Attention One Drive users

According to Microsoft, they are currently rolling out a new One Drive Files-on-Demand “experience” to Mac users. Among other things, this update appears to improve handling of Mac OS “package” files, like the format used by Scrivener projects.

I have no information beyond what’s in this announcement, and do not personally use One Drive. Please contact Microsoft with any questions.


I’m concerned about this:

I can’t post a link so search for “Inside the new Files On-Demand Experience on macOS.” It showcases the changes made to OneDrive and Monterey’s upcoming 12.3 changes.

OneDrive has never been recommended by Scrivener (IIRC,) but if “on-premise” cloud storage/sync kernel extension is being deprecated in Monterey (12.3) for good, that doesn’t bode well for the other services, though based upon the comments in the MS link, Dropbox may have a much better programming team. Forcing all files to be “on demand” as a default setting w/out user input is an egregious failure, IMO.

Hoping Scrivener is addressing this new info—about a week old now) —in their base documentation.

I’ve merged your post over to this one, which seems a lot more relevant to me than a discussion from 2009.

OneDrive has never been recommended by Scrivener…

With the exception of an old issue involving a default setting in Windows 8, we haven’t seen a degree of reports that would suggest it is unsafe to use. Parsing your words very literally though, it is true we don’t recommend it—but some people take that to mean a warning to not use it, whereas the literal parsing of that could also mean we just don’t recommend anything specifically, and leave that up to you.

As for OneDrive’s on-demand thing, I’d have to dig up an older discussion about it, but on the Windows side, users were reporting it seems to work fine with folder-level editing like Scrivener does.

It’s not surprising to me that they are having issues implementing it for Apple operating systems though. Apple is continuing to move further away from extensible systems and toward black box designs like iOS. The tools they were using to make “on demand” type stuff safe, isn’t there any more (this is an issue for Dropbox too, though they may be trying to work around it).

I would also add that overall we do not recommend (in the sense of a warning) any kind of “on demand”, “smart sync” or obscurely titled stuff like “optimize my disk space” settings, in cloud tools. They are not good for complex file formats, and in general I would say they are unsafe to use as you no longer have control over your file system, and your local backups are compromised, missing files the cloud service deems fit to delete.

Yes, thanks for moving me, and I have also read that this change affects Dropbox…or will, once Monterey 12.3 comes around and the kernel extension for syncing is deprecated.

I think the short answer is to stop upgrading the OS, but Apple definitely (and it appears MS via OneDrive) is getting more aggressive about moving everyone “forward,” and making decisions for us, so that becomes much more difficult.

I, personally, have no interest in the occasional calls for SaaS-type software, except where it makes corporate sense. For an uninterrupted experience, what I would expect most writers aspire to, Scrivener on a notificationally-challenged device, is preferred. Yeah, Apple introduced “Focus,” but I’d rather be at a computer that didn’t need that in the first place.

As for sync, I’m sticking with Dropbox for now. I’ve never considered online services to be a “backup,” per se, just another possible copy. I prefer local, offline, backups. This will change my workflow and recommendations for future cloud services. It’s just more clarity re: how some vendors don’t place a priority on user flexibility or control of their own data.

Oh yes, to clarify what I meant when I said it can compromise your backups: if a server somewhere in the world starts deleting your local files as a feature, or never actually downloads them all in the first place (when migrating to a new machine), then your actual backup—the offline stuff you create by mirroring your drive, is compromised. Those files don’t exist for you, until you download them.

If you read farther down in the article linked by kewms, you’ll see this:

A standard feature of Files On-Demand on all our platforms is the ability to mark files as “Always Keep on This Device.” Internally, we call this operation “pinning."

When a file is pinned, it is downloaded to disk and is always available offline, even if there is no network connection. The presence of the check mark icon indicates that a file is in this state. Folders can also be pinned, which means that all files and folders underneath the folder will inherit the state, and new files added to that folder will also inherit the state.

Pinning a file on the new Files On-Demand platform means that its contents will be downloaded into the OneDrive cache. Because is the file is in the OneDrive cache, it can always be provided to the sync root whenever it is needed, even if the machine is offline or the OneDrive app isn’t running. The presence of the gray check mark indicates a file that is in this state.

You may notice that pinned files sometimes have an icon next to them that indicates they aren’t downloaded. This icon just means that the file isn’t in the sync root. If a file has the gray check icon, it is still always available because OneDrive has the file in its cache and can always provide it.

So just make sure that you pin the folder where you store your Scrivener projects (if you’re storing them under your OneDrive folder), or your backups folder (if you’re storing it on OneDrive, especially if you are not creating zipped backups.)

If pinning worked as advertised in the update, it should have respected the existing setting for local files remaining on the local drive. Comments of Monterey users do not support this being the case. MS appears to make assumptions in the OneDrive update causing undue challenges. That is what concerns me, not the intent, but the reality.

These may be Apple-mandated changes affecting only Mac, Monterey, and local-to-cloud-sync users at present, but how a vendor manages these changes matters greatly. Are you willing to trust a company with a “release now and fix later” mentality? Scrivener I trust… Dropbox I trust (still,) but “cloud” services are being tied too tightly to the ephemeral nature of computer software.

It would not be the first time that an Apple update causes issues for vendors until everyone finally gets on the same sheet of music. I have more faith in modern Microsoft writing platform-agnostic code and working with the platform owners to resolve any challenges that come up than I would have ben 10 years ago. It could be a Microsoft bug, too, but this stuff is core to the value proposition of how OneDrive is supposed to work, so I suspect issues will get resolved.

At the same time, my entire lifetime of computing (and 25+ years IT career) has convinced me that everyone touches a computer is a user, and at some point mis-interprets, makes mistakes, and mis-remembers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen sync difficulties on all sorts of platforms over the past decade be resolved by waiting (or the occasional service restart) before attempting to perform file operations after making a change.

Amen. Reboot before almost anything else.

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