG TIME to fully sync, but after my previous experience I wasn’t confident that it had all worked, and the error reporting is pretty sketch (once you’ve seen an error once it disappears for good).

To be safe, I used the “repair” function in the OneNote for Business sync client.  This renames the local folder, and creates a fresh copy from the files online.  I then used a differencing tool (Araxis Merge) to see what hadn’t synchronised.  There were a few files missing in the new version (due to things in the list above) which I was easily able to fix.

Two other warnings about the OneDrive for Business sync client

  • uses a lot of disk space (under %Users%AppData) to track changes
  • it can use a fair bit of CPU on idling Windows 7 machines

These aren’t big problems, but worth being aware of.

I have now used OneDrive for a few weeks to sync another machine, and to access files from my mobile, and it works seamlessly once properly set up!

The only exception to this is sync can get a bit upset if I rename or move files several times without letting sync catch up.  It seems to manage to track one move/rename but if there are more than that between syncs it can casue sync errors.  These are easily resolved by moving the offending files outside onedrive, letting sync complete, then moving them back in.

OneNote

On one of my laptops I am still using Outlook 2007, which doesn’t have special features to connect to Office 365.  To migrate my OneNote notebook online I first created a new  notebook using the Office 365 online application – “Create OneNote Notebook” in the OneDrive client.

This creates a “Ms-one-stub” file in OneDrive which synchronises to the PC, and you can then right click and select OneDrive for Business -> Copy Link which is a magic URL…  Then I connected to this using OneNote 2007 by using “File, Open” and in the file chooser pasting in the URL.

Once I had both the new online notebook and my current notebook open, I just dragged all my content across to the online onenotebook.

Once this was done, my OneNote experience became seamless between Desktop, Android, and Web.  Brilliant.

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