Configuring the OneDrive sync app basics for Windows devices

This week is all about configuring the OneDrive sync app basics for Windows devices. The main component for accessing OneDrive for Business content on Windows devices, is the OneDrive sync app. By default the OneDrive sync app is available on Windows devices and installed per user. In this post I’ll have a look at the installation of the OneDrive sync app and the basic configuration that I think that should be applied to get the best user experience. All by using Microsoft Intune for managing the Windows devices. I’ll end this post by having a quick look at the configuration on the Windows device.

OneDrive sync app installation

The first thing that should be addressed is the installation of the OneDrive sync app. By default, the OneDrive sync app is available on Windows devices and installs per user. That means that the OneDrive sync app will be installed in the %localappdata% directory, for each user that signs in on the Windows device. That’s not always the most optimal method for addressing the OneDrive sync app installation, as it also often means that during the initial sign in of the user, an update of the OneDrive sync app will be downloaded and installed. To address that, especially on shared and multi-user devices, I like to install the OneDrive sync app with the per-machine installation option. That effectively means that the OneDrive sync app will be installed in the %Program Files% directory (keep in mind that it’s a 32-bit app) and that will make sure that all profiles on the Windows device will use the same OneDrive binaries. Besides the installation location, the behavior of OneDrive is similar.

To make sure that the OneDrive sync app is up-to-date during the initial sign in of to user – to make sure that the different available policies will apply immediately an that conditional access will work – the OneDrive sync app should be up-to-date after provisioning the device. Ideally during the Out-of-the-Box experience (OOBE), with or without using Windows Autopilot. That can be achieved by using a simple PowerShell script, of which an example is shown below.

#Download OneDrive per-machine installer
$downloadLocation = "https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=844652"
$downloadDestination = "$($env:TEMP)\OneDriveSetup.exe"
$webClient = New-Object System.Net.WebClient
$webClient.DownloadFile($downloadLocation, $downloadDestination)

#Run OneDrive per-machine installer
$installProcess = Start-Process $downloadDestination -ArgumentList "/allusers" -WindowStyle Hidden -PassThru
$installProcess.WaitForExit()

That script will download the latest version of OneDriveSetup.exe and will install it with the per-machine installation option. To make sure that it will be installed during the OOBE, wrap it as a Win32 app. As a detection method simply use the installation directory (as the directory will change) of the OneDrive sync app. The reason to go for a Win32 app is simple: a Win32 app will be installed and tracked during the Enrollment Status Page (ESP) and that will make sure that the OneDrive sync app is up-to-date before the user signs in to the Windows device.

Note: For further tuning the initial sign in of the user, have a look at this section of a post by Ben Whitmore.

OneDrive sync app basic configurations

The second thing that should be addressed is the configuration of the OneDrive sync app. The idea of configuring the OneDrive sync app on the Windows device, is to make sure that the user can be productive as fast as possible without any user interaction. The following settings are my preferred configurations that should be performed to achieve that goal. The list also contains some settings to limit potential data loss, which might not apply to all organizations. All of these settings are now available as a part of the Administrative Templates that are available in Microsoft Intune. As these settings are configured via Administrative Templates, the configurations are eventually done by using registry key values (device settings at HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\OneDrive and user settings at HCU\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\OneDrive). To configure Administrative Templates, simply open the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center portal, navigate to Device > Configuration profiles and create a new profile.

Silently sign in users to the OneDrive sync client with their Windows credentials – This setting is a must for every organization, as it’s used, on (hybrid) Azure AD joined devices, to set up the OneDrive sync app for the user that signs in on the Windows device.

When using the following configuration, the OneDrive sync app will be automatically (and silently) set up for the user that signs in on the Windows device, without the need for the user to provide credentials. That configuration will set the registry key value SilentAccountConfig to 1.

  • Setting type: Device
  • Setting value: Enabled

Silently move Windows known folders to OneDrive – This setting is strongly advised for every organization, as it’s used to set up the redirection of the known folders (Documents, Pictures, and Desktop) of the user to OneDrive.

When using the following configuration, the known folders will automatically (and silently) redirected to OneDrive without user interaction. Besides that, the user receives a notification after the folders have been successfully redirected. That configuration will set the registry key value KFMSilentOptIn to {{yourTenantId}} and KFMSilentOptInWithNotification to 1.

  • Setting type: Device
  • Setting value: Enabled
  • Tenant ID: {{yourTenantId}}
  • Show notification to users after folders have been redirected: Yes

Prevent users from redirecting their Windows known folders to their PC – This setting is strongly advised for every organization (especially in combination with the previous setting), as it’s used to prevent the user from redirecting the known folders (Documents, Pictures, and Desktop) back to the Windows device.

When using the following configuration, the user is prevented from redirecting the known folders back to the Windows device. It forces users to keep their known folders redirected to OneDrive. That configuration will set the registry key value KFMBlockOptOut to 1.

  • Setting type: Device
  • Setting value: Enabled

Use OneDrive Files On-Demand – This setting is strongly advised for every organization, as it’s used to configure OneDrive Files On-Demand. Files On-Demand will help organizations with saving storage space on the Windows device and minimizes the network impact of the OneDrive sync.

When using the following configuration, Files On-Demand is automatically configured for the user. The user will see online-only files in File Explorer, by default, and de file contents don’t download until a file is opened. That configuration will set the registry key value FilesOnDemandEnabled to 1.

  • Setting type: Device
  • Setting value: Enabled

Set the sync client update ring – This setting is strongly advised for every organization, as it’s used to configure the update ring for the OneDrive sync app. It enables the administrator to choose one of the following update rings.

  • Enterprise: In this ring the user gets new features, bug fixes, and performance improvements last.
  • Production: In this ring the user gets the latest features as they become available. This is the default.
  • Insider: In this ring the user receives builds that let them preview new features coming to OneDrive.

When using the following configuration, the update ring will be configured to the production ring and the OneDrive sync app will get the latest features as they come available. That configuration will set the registry key value GPOSetUpdateRing to 5 (Insider=4, Enterprise=0)

  • Setting type: Device
  • Setting value: Enabled
  • Update ring: Production

Allow syncing OneDrive accounts for only specific organizations – This setting is advised for organizations in specific scenarios, as it’s used to prevent the user from uploading files to other organizations by whitelisting allowed organizations.

When using the following configuration, the user will be prevented from adding an account of a different organization. The user receives an error if they attempt to add an account from an organization that is not whitelisted. When a user is already syncing files from another organization, the files stop syncing. That configuration will set the registry key AllowTenantList with a value of {{yourTenantId}} to {{yourTenantId}}.

  • Setting type: Device
  • Setting value: Enabled
  • Tenant ID: {{yourTenantId}}

Prevent users from syncing personal OneDrive accounts – This setting is advised for organizations in specific scenarios, as it’s used to prevent the user from uploading files to their personal OneDrive account.

When using the following configuration, the user will be prevented from adding a personal OneDrive account. When the user is already syncing files from a personal OneDrive, the files stop syncing. That configuration will set the registry key value of DisablePersonalSync to 1.

  • Setting type: User
  • Setting value: Enabled

End-user experience

Now let’s end this post by having a quick look at the end-user experience after applying these configurations. Let’s start by having a look a the last two settings that can be used to prevent easily “losing” data to personal and other organizational accounts. When the user will try to add a personal account, the user will be provided with a message as shown in Figure 8 (below on the left). When the user will try to add another work account, the user will be provided with a message as shown in Figure 9 (below on the right).

The experience of the other more common OneDrive sync app configurations is shown below in Figure 10. OneDrive is automatically configured (see number 1), the known folders are automatically moved to OneDrive (see number 2), the files are on-demand available (see also number 2) and the user is notified about the successful configurations (see number 3).

From an administrator perspective there are also some interesting registry and file locations to look at. To see that the per-machine installation worked as expected, a OneDrive folder should exist in the %ProgramFiles% directory (keep in mind that it’s a 32-bit app). And to see that the device configurations are applied, the corresponding registry keys should be available in HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\OneDrive. The user configurations should be available in HCU\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\OneDrive.

More information

For more information about configuring OneDrive for Business for Windows devices, refer to the following docs: