Misleading FAQ about OneDrive + Windows 10

Hello there,

I just noticed the following article
Windows 8 - OneDrive/SkyDrive Advisory / Cloud Syncing / Knowledge Base - Literature and Latte Support (tenderapp.com)
I think it should be updated. It says Microsoft removed the “smart files” (aka online files) from Windows 10, but if it was true at the time of writing, it no longer is.
:point_up: Notice the Cloud icon
OneDrive for Windows 10 DOES support “smart files/online files” and it works pretty well, enough to be set as the default method of syncing.

Source: a scrivener user that is syncing Scrivener projects (and resuming work on different PCs) on Windows 10 with OneDrive and using online-files mode since forever.


And there are those who claim the same with Google, …until it eats their project.

It may or may not happen to you, but I sure will not use a syncing method not recommended by L&L, and wouldn’t suggest others do.

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Yes, @mattarmon you are correct, the Knowledge Base article should be updated. Windows 10 OneDrive has a similar feature, rebranded “Files On-Demand”.

That said, Scrivener expects local files to be there when it needs them. While Files On-Demand might work flawlessly for your source, other Scrivener+OneDrive users may have slower/less reliable internet or PC or any of the other links in the chain that might break this technology, so it will always be a risk to a certain percent of the Scrivener population.

So my guess is L&L will never remove warnings against using this type of feature (*1) (*2). That’s the right approach for them, as anything that will potentially generate more support tickets is something they wouldn’t want their users to engage in lightly. The more technical users who know what they’re doing and understand the risks will ignore the warning and use the feature regardless.

*1 I’m just a fellow customer, so could be completely wrong about it. :sunglasses:
*2 And let’s be real, probably only a tiny percent of Scrivener users ever make their way to the Knowledge Base articles anyway. :nerd_face:



Scrivener expects local files to be there when it needs them. Any other use of any synchronization service is unsupported and entirely at your own risk. We are unlikely to remove this warning with respect to OneDrive, iCloud, Dropbox, or any other service.


With regards to the advisory in the knowledge base, that specifically refers to OneDrive on Win 8 machines, as the title should suggest. If you are using Windows 10 then this notice is not relevant to you.

If someone has information that suggests OneDrive on Win 8 is actually safe to use at this point, then all right, but I don’t think it is unwise to leave a warning up for a legacy system that some still use, that historically caused a lot of grief.

@JimRac: my guess is L&L will never remove warnings against using this type of feature (*1) (*2). That’s the right approach for them, as anything that will potentially generate more support tickets is something they wouldn’t want their users to engage in lightly. The more technical users who know what they’re doing and understand the risks will ignore the warning and use the feature regardless.

Yeah, I think that’s always going to be the safe thing to say as far as official advice goes.

Technical users are always free to do whatever they want, but so long there is a chance for a Scrivenings session to require 900 files to be downloaded in the background, and failing to do so in a spectacularly panic-inducing way, because Scrivener itself cannot be aware of that problem, it’s best to leave that kind of stuff off, even if you know what you are doing and are aware of the realities of the internet.

Yeah, I get it, I’m fine with the “being cautions” approach.

Still, the article says Windows 10 removed that feature but that’s not true. It’s a fact.


Oh okay, the last time I looked at this, a few months ago, I couldn’t find anything in the “newspapers” to suggest that they ever added the feature back, as it originally was.

From what I’ve read of On-Demand, it’s not really the same sort of thing is it? I’ve seen it referred to as a way of “previewing” files without having to download them, which isn’t how the old system worked. Surely that’s not relevant to a folder storage approach though right? To combine my ignorant marketing pamphlet description of the feature with your workflow, it sounds like you’re saying none of your files are stored locally, but somehow Scrivener is able to gain “preview” access of them as you work, and it all works fine? This is not terribly slow?

Another question: is the feature enabled by default? Or do you have to go in and turn it on yourself? If it’s the latter, there will probably never be enough data to suggest it is safe enough to recommend it. At most, safe enough to ignore and just not talk about one way or the other.

ETA: LOL, I just saw @mattarmon’s post downthread, looks like Matt has actually tried the feature out–I did not–so please ignore this post of mine!

Here’s the Microsoft feature page for On-Demand" Save disk space with OneDrive Files On-Demand for Windows - Microsoft Support

Sure looks to me like more or less the same feature as Smart Files. Contents of files are not stored locally until you need them. The key is you must be connected and signed into OneDrive, otherwise it won’t work. MS calls out “You can’t open online-only files when your device isn’t connected to the Internet.”

I didn’t see any mention of whether it’s on by default or not.

Ioa, my recommendation is to leave the Win8 advisory as is, but remove the mention of Win10 removing the feature. You may want to also put in a Win10 advisory for Files On-Demand, either clubbed with the Win8 one or or in a separate article. :grinning:


Looks like that “smart files” works differently from “On-Demand files”.

“Smart files” are similar to “On-Demand”, but the former stores some bytes of data on disk, and the latter do not (file size on disk is 0 bytes). When the file is accessed the first time, it gets downloaded, entering in a state I would call “locally cached”.
:point_up: before opening scrivener

When locally cached, the file IS on the disk and anybody can access it. If OneDrive is running in background, it updates that “local cache” if it get modified from somewhere else.
:point_up_2: after opening scrivener

From now on, the file is permanently cached locally, unless I explicitly asks OneDrive to wipe those files (the cached state). After this operation, the file will be downloaded again if anybody asks for it.

To keep it short, it’s virtually the same between enabling or disabling “On Demand” files, because you are only affecting WHEN they will be downloaded, but in the end… they are all files downladed by an external process at some point in time.

Just the first time I open the project on a specific PC. After that, it’s pretty fast as it downloads the edited files only.

Installing and configuring OneDrive for the first time gives you On-Demand files as default, from what I recall. I didn’t explicitly enable it.

However, you are right @AmberV , the two features are a little bit different tecnically, even if they share the same concept. Feel free to keep the FAQ entry as it is.

In any case, I’m aware that this topic is what we would call in Italy: di lana caprina.

For the non Italian-speaking, it comes from the latin de lana caprina, translatable to “of goat’s wool”, a way for saying the subject is worthless :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

de lana caprina | EUdict | Latin>English

My paternal grandparents emigrated from Bari to NYC early last century. Unfortunately, I never knew them. My dad spoke no Italian, my mom is German-Irish, so growing up I had and have only minimal exposure to the language.

All that to say, @mattarmon, thank you for sharing with me a bit of my heritage!


Okay, the way you describe it, it sounds pretty safe. Software tries to load a file, and the process works deep enough so that to software the delay looks like the disk is just really super slow, so it waits to load and feels like 1996 for a minute. That means the hypothetical large Scrivenings session may take a long time the first time you load an old project from years ago. With the previous technology the result would have been a quick load, but of nothing, which could then become canonical and overwrite the data as it downloaded.

It probably is fine to remove the somewhat editorial comment about Win 10 from the article though. It doesn’t add much if anything at this point, and is potentially confusing since its replacement looks, on the surface, close enough to be the same thing.

LOL :rofl: Exactly! Couldn’t have said it in better words.

100% agree. I (morally) had to point it out since I casually stubled on that FAQ, but at this point… the choice is yours.

Just to be clear: I appreciate all the efforts you guys & girls put in providing solid documentation. It’s becoming rare stuff these days.

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Amazing! That’s an interesting family tree :clap:
Never been in Bari or NYC, hope to visit both some day.

You’re welcome! I’m glad my lighthearted post was interesting in some way :blush:



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It was in fact removed at one point, when Microsoft was re-engineering the OneDrive sync client to move it away from the underlying engine to the new unified engine that worked with both consumer and business OneDrive services (that use different backends.)

It’s only been brought back relatively recently, once they had the engine stabilized, and this incarnation seems to be a lot more reliable.

It should be tested before the warning is removed.

You’re using the wrong goats for your wool :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: