Resolving slow OneDrive upload in Windows 10

May 10, 2018 |

greater than 16 minutes

Most companies already find it cheaper and more convenient to store data online. The number of people working remotely all over the world has reached unprecedented figures and keeps on growing. The story is similar at the individual level.

For every device (PC or mobile) on any given platform, there are multiple cloud services to choose from that will satisfy all your needs or come very close. If your system is running Windows 10, then OneDrive is easy one of the top choices for a cloud or online-based storage. Maybe the best if we are honest. Well, for most people at least.

For example, Dropbox, a massive player in the market, offers a mere 2GB of storage free, but Microsoft’s cloud storage trumps this amount of free space by a significant margin (more than twice the amount stated). Everyone gets 5GB of free storage with OneDrive. It was 15GB of free space once upon a time, but you can still earn this amount. If you want even more room, you would be hard-pressed to find a competing service that provides the flexibility of plans and value for money that betters the options available on OneDrive.

To round it off, Microsoft premium collection of apps (Office 365) work in complete harmony with its online storage service, OneDrive is available on every platform and reasonably integrated, and its security—encryption through Azure Information Protection—though not the best in its class— is decent enough.

Like every other Microsoft service, OneDrive has its limitations. Users have complained of sluggish or slow upload and download speeds, OneDrive being slow to synchronize their files, slow updates, and so on.

According to Microsoft, the official size limit allowed for a single file is 10GB. Therefore, in theory, you are not supposed to experience any problem uploading items below this limit. However, we have seen reports from many users confirming that they have issues uploading files less than 1GB for example or even any file size at all.

Several variables determine the speed of your upload. How far the nearest Microsoft server is located is an excellent example of factors which you do not control. Of course, you have power over a good number of variables, and you can manipulate them as you like.

How to fix slow OneDrive upload in Windows 10?

In this guide, we are going to focus on solving the central issue of slow uploads and would try to explore useful fixes for the auxiliaries where possible.

  1. Take a look at your internet speed:

Maybe the storage client itself is not to blame for the slow OneDrive download and upload speed? If your connection is too slow, then data transfer is bound to struggle.

  • Launch your browser and find out connection speed. To do a speed test, search for “internet speed test” in Google without the quotes and click on the first result you see
  • After the page loads, click on Go to begin the test. After its completion, try to analyze the result obtained.

If your upload or download speed is less than 0.5 Mbps, then your connection is weak. Consider upgrading your internet connection plan or switching to another ISP with faster speeds.

Look at the value of the ping too. Ping indicates the reaction time your internet connections. A fast ping suggests a more active (or responsive) connection. The test measures ping in milliseconds, so the lower the value, the better.

  • To find out how long it would take for the transfer of a specific amount of data, search for “upload time calculator” or “download time calculator” without the quotes on your browser
  • Examine the values of the upload (and download) speed in OneDrive and compare it to the figures you got from the internet speed test.

If they do not differ significantly, then you know that OneDrive is not to blame for your trouble. In fact, it is probably doing its best with the resources you have. You could try uploading your files through OneDrive late in the night when your internet connection is under less pressure from other users.

If nothing changes, you should consider upgrading your connectivity plan or buy more bandwidth. A faster internet connection should significantly improve your upload speeds.

On the other hand, if there is a significant difference between OneDrive data transfer speed and your stated internet connection speed, then try to find out if your ISP (Internet Service Provider) is throttling your connection. Otherwise, you must further investigate the situation to identify and resolve the issues to fix download speed for OneDrive

  1. Connect to the internet directly:

For all the convenience or comfortability the use of WIFI provides, connecting your system to the internet via cable is the mode that guarantees the fastest connection speeds possible. Connectivity through an Ethernet cable is relatively easy to set up and use.

A router is not all-powerful. Internet speeds drop significantly when several users are on the web through a single router. The distance between your computer and the device location is another variable that affects the data transfer rate. The field set up by routers is also prone to interference from other networks or from devices and channels that operate on the same frequency.

Also, check that your internet software settings allow for direct connection. If the data your system is transferring goes through a slow proxy, then the loss in speed would be reflected on your OneDrive upload rate. Follow these instructions to ensure that your Windows device links up with the internet directly:

  • Press the Windows start button on your keyboard and input change proxy settings into the available text box to search for it
  • From the displayed result, click on Change proxy settings. After the window opens, scroll down and locate the Manual proxy setup
  • Toggle the switch off for Use a proxy server

Make sure your Proxy is turned off.

If you are using a VPN, end its connection. Disable all your firewalls too. Do away with any application that can significantly affect your internet connection. If you altered the connection settings for your system, please restore them to their default values and check if things improve.

  1. Adjust your upload and download speed settings:

Your OneDrive settings themselves might be responsible for the sluggish transfer of data you are experiencing. In the program menu, some options allow you to limit the upload and download speeds. Microsoft probably provided this feature so that the OneDrive application would not overreach, interfere or deprive other programs of bandwidth when resources are in short supply.

To be fair, nobody would blame you for throwing caution to the wind when you are struggling to get your files uploaded in reasonable time. OneDrive is your priority here. Of course, if your upload speeds improve, you probably would stop caring about the effect of this change of settings on others. Follow these instructions to alter the required parameters:

  • Locate the OneDrive icon among the items on your Taskbar. Right-click on it and select Settings from the menu that pops up
  • After the required window opens, navigate to the Network tab
  • Change the value of the Upload rate to Don’t limit. You can also set the Download rate to Don’t limit

Set the Download and Upload rates to Don’t limit.

By removing the limits on upload and download rate, you surely would notice a significant increase in the rate of data transfer.

  1. Check the programs on your PC:

Now it is time you understood that the influence or activities of other programs, applications or processes running on your system could be responsible for OneDrive’s slow data transfer rate. Windows, in theory, is supposed to share or allocate system resources among tasks or programs in order of their relative priority to optimize performance. Internet connectivity is one of those things. Processing power is another.

Some applications or processes always run in the background (unknown to you). Some of them are set up to launch themselves at startup while others are only capable of starting after you open their parent program and do not close them after you exit their opened windows. In fact, many applications are poorly optimized to work in tandem with other programs, while some developers deliberately create their products to compete vigorously at the expense of other items.

Also, a good number of standard software (without any input from the user) are capable of searching for and installing updates, sending reports or diagnostic logs, refreshing their content, and so on. It is apparent that all of these activities require considerable resources (processing power and data) from your computer.

Follow these instructions on the checking of the programs using up your system resources:

  • Press and hold the CTRL, ALT buttons, then hit the Delete key to bring up a new screen. There, select Task Manager from the list of programs or options
  • Click on More options if your Task Manager window has a limited view. Under the processes tab, you should see a list of programs, their executable files, and so on. Carefully observe how much resources are in use by looking at the percentages under CPU, Memory, Disk, and Network. Take note of the programs consuming a significant amount of what is available Check the resource usage of your programs.
  • Locate the item you would like to disable. Right-click on it and select End task to stop it.
  1. Give your system some space:

Here, we are going to talk about some of the other variables you can control. Go through a couple of questions:

  • Are you playing heavy (or graphics-intensive) online games while at the same wondering why your OneDrive is uploading files so slowly?
  • Are you watching movies online or streaming videos on YouTube or similar platforms?
  • Are you playing music through Spotify or a rival app?
  • Do you use Torrent frequently for downloading files and forget to stop it from using your computer resources to seed the already downloaded file?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then you might have identified the apparent solution to the problem of how to speed up OneDrive. Stop doing whatever it is that you are doing. Besides the questions and issues listed above, do away with anything that involves the use of your internet connection for some time. Check out OneDrive upload or download speed, and see if anything has changed.

Deal with any unresolved problem on your PC. Uninstall unnecessary app or programs you do not need at all. Delete useless files. Defrag your hard disk using Auslogics Disk Defrag Pro to optimize its speed and improve the efficiency of operations performed on your drive.

 Defrag your hard drive.

  1. Stop your computer from going to sleep:

If you carefully considered the fact that the tips we outlined on improving OneDrive’s data transfer rate involve you doing as little as possible on your system, you must have figured out that leaving your system alone to let your cloud-based storage app synchronize your files is the best way to go.

Unfortunately, by default, a system running Windows 10 is set to fall asleep (literally) whenever its owner abandons it for an extended period. When this happens, your synchronization comes to a halt. Microsoft probably created this setup to reduce power consumption and extend your PC’s life.

Follow these instructions to change the settings if your computer is currently set to sleep:

  • Click on the Windows start icon. Select Settings from the list of programs or options
  • After the window opens, click on System. From the left pane, select Power and Sleep
  • In the right pane, you can change the value under Sleep to Never. Other input how much time you would like the system to wait before letting itself fall asleep. The settings are available for two scenarios: when your PC is running on battery power and when it is plugged in or connected to a power source

If you choose Never, your PC would now have enough time to synchronize the files when you are not using your computer. After OneDrive completes the heavy syncing of the data at hand, you can reverse the changes for how long it takes Windows to go to sleep.

  1. Try OneDrive on another PC:

Some users confirmed that they had been able to solve their slow speed problem associated with OneDrive quickly by transferring all the items they intend to sync to another PC and then using that computer to upload the files.

We do not know exactly why this action resulted in faster upload speeds, but we suspect it had something to do with the fact that there are different configurations or settings on the systems involved. You are probably missing a variable, which you are required to alter on your system to allow OneDrive perform optimally. A more suitable setup may be present on another PC.

Here are the instructions you need:

  • Open the File Explorer program on your system. Navigate through your system folders and copy your files to an external storage device (flash drive or drive)
  • Insert the storage device into the other PC. Paste the copied files
  • Set up OneDrive on this computer and let it update your Metadata and sync your data

You might out that this particular operation demands far less time than the upload of the files on your regular PC. All you have to do is ensure that the file folder and locations on the other PC correspond to the items and places on your primary PC. Consider this process a workaround rather than a practical solution.

  1. Execute some operations on the program involved:

First, you could restart the OneDrive app:

  • Check for the OneDrive icon around the notification area of your task bar. If it is not visible, click on the arrow for Show hidden icons located on the far left of the notification After you find the required icon, right-click on it
  • Select Exit from the list of options or actions that pop up. A dialog box should come up. Click on the Close OneDrive button
  • Click on the Windows start icon. Input OneDrive into the available text box to perform a search for it. Select the Desktop app to launch OneDrive once more

Second, you could force a refresh of the syncing process by unlinking your account with OneDrive and starting over:

  • Right-click on the OneDrive icon present in the notification area of Windows task bar. Select Settings from the list of options displayed. A new window should pop up
  • Navigate to the Account tab. There, you must click on the Unlink OneDrive button. Windows should open the desktop app now. Follow the instructions where applicable to select the files you would like to sync and set the location for the synchronization of your files

Finally, you could reset the OneDrive app itself if everything else failed to work for you:

  • Right-click on the Windows start icon to see a list of programs and options (or press and hold the windows button, then hit the letter X key). Select Command Prompt (Admin) to open a Command Prompt window with administrative privileges. You are going to need all the powers and permissions you can get to perform this operation
  • After the window opens, input the following code and hit the Enter key to execute the command: %localappdata%\Microsoft\OneDrive\onedrive.exe /reset
  • After the completion of the operation, ensure that the OneDrive icon is longer visible where you are used to seeing it (notification area of the Windows task bar). The absence of this icon confirms the success of the reset.

The icon bar should appear after a few minutes (2 minutes according to Microsoft). If you have waited long enough but still cannot see it, launch the OneDrive app yourself. Click on the Windows start icon, search for OneDrive in the text box present. Select the desktop app to restart the sync process. Check if these operations have had a positive effect on your upload speed.

  1. Fix issues with Windows updates:

Here, you must carry out two majors operations. First, you are required to find out and be sure that Windows is not downloading any update in the background. A system running Windows 10 automatically searches for upgrades. The fetching of updates from Microsoft can affect your internet connection speed in general, and OneDrive uploading items slowly is a consequence of such an event.

Second, you are going to try to update your system immediately in the hope that Microsoft knows of the issues causing your OneDrive to send files slowly to its server and has fixed them in a new update. So all you have to do now is force a direct upgrade of your PC. Here are the simple instructions you need to perform this task:

  • Open the main Settings app for your PC by pressing and holding the windows button on your keyboard, then hitting the letter I key
  • After the Window opens, click on Updates and Security. Click on the Check for updates button

Ensure that your OS is updated.

Windows is now supposed to search for and request updates. If your system currently lacks the available upgrades, then Windows would tell you just that (otherwise, you will see a message stating your computer has everything). You can start downloading the updates in the background. Install the updates once Windows has got them all on your drive. Restart your PC when prompted.

After the complete installation of the updates and the required reboot of your PC, launch OneDrive, resume syncing your files as usual and check if there is any noticeable change in the speed of the uploads or downloads.

  • Sync the files in groups:

According to reports from users who were experiencing problems with OneDrive slow uploads, the problem sometimes is a result of the application or client trying to upload all the files (marked for online storage) at once. These attempts of data transfer in a single swipe are reportedly known to cause sluggish operations.

The workaround for this problem is a relatively simple one. If you believe that the issue identified here is what is affecting you and are wondering how to speed up OneDrive, you must arrange your files in groups and try to sync them batch by batch (one after the other).

If the number of your files is on the high side, you can start with groups consisting of about 1000 files each. If this amount is still too much and does not result in a speed improvement, you should reduce the allocation of each batch to a lesser number of files, like say 100. If the number of items you intend to upload is not so many, you can reduce how much is in each group further.

After arranging the files and creating the groups, drag and drop the items into the OneDrive directory on your PC. Windows should upload all the pasted files automatically into Microsoft’s OneDrive servers.

We understand that this process is far from being an ideal solution for most people, but we have included it for those who cannot do without having their files in the cloud. If some users stated it had worked for them, what is the harm in trying? After all, the operations involved here are not dangerous acts.

  • Trick OneDrive to perform a resync of your files:

If the slow upload problem is a result of issues accumulated from operations performed on the files, then a resync of those files might be the action needed to change everything. You should have no problems carrying out this procedure – it is a simple process. Do this:

  • Press and hold the Windows button, then hit the letter E key to open the File Explorer program. Locate your OneDrive directory
  • Identify all the files that OneDrive is currently synchronizing or preparing to sync. Move all these files to an entirely different location on your PC (cut and paste)
  • Wait a few minutes. Close the OneDrive app or even terminate its process
  • Launch OneDrive once. Wait for some time, open File Explorer, and finally, return those items you moved away earlier back to the OneDrive directory. You would know this procedure proved successful if Windows resumes syncing your files again but this time with faster speeds.
  • Delete small files:

Many cloud-based services still struggle when they have to sync a ridiculous number of small files. This problem lends credence to the fact that the data transfer rate depends not on the size of the data but the number of items involved.

OneDrive is a top-rated storage platform, and Microsoft is continually improving the algorithms that guide the synchronization of all file types and the integration between the data stored on a user’s disk and their servers.

Some users stated that they experienced the slow upload problems only when they tried to sync a large number of files with some of these items less than 50Kb in size. Check the items up for sync on your system to be sure this specific scenario does not apply to you. The small items usually have these kind of extensions: .inf .pfm .pfb and .afm.

If it does, try highlighting all of those small-sized files and moving them away from the OneDrive directory to a temporary location. Now try uploading the files you left in the folder and see if this action caused positive changes.

The improvement in your upload speed might not be enough to equal your actual internet upload rate, but the increase is still substantial. If it worked for you, you should start thinking of another way of backing up those files. You can try to sync them later when you have a lot more time to wait. You can also try storing them in a different cloud-based service since they probably do not require much space.

The free space offered by many competitors might be enough to contain all of them. In the worst-case scenario, you might end up having to wait for Microsoft to get its house in order.

  • Try to upload the files through a browser:

It is not always practical to move all your data into the OneDrive folder on your PC and expect the application to sync all of them without issues. The alternative method of uploading them on the web might be better by almost every metric, especially for big files.

  • Open your web browser and input the OneDrive URL into the address bar. After the page loads, enter your details to log in if necessary
  • After getting in, navigate to the folder or directory where you would like to place your files. Minimize your browser window
  • Open the File Explorer program (press and hold the Windows button, then hit the letter E key). Navigate through the folders and locate the files you intend to upload
  • Drag and drop the files into your browser window to upload them. OneDrive uploads 3 files at a time. It puts the others in a queue and continues with them after it has finished uploading a set. If you are using a feature-rich browser like Google Chrome, you can upload an entire folder at once.

Observe the speed of data transfer in this method of uploading items to OneDrive. If it is significantly faster than what you are to see on the desktop drive, then this method suits your needs, and you would do well to continue using it.

We can only hope that our solutions have proven themselves useful to you. If by now you are still here because you exhausted all the answers we brought but are still experiencing the slow upload speed debacle associated with OneDrive, then it time you started considering moving to a different cloud storage service or an alternative means of backing up and sharing data.

Even with all the unique benefits you get from using OneDrive— deep integration with Windows 10, Office 365, relatively more space for free, and so on—the service is almost useless if you cannot get your files to its base. After all, there are many good providers of storage online (Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon Drive, and so on) and with them, you might not have to bother with this problem of slow upload speeds.

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