"Add shortcut to OneDrive" Vs "Sync"

john john 926 Reputation points

Inside any SharePoint online document library, we have 2 options: -

  1. Add shortcut to OneDrive
  2. Sync

But I am not sure what is the exact differences between the 2 options? for example in my case i am syncing the library using OneDrive application and using the "Sync" option + I have my one drive personal site synced to my machine using OneDrive application. So when i am using the "Add shortcut to OneDrive" the library will be synced to my machine similar to how the "Sync" work. so what is the exact differences between the 2 options? and why Microsoft recommends using the "Add shortcut to OneDrvie" over using the "Sync" option? In other words, at the end if our one drive personal site is synced to our machine, then the 2 options will add the files to our machines..


A group of Microsoft Products and technologies used for sharing and managing content, knowledge, and applications.
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SharePoint Development
SharePoint Development
SharePoint: A group of Microsoft Products and technologies used for sharing and managing content, knowledge, and applications.Development: The process of researching, productizing, and refining new or existing technologies.
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  1. Yanli Jiang - MSFT 21,371 Reputation points Microsoft Vendor

    Hi @john john ,

    Here is a summary of the main differences:

    1. The Add shortcut to OneDrive option does not sync anything to your computer; it just creates a link or bookmark to the document library or folder in your OneDrive for Business. This way, you can access the content from any device using the OneDrive app or website. You can also share the content with others more easily using OneDrive. However, you need to have an internet connection to access the content, and you cannot work offline.
    2. The Sync option syncs the entire document library or folder to your computer using the OneDrive sync app. This way, you can access the content from your File Explorer or Finder, and you can work offline. Any changes you make will be synced automatically when you go online. However, syncing large libraries or folders can take up a lot of storage space on your computer and affect performance.

    Microsoft recommends using the "Add shortcut to OneDrive" option over the "Sync" option in certain scenarios, such as when:

    • The document library contains a large number of files that would take up too much space on your local machine.
    • You need to access the files from a device with limited storage space.
    • You need to access the files from a device that is not owned by you.

    In summary, the "Sync" option downloads the entire document library to your local machine, while the "Add shortcut to OneDrive" option adds a shortcut to the library to your OneDrive folder on your local machine. The option you choose depends on your specific needs and circumstances.

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    11 people found this answer helpful.

  2. watana 30 Reputation points

    you cannot work offline.

    "Add shortcut to OneDrive" does work offline.
    User's image

    6 people found this answer helpful.

  3. Jeremy Dick 5 Reputation points

    A lot of incorrect information here so I hope to clarify. Both essentially do the same thing just in different ways. Sync doesn't actually sync anything by default but indexes everything (cloud icon). Only once you actually open something is it then available fully offline (green check mark). Or if you go into the item menu and select keep offline (this will automatically sync offline an entire folder for example). Shortcut option does basically the same thing. Just instead of making a hard link in your file explorer it puts a more flexible shortcut into your OneDrive. Those links can be moved and renamed and they still work just fine. But all the files within that link are again indexed (cloud icon) and become available offline and kept in sync once opened. So both provide the same benefits. But shortcuts are also easier to remove (just delete) and available in all locations you find OneDrive. And I'm assuming the big reason Microsoft is recommending shortcuts (and I'd imagine phasing out the sync option, why have both) is its far less problematic. Things like files getting locked, being unable to sync other folders from the same library, files getting corrupted, etc I so far have only every seen with the older sync option. So I tell everyone to stop using sync and use the newer shortcut option. And I hope MS just removes sync soon.

    1 person found this answer helpful.
    0 comments No comments

  4. Kristina Campbell 5 Reputation points

    The add shortcut to OneDrive integrates folder structure with user's personal OneDrive and also creates local folder structure outline to allow users to work from folder explorer view. This causes problems when users go into OneDrive for the web and start cleaning up their files and didn't disconnect from the SharePoint site. If a user renames the shortcut, it can break the link between the SharePoint site and now users are working with a duplicate copy between local computer and personal OneDrive that the link is no longer connected to the 3rd data point for the actual SharePoint or teams site library.

    When using SYNC it creates a connection directly from your local machine to the actual SharePoint library and does not link into the users Personal OneDrive.

    User's image

    The "Add Shortcut to my OneDrive" has been a horrible feature addition resulting in countless hours of detangling OneDrive issues and data recovery. This is due to end users cleaning up their personal OneDrive's thinking they are finished with a project and don't need files anymore and forgot to remove shortcut and just deleted the folder/files, or users start reorganizing the folder structure in their personal OneDrive moving folders or renaming so will be alphabetical order in their personal OneDrive in "My Files" and because they used the shortcut instead of sync they have now renamed, moved or deleted files and folders located in the SharePoint sites and was not just their OneDrive they were changing. Tickets come flying into the service desk:

    • Files have disappeared from site.
    • Link is broken to the folder shared with external party or other users internally.
    • I'm updating files but nobody is seeing the changes I am making when opening source files.
    • OneDrive errors cannot sync already syncing to source.
    • I shared a file from my OneDrive but user is getting access denied.

    The "Add Shortcut to my OneDrive" creates a 3-point connection between SharePoint site, local machine folder explorer view and users Personal OneDrive.

    Personal and Business files need to be kept separate. If Sync goes away it will be devastating.

    If end users want to work from browser only, they can use the pin to quick access from the site library and will have access to see the different site document libraries from the web view when working from Personal OneDrive from the web.

    We are hiding the "Add shortcut to my OneDrive" and life is beautiful again!

    Disable "Add Shortcut to OneDrive"

    Connect-SPOService "https://yourtennant-admin.sharepoint.com"

    Set-SPOTenant -DisableAddShortCutsToOneDrive $True

    1 person found this answer helpful.

  5. Denis Charpentier 0 Reputation points

    I find that to "Add a shortcut to OneDrive" you need to be the owner of the Teams team/site, whereas any team member can "synchronize".