If the OneDrive client is actively syncing files, you’ll see the sync symbol (Image #1) over the OneDrive icon in the notification area. Clicking the OneDrive icon displays a list of files that are in the sync queue. On the device I was dissolving, OneDrive uploaded a series of large media files that had recently been transferred to the local drive.
Network usage in the OneDrive sync client
By default, the upload speed of the OneDrive sync client is not limited. In other words, it can saturate your upload bandwidth. If the client syncs small office files, or if a large amount of upload bandwidth is available, the default setting may not be a problem.
The default upload setting can even be an advantage, as you can be sure that all documents stored in locations synced with OneDrive are quickly uploaded to the cloud. The faster the OneDrive client can upload files to the cloud, the faster they will be available to share or access from other devices.
But since more of us work remotely because of the global pandemic, the available upload bandwidth at home is often much lower than the download bandwidth. In this case, large files that need to be uploaded by the sync client can quickly saturate the upload bandwidth. This, in turn, causes a slow response when loading websites onto devices connected to the local network.
ISP bandwidth test
To check the available upload and download bandwidth on your network, you can use a service like Speedtest.net. To understand the actual bandwidth you can get from your ISP, make sure that the network is not used by other applications or devices while the test is being performed.
It’s helpful to set a benchmark so you can better resolve connection issues when they occur. In the figure below (Figure 2), you can see that the available upload bandwidth is about 16 times lower than the download bandwidth.
K quality of the OneDrive sync app’s service versus network settings
Microsoft recommends using network quality policy (QoS) as the best way to manage network usage of the OneDrive sync client. But for users on home networks, it’s more practical to configure network usage settings in the sync app. Users can manually change the settings or they can be configured using group policies or registry settings.
Deploying QoS to protect upload bandwidth includes assigning a Differentiated Services Code Point (DSCP) value (0-63) to network packages generated by the OneDrive sync app, and then limiting the maximum upload speed the app can use. Network devices, such as routers and switches, can then use the DSCP value to classify and queue network packages to monitor bandwidth usage. Packages with a higher DSCP value are given priority.
Most home routers have some built-in QoS features, such as port-based QoS and priority schedules such as 802.1P/DSCP, even if they’re not turned on by default. But QoS may require installation or configuration in the router. If QoS is not configured for prioritization or is disabled, any DSCP values are ignored or set to 0. So it may be better to limit the bandwidth of the OneDrive sync client using the settings available in the app.
OneDrive Sync app network settings
The Network Settings of the OneDrive sync app can be changed from their default settings, which are “No limit,” to a hard limit specified in kb/s. Or in the case of upload bandwidth only, to “adjust automatically,” where the OneDrive client can only use unused bandwidth. To manually change network settings:
- Click the OneDrive client icon in the notification area.
- In the OneDrive window, click Help and Settings in the lower-right corner.
- On the menu, click Settings.
- In the Microsoft OneDrive property sheet, switch to the network.
- Set Upload Speed to Auto-Customize or Limit to: and enter a hard limit in KB/s. Optionally, you can also set a hard limit on download speed. When you’re done, click OK.
Network upload and download speed settings can also be managed using group policies or registry settings. For more information about managing OneDrive with Group Policy, see microsoft’s website here. And view Network Usage Schedule for the OneDrive sync app on the Microsoft website for more detailed information about managing network bandwidth.