Over at the Microsoft Technical Community, a forums member asks:

A colleague reported not being able to sync using OneDrive for Business using the older groove.exe app today. I tried myself and got the error “This library can no longer be synced by this application”. I tried to go to SharePoint admin and switch syncing back to the old client, but this option is now gone! Has Microsoft taken the OneDrive for Business app behind the woodshed today?

This change was announced in my Message Center during July:

The latest version of OneDrive sync supports syncing of shared OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online sites. Starting mid-August, the “Sync” button on SharePoint site libraries and Office 365 Groups will point to the latest OneDrive sync app, as opposed to the previous OneDrive for Business sync client that it points to today. The new sync client will improve reliability and performance and will offer new features, such as selective sync, support for large files (up to 10 GB), and removal of the 20,000 file sync limit. Updates to the new sync client will occur independently of Office and Windows updates.

The SharePoint admin center will no longer have the option to sync SharePoint sites with the previous OneDrive for Business sync client.

We’ll begin gradually rolling this out to customers mid-August, and the rollout will be completed by the end of September.

As they note in their forums post, there are scenarios in which the old Groove.exe sync client is still required. Those scenarios are listed on the Microsoft Support website. Many of the limitations are for long-standing issues like file sizes and file names with special characters, which are areas in which Microsoft has been slowly making improvements.

One particular issue stands out as being the cause of concern for the forums poster above:

OneDrive Libraries with CheckoutRequired columns or metadata, or when Draft Item Security is set to either Only users who can edit or Only users who can approve items in Version Settings of the library.

In the Message Center notification Microsoft called out several scenarios that are not impacted by this sync client change:

On-premises instances of OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online site libraries with Information Rights Management enabled, and SharePoint Online libraries using external sharing will continue to not be impacted by this change.

However, the checkout requirements mentioned above are not listed as one of the scenarios that will not be impacted. That suggests to me that either Microsoft has found that scenario to be of low enough usage that they can proceed with the change right now without impacting a large number of customers, or that they plan to fix that limitation very soon. Either way, it’s not a good story for customers who fall into that category. In the forums thread a Microsoft representative suggests that raising a support ticket about the issue may result in your tenant being moved to a later stage of the rollout, which is planned to be completed by the end of September. But that’s only helpful if Microsoft does plan to fix the issue in the new OneDrive sync client before then.

Oddly, the Message Center notification says “there is nothing you need to do to prepare for this change”, but clicking the “Additional information” link does take you to a useful page with more information about the change, and specifically calls out the impact to customers with libraries that require checkout.

Too Soon to Kill the Groove.exe OneDrive for Business Sync Client?

The “opt out of the sync upgrade” link takes you to the bottom of the page containing instructions for opting out of the “GrooveBlockOption”.

We’ve created a tenant admin PowerShell control that you can use to opt out or opt in to this sync update.

Set-SPOTenantSyncClientRestriction [-GrooveBlockOption <String> “OptOut”|”HardOptIn”|”SoftOptIn”] 

In particular, to opt out, a tenant would run the command:

Set-SPOTenantSyncClientRestriction -GrooveBlockOption “OptOut” 

No specific guidance is provided on how long you can maintain that opt out status though.

Has this change impacted your users? Are you still relying on the Groove.exe sync client for your OneDrive for Business usage?

About the Author

Paul Cunningham

Paul is a former Microsoft MVP for Office Apps and Services. He works as a consultant, writer, and trainer specializing in Office 365 and Exchange Server. Paul no longer writes for Practical365.com.

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