Archive for the ‘Windows 8’ Category

I’ve discussed at length how to fix SkyDrive sync issues. Check out Another possible solution for OneDrive / SkyDrive sync issues and Possible OneDrive / SkyDrive sync fix for Windows 8. I have found that sometimes even resetting SkyDrive doesn’t fix the problem. Microsoft will charge you for a brute force approach, but I figured out one more option if nothing you’ve tried has started syncing back up again. Before you follow these steps, try the other two – this is a last ditch resort!

1. Make sure all other desktop and “modern” applications are NOT running. Only File Explorer should be running. Word, Chrome, whatever – they should all be closed.

2. Press Windows Key + X, select Command Prompt (Admin), and the Windows command prompt should appear.

3. Make sure the OneDrive app isn’t running – right-click it and select Close if you see it in the taskbar.

4. Type skydrive /shutdown

5. Wait a minute.

6. Right-click the task bar and select Task Manager.

7. Keep trying to end the OneDrive Sync Engine process until it disappears, as shown in the figure below. This may take a few tries.

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8. Open the following folder:
C:\Users\your user account name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\SkyDrive\settings
and you’ll see something like the figure below:

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9. Delete all the files except for ClientPolicy.ini and global.ini.

10. Once they have been deleted, type the following: shutdown -r -t 0

11. Your computer should restart.

12. Log back in and your files should start resyncing. You’ll probably see results within a few hours. This will depend on the total number of files you have on OneDrive. You’ll also see downloads.txt and another funky-looking file start growing in size. If you see that, you know things are working, and OneDrive has started rebuilding everything.

I’ve been underwhelmed by Microsoft’s response for documentation regarding SkyDrive and its inner workings. So, I’m on a mission to break things down. I’ll update this blog post as I find more information. As always, any info provided here is used at your own risk. I take no responsibility if you hose a system.

In case you want to see all the SkyDrive process settings:

C:\Users\<your account name>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\SkyDrive\settings

There are two files of interest:

global.ini and ClientPolicy.ini

There were some settings that surprised me in ClientPolicy.ini:

  • MaxFileSizeBytes = 2147483647 Is the 2 GB max file size mentioned on MSFT’s site? They should probably mention that, since all shipping systems are 64-bit and video files and ISOs can be pretty big.
    • Update 7-Jan-2015: It appears Microsoft has upped this to 10 terabytes.
  • Tier1MaxFileSizeBytes = 2147483647 These would be Microsoft’s Office file types
  • Tier1FileInclusionList = |doc|docm|docx|dot|dotm|dotx|odc|odp|ods|odt|pot|potm|potx|pps|ppsm|ppsx|ppt|pptm|pptx|rtf|vdw|vdx|vsd|vsdm|vsdx|vssm|vssx|vst|vstm|vstx|vsw|vsx|vtx|xla|xlam|xlm|xls|xlsb|xlsm|xlsx|xlt|xltm|xltx|xlw|
  • MaxItemsInOneFolder = 150000 I wonder if this caused my earlier sync problems, since I had more than 150K files in a folder, and then I deleted the folder. Maybe that messed up Microsoft’s storage system in the cloud? When I finally had a Microsoft technician look at my account, things magically started working a day later. I didn’t change anything, but what happened on their end?
  • MaxClientMBTransferredPerDay = 131072
    • Update 7-Jan-2015: It appears Microsoft has upped this to over 250000. Makes sense, given average home broadband speeds.
  • MaxClientRequestsPerDay = 500000 So what happens if you reach your limit?
  • NumberOfConcurrentUploads = 3 I’d rather have more, but it appears the next setting helps here, even though it’s not accessible via the SkyDrive app.
  • AllowUserOverrideOfConcurrentUploads = true
  • SyncTelemetryURL = http://wlepsi3.redmond.corp.microsoft.com/SyncDiag.ashx This one bothers me a bit. What is this URL tracking? And why isn’t it over SSL?
  • LowDiskSpaceLimitMB = 3072 If you want to override the low disk space limit… I’m going to try this on my Dell Venue Pro 8. Update: It worked! Yay!
    • Update 7-Jan-2015: It appears Microsoft has lowered this to 200MB. Much better for tablets! Of course, in the future, tablets will probably have 64GB, 128GB or more by default due to lowered storage costs.
  • AutomaticVerboseLoggingEnabled = true I wonder where the log file is. There’s one in this folder, but it’s used by the SkyDrive process. I’ll play with that in a VM so I don’t mess anything up Smile

I’m also curious as to why SkyDrive.exe can’t be opened in a decompiler. If I request it, the file system says the file doesn’t exist. Is c:\windows\system32\SkyDrive.exe simply a shim? Very interesting.

Breaking down the SkyDrive process, I found what appears to be additional command line parameters. I have not tested these as of yet.

/shutdown
/register
/unregister
/installperfcounters
/uninstallperfcounters
/background
/watson

Until next time… enjoy!

Best,

-Auri

Quick thought for the day: Microsoft’s OneDrive doesn’t appear to act “smart” when it’s installed on a tablet, or what I prefer to call a Limited Storage Space Device. The premise of OneDrive is clear: store your stuff in the cloud and keep your device clean of clutter, holding local only what you need. Google made the same business case with their Chromebooks and Google Drive, but “cloud-first” is in its teenage years.

On a Limited Storage Device, such as a tablet or a phone, OneDrive should be smart enough to take offline, locally cached files, and make them “online only” again, freeing up the space. It doesn’t do this, and thus silently, and sometimes quickly, eats up storage on the device. Case in point: I recently drove Tail of the Dragon and took hundreds of photos. About one gigabyte of these I copied from my camera to OneDrive. One day later, my Dell Venue Pro 8 tablet started complaining of low drive space. OneDrive had copied the files from the cloud to the device, automatically, even though there was no reason to do so. The device wasn’t requesting those files. Yet, even if for whatever reason there was a valid request, shouldn’t OneDrive have “put them back” in the Cloud?

Microsoft – if you ever listen about device categories you’ve had a tough time understanding – you can’t treat these limited storage devices like mainstream PCs. You have to, pardon the pun, “think differently” and make your software do the same. The above scenario, where your Cloud solution makes a non-mainstream device relatively unusable due to a mainstream PC approach, is very common amongst your current product offerings. My gosh, just look at Office on a tablet.

Thanks for listening Smile

-Auri

In an earlier post, I pointed to permissions issues causing SkyDrive to stop syncing. I found another solution that also appears to have worked, causing SkyDrive to sync again. Try moving your SkyDrive folder to another location, such as another drive, an SD card you never remove, or other similar area. I suggest a permanent location, not one you unplug and might forget to re-attach Smile I don’t know how long my fix will last this time, but try it and let me know.

Here’s how you change locations:

1. In Windows Explorer, right-click SkyDrive and select Properties.

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2. When SkyDrive Properties appears, select the Location tab and click Move.

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Note: In my example, I’ve already moved the folder. In yours, you will probably see c:\Users\username\SkyDrive

3. Choose the folder to move your files to. I called mine Auri’s SkyDrive and put it on my M: drive. Make sure you have plenty of room for your files! This will not trigger a download of all your files. However, you want to have enough room that the copy of existing files doesn’t fail.

4. Click Apply and wait a while. The window may freeze while Windows does its work. On a side note, if any Microsoft engineers are listening, this would be a great place to enhance the user experience. For example, a please wait indicator.

5. Once Windows has copied all the files to the new location, wait a while for Windows to sync, maybe a day. By then, your files may be back in sync and all will be good in the world.

Good luck!

-Auri

I’ve spent the past few days using Dell’s solution for those who need a keyboard for their Venue Pro 8 tablet. It has come in handy when needing to write emails and edit documents. I have yet to write code with it, although I plan to soon. Unfortunately, while the keyboard and case match the Venue Pro 8 perfectly, it’s hard to recommend this accessory for medium to heavy duty work until Dell treats the keyboard with the attention to detail afforded its laptop-bound brethren.

Every time I use a compact keyboard I am reminded all designers of such keyboards must be sadists. They move keys around to obscenely hard to reach places. Sometimes they remove keys altogether, making the keyboard worthless. Dell’s Tablet Wireless Keyboard for their Venue 8 Pro is no exception. Take a gander at the photo below. Why does the keyboard need two Alt keys? Couldn’t that second Alt be used for the apostrophe, which is explicably a Function key combination? Why is the question mark key on the left, next to a full size shift key, when it could have been put in its normal position next to a smaller right shift key?

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That’s not to say it’s all bad. Actually, the keyboard itself is quite good for short emails and corrections to documents. Expectations are usually low for compact keyboards, so this is better than some when it comes to comfort. I didn’t make many mistakes, although any time I needed certain punctuation I had to stop and think. It’s the ergonomic and functionality decisions, and aforementioned omissions, that make absolutely no sense. For example:

  • The keyboard has no backlight. If Microsoft can insert a backlight in a keyboard half as thin, why can’t Dell?
  • Two watch batteries are required. Yes, it comes with them, but those things are expensive. Why isn’t there a rechargeable battery that could charge via MicroUSB from the Venue Pro’s USB port?
  • I said it before, but come on – what in the world were they thinking with the apostrophe and quote keys? They’ve moved from a normal location – next to : and ; – to requiring a Function Key combination. But they left { and } intact? Who uses those often while typing in Word or web sites? Maybe developers, like me, but we need the quote and apostrophe, too!
  • The keyboard connects magnetically to the case – which is awesome – except, the keyboard doesn’t deactivate itself when the magnet is engaged. That causes key presses to turn the tablet on, thus draining the battery. It also drains the keyboard’s battery. It sounds like a simple engineering task, magnet turning off the power circuit, but maybe I missed something? The magnet is also a bit weak. Don’t treat this like Microsoft’s Surface keyboard. You’ll want to place the keyboard elsewhere if you’re only going to use the Venue Pro 8 as a tablet.
  • If the on-screen keyboard can fit all keys on the Venue Pro’s screen, why can’t the physical keyboard that has more physical room?

If you were a product manager, would you let this thing ship with such obvious issues?

Those gripes aside, I like the keyboard, and its design complements the Venue Pro 8. The design of the folio case, it’s built-in pen holder, and magnetic grip of the keyboard to the case all make this a worthwhile addition to your Dell Venue Pro accessory list. Just don’t expect to get much work done with it if you need apostrophes, dashes, or quotes.

Pros: Keyboard perfectly matches contours of the Venue Pro 8, and connects magnetically. Package comes with a case that looks very nice and can hold the digitizer pen. Keyboard can be left in the car, at home, and so forth, so you don’t have to carry it around when not needed.

Cons: The keyboard + case combo seems to weigh as much as the Venue Pro, practically doubling the weight. Alcohol must have been involved when deciding the keyboard layout. The magnet is a bit weak. The keyboard isn’t good for any long documents due to the layout’s inexplicable key locations.

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Figure: The keyboard connects magnetically to the flap on the case.

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Figure: The keyboard looks great even when not being used. That doesn’t mean it folds back like the Surface – it will fall off if you treat it like Microsoft’s prodigy.

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Figure: The keyboard runs off two CR2025 3 volt batteries. The tray is a bit difficult to remove.

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Figure: The keyboard.

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Figure: Unwrapping.

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Figure: The packaging. Front.

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Figure: The packaging. Back.

There’s no doubt about it – SkyDrive (now OneDrive) is broken in Windows 8.1. At some point, your files may stop syncing, and Windows simply will not let you know. It happened to me across all devices I had upgraded from 8.0 to 8.1. Many forum posts: here, here, here, and here, are complaining about the problem. The real issue? Nobody knows. Microsoft hasn’t been helpful, either, turning a deaf ear to consumer complaints, and offering no advice in their forums other than to run their SkyDrive troubleshooter. What does that do? It simply restarts the SkyDrive service most of the time, which doesn’t solve the problem.

Researching the issue a bit more, I noticed in the File Manager event log, a message of “Error message: Offline availability: found one item with an empty resourceId, aborting”. That sounded like a permissions/access issue may be causing a file to be unreadable. This lead me to try resetting all the permissions on the SkyDrive folder. Guess what? That process caused other pop-ups to appear. Pop-ups with error messages about file permissions being unable to be changed or accessed. Aha! Progress! If those files can’t be read by SkyDrive’s sync tool, maybe that’s holding up all my syncing!

By moving out those files above and restarting the SkyDrive services, my sync is working again! I don’t know how long this will last, but I hope the steps below will help you troubleshoot the issue on your end.

1. Open Explorer and right-click your SkyDrive folder and select Properties.

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2. Click Security, then Advanced, and you should see something similar to the dialog below. Make sure SYSTEM, Administrators, and your own user name all have Full control.

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3. Check the box Replace all child object permission entries with inheritable permissions from this object and click Apply.

4. Make note of any files on which you receive errors so you can find them and move them out of the SkyDrive folder to somewhere else. This appears to be what was tripping things up for SkyDrive on my end.

5. Move the files from Step 4 to a folder outside of SkyDrive. I zipped these up and kept that ZIP folder in SkyDrive. I have not yet found the reason for those files to have issues. It’s possible setting their permissions again may fix it. My guess is some files may have domain credentials attached that may cause trouble, since I sync with my work PC.

6. Open an elevated command prompt by pressing Windows + X and selecting Command Prompt (Admin).

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7. Shut down SkyDrive by typing skydrive /shutdown in c:\windows\system32. You should be starting in c:\windows\system32, but if not, you can type cd “c:\windows\system32” to get there. Wait two minutes.

8. Start up SkyDrive by typing skydrive from that same prompt, this time without the /shutdown command, and wait two minutes. Launch the SkyDrive app from the Start menu as well, just to make sure everything’s kickstarted. Check to see if the SkyDrive Sync Engine Host process is running in Task Manager. You can press Control + Shift + Escape to bring up Task Manager, sort by name, and find SkyDrive Sync Engine Host under Processes. If the SkyDrive process doesn’t launch after a couple minutes, try restarting your machine.

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9. You’ll see a lot of disk activity while SkyDrive appears to scan your files and folders all over again. Depending on the number of files and folders you have to sync, this could take a while.

10. Check again in a few hours and see if your SkyDrive folder online appears to properly match with your machine. If it does, then my fix worked.

Good luck!

Best,

-Auri

I’ve posted this in Microsoft’s forums, but in case anyone else is running into this issue, I’d like to know…

Situation:

– I have a home security camera. All motion detected photos are saved to a folder on a home machine, located in my local SkyDrive folder. I forgot to clean up this folder, so there were hundreds of thousands (~90 gigs) of files in the individual daily folders in this folder.

– On SkyDrive.com, to speed up the delete process, I deleted all folders I no longer wanted. Remember, this is 90 gigs or so. I figured this would delete those files from my home machine.

– Upon deletion, SkyDrive started copying all those deleted files to *every connected device’s Recycle Bin*, including my Windows tablet with its scant 32 gig drive!!!

– Now all my machines’ primary drives are filling up due to the Recycle Bin being filled by SkyDrive. This is especially troubling on the tablet, which is crashing often due to being out of space as it fills up every 30 mins or so, syncing over WiFi. No, I don’t have SkyDrive set to sync any folders to that device.

– All machines are running Windows 8.1. The tablet came with 8.1, and the desktops and laptop were upgraded to 8.1 from 8.0.

Bug:

– If a file is deleted on SkyDrive, it should not immediately be transferred to all connected devices. This is especially true for tablets.

Solutions / Workarounds:

– None known.

– Feature request possibility: This should be a feature that can be enabled or disabled, and disabled by default.

– Fix: Microsoft should disable the copying of deleted files to all connected devices, and come up with a better solution for handling this scenario.

I’m looking forward to feedback, as this has caused tremendous amounts of trouble in my ability to use Windows devices. It’s almost pointless to have a Windows tablet, since my online SkyDrive activity is not cognisent (sp?) of what device types to which its connected.

Thanks,

-Auri