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How can we improve the OneDrive experience on Windows?

OneDrive indexing for WIndows Search

I am not sure I am at the right place to post this, but since some Microsoft engineer said here would be a more appropriate place for my post in Microsoft Community, here it goes (don't shoot me if this is considered cross posting):

Prior to installing the Fall Creators Update on my Windows 10 machine last week, all my files stored in any of my OneDrive subfolders were indexed and fully searchable through Windows Search. For example, entering ‘content:management‘ in the upper right search box would return all the documents (PDF, Word, etc.) that contained the word ‘management’.

Right after the installation of the Fall Creators Update, none of my files were found when using Windows Search. Either the index was deleted or, to paraphrase Microsoft support people, the option was removed ‘by design’.

However, as I continued to use my machine, I would try to search occasionally to see if perhaps the indexed had been rebuilt. Windows Search would slowly return more and more results as the days went by. I thought the index could not be rebuilt so slowly, one file at a time over the span of several days. At this pace, it would take months to index my 50 GB of files in my OneDrive folder! Today, I discovered as I open files from my OneDrive folders, they are indexed on the fly and thus made searchable by Windows Search.

Is this the new way OneDrive files are supposed to be indexed? Who thought one would only be interested in searching files he or she had previously opened, disregarding the others? While I do understand that the indexing engine cannot index a file not kept on the device (ie. on demand files), is there a way to force the indexing engine to ‘pick up’ all the files that are always kept on the device without the need to open them one by one?

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  • Jørn commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    This is a bug which has been introduced, and should be fixed ASAP! To call this a feature is both weird and arrogant. It's insane that the only option currently is to switch to a different cloud service (google or dropbox) to have files that are backed up to a cloud indexed..... This is just weird.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I had been wondering why my searches were taking so long, but hadn't the time to dig into it. This was not the answer I was hoping to find. Microsoft, really? You can't make indexing available? So, i can have a list of all the files that are in the cloud, but you can't find a way to index that? This just seem so backwards. Hundreds of gigs of data, and we have to twiddle thumbs on every search? This is such a basic need for every user it seems completely illogical to not provide it. Dropbox, Google Drive, Asus WebStorage, these can all be indexed, how can your own cloud service not be? Please correct this.

  • Nikola commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Let's make this straight. Because of this I can't keep my music collection available on all devices AND have it searchable even though it is already downloaded (not on demand, always kept on device!) simply because index refuses to find onedrive folder in folder view / browse? By design?

    I can on google drive.... Because it is not soo integrated (literally onedrive's strongest selling point)......

  • Nikola commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    "indexing engine cannot index a file not kept on the device (ie. on demand files)"
    Why not? It is just a matter of indexing the onedrive folder and then downloading and keeping the latest version of index. Would be too expensive for you Microsoft? So charge it under business class... Again I nominate Microsoft for the most jerk company.

  • Scott Frappier commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I was shocked that this was not an option. On my PC, OneDrive is a folder that I can access with all of my other applications, but the indexing services doesn't allow me to index that location. I had to backdoor it by adding my OneDrive folder to Documents (include in documents) and then disable the file stubs for offline files. The quality of Windows seems to be degrading with each release...

  • Ian Buckley commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    What may customers need is an integrated search tool across desktop / onedrive and sharepoint... irrespective of where the files are local.... The indexes already exist on the cloud so why not make them accessible in the indexing options in windows 10? I am hoping for this feature to be fully integrated Windows and Virtual desktop on Azure!

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I don't if it has got better or worse. Now documents in my one drive ARE found, in the cloud. So the document spreadsheet which one drive backs up for, opens in a Web browser. One Note, Opens in a web browser. It's on the hard disk but can I find it if I'm not connected ? Of course not because the search goes up to the cloud.

    It doesn't seem a lot to ask that if I have an XLSx file under my home directory it gets indexed and opened in excel … even if it is in the one drive folder.

  • kaveh commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Searching PDF contents in a onedrive folder that is shared among multiple users/computers/colleagues is super duper crazy awesome useful.Saves me tons of time looking for a reference that I saved once upon a time.

    this lack of feature/bug/or wtv reason why they broke this function is a huge deal breaker.

    Evernote is looking very attractive now to store PDFs.

    I will look into buying a drobo and setting up my own cloud storage facility. at 500$ for the device that will work for a "lifetime", it beats microsoft's inability to carry out this function that is costing me 100$ per year plus the cost of my time looking into PDFs one by one.

    functionality beats price - hands down

    get your sh|t together microsoft!!

  • Doug commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate



  • Alex Marti commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Thanks to you all, I now finally understand why I can't find my study files' content by searching on my onedrive folder. @Microsoft, with the vast amount of data nowadays even on private systems it's paramount that data can be found quick and easily (somehow this reminds me of the missing find folders in outlook).

  • Rich Duggan commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    We have discovered a different, but related, problem related to search and Files on Demand and are wondering how widespread it is. We engaged a multi-day support incident with Microsoft without a resolution. All they did was direct us to UserVoice. Very frustrating!

    We have an Office 365 for Education tenant and have been migrating users from our file servers to OneDrive with Files On Demand. Starting in the last week or so we are finding files and folders being downloaded even though our OneDrive default is set to "Save space and download files as you use them" via group policy. If we right-click the folder and select "Free up space" the files return to placeholders temporarily, then start downloading again with SearchProtocolHost.exe listed under the file being downloaded in the OneDrive status box. This is happening both with folders/files in users' individual storage and in shared storage in Office 365 groups. Some of our groups have very large amounts of data that exceed the capacity of their local hard drives, which is why we waited for Files on Demand before we started this migration. We can't continue until this is solved. We are running Windows 10 Version 10.0.17134.228 and OneDrive 18.131.0701.0007. We have discovered that disabling and stopping the Windows Search service stops the download problem, but this is not an acceptable solution.

    The agent I was working with has acknowledged that she was able to reproduce the problem in her test environment, but she was unable to connect us with a bug ID or other formal acknowledgement of the issue. I have no confidence that the Windows team has any knowledge of this problem and this is a serious flaw in the OneDrive/Windows relationship which has the potential to cause widespread damage. This issue should be escalated until we know the plan for resolution and a KB article, or a hotfix, is issued.

  • Andrew commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    This is still an issue at version 1803. No options to add OneDrive to indexing locations.

  • Amit Bansal commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Search is seriously a headache. It simply wont show results of documents that I know are there in various folder. Further, searching documents from onedrive seems to be another special **** altogether. Note that these are documents that are on my local machine, but search still wont find them. I'm not even expecting search to find stuff that's on the cloud and not synced, just the ones that are already there. Such a frustrating experience.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I absolutely HATE not being able to search my OneDrive Business folder! I HATE it! It is costing me time and money! I have a full sync copy of OneDrive on my computer, and I do NOT have Files On-Demand turned on. The files reside on my computer, and I cannot search them.

    Is it true that Microsoft did this on purpose? I have 59,452 files in 3,262 folders. What am I supposed to do now??

  • Rob Nicholson commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    After posting that, I've discovered there are still problems with search and on-demand. When I search for LAPTOP001 in this folder, it finds them:

    As shown here:

    But if I then go up a folder to the root of my OneDrive, it finds one other file but not the above. The files found above are in "Helios Scripts":

    But searching LAPTOP001 doesn't find them:

    So basically Windows search can be trusted with on-demand :-( About to try PowerShell - how retro!

  • Rob Nicholson commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I've got the latest version of OneDrive and April update for Windows 10 and this is partially fixed. I came on here to post a uservoice saying "Windows 10 search doesn't work with on-demand" because I was trying to find a batch of recently downloaded files with LAPTOP001 in the title. Search didn't find any at first. I then check "Always on this device" for one file and search found that one but not the others. An obvious problem with on-demand.

    However, I started getting some screenshots together for here but by the time I'd grabbed them and prepared my response, search had started working.

    So it looks like this has partially been fixed. Of course, it can't search the contents of the files but most of the time all we want is the file name.

    So partially fixed??

    PS. My laptop has just got a very recent version of OneDrive (with Office 365) that has the new "Autosave" or known folders new fix. That's caused a lot of debate on the blog.

  • Salem Korayem commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I understand that indexing needs file content to be downloaded first which onedrive doesnt do now unless you disable it or download a specific file.

    What's beautiful is OneDrive web interface search actually indexes ALL your files with its content, in the CLOUD

    wouldnt it be beautiful to have Windows Search pass my query over to the web through APIs to search through my indexed files?

    this will also save precious local storage which is used by search index

  • Matt commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I have two computers that sync to my OneDrive. On one I use files-on-demand, the other I don't. They might be different builds; one seems to be on the business cycle, the other on the consumer cycle. The business one is the one that uses files-on-demand and it has many problems with both search indexing and syncing to OneDrive. Indexing gets stuck and OneDrive is always processing changes. I have O365 syncing turned off. It seems like O365 files cause a lot of problems. They constantly show up as pending sync (on-demand). I just don't think this thing really works reliably yet (sigh).

  • Myles commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    For those using OneDrive for Business/SharePoint Online and needing fast indexed searches you could try Zee Drive. Zee Drive maps network drives to OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online and provides a fast indexed search feature directly from the File Explorer context menu.

    You can find our more here

    Disclosure: I work for the company that develops Zee Drive.


  • Travis B commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    This is absolutely ridiculous. Once again, Microsoft had an opportunity to take things two steps forward and instead they chose to take a step back.

    Why would I NOT want to search my files, just because I only have a placeholder for those files on my local drive, with the content downloading on demand? Even worse, when I DO have those files fully stored on my machine, Windows' indexer still won't even consider them - every search results in nothing found, and I can't even point the indexer to my OneDrive folder by browsing to it.

    The only way to search my files is by going to OneDrive online. However, that searches EVERYTHING (which is horribly unuseful). I know exactly the folder which has the course and lesson subfolders containing the few hundred files with a few thousand pages I need to search through. I don't want the thousands of other documents in my cloud storage that also contain "tech".

    Here's how MS could have done things right from the very beginning. OneDrive online ALREADY has those files indexed, it just needs to sync that index onto any local machine where I've set the desktop app to "sync" my files. The local machine never needs to index those files/folders, because the cloud servers are already doing it, all the time. And even if they want to farm the indexing load out to my local machine as it uploads files for the first time, I don't care. As a programmer, I'm just so sick of mediocre design missing the obvious right thing to do.

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