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Why you might be struggling with synchronising OneDrive for Business

Why you might be struggling with synchronising OneDrive for Business

Are you struggling synchronising OneDrive for BusinessAre you a busy VA or business owner who is using Office 365? You went down this route for various reasons, you love the familiar Office packages, you like that you can work both online and offline. And you really love the idea of using OneDrive for Business and having your documents stored in the cloud and on your local machine.

What is Synchronisation?

When you synchronise something, you are making sure that everything matches – remember the term Synchronise Watches? Making sure everyone has the same time showing on their watch? Well synchronising files is the same. We want to make sure that we have the exact same files stored in OneDrive for Business and on our local machine.

Setting up the Synchronisation

Start from OneDrive for Business – at the top of the screen you will see a Synchronise button – click this to start the synchronisation

Your computer will check whether you want to launch the OneDrive app – you do so say yes. This is the same on both Windows and Mac. The prompt you see is slightly different, but the concept is the same.

You are then asked to sign in to your account – this is your email address and password for your Office 365 account. If you are on Windows at this point you are shown a picture of where your files are stored. If you are on Mac, you will be asked to select which folders to synchronise.

Windows 10 Defaults

One Windows 10 the default setting is to save all your documents in the cloud. You have a local link to the files, but the storage is online. This means that you save space on your local hard drive – useful in these days of portability and small laptops! You can get to any of your files easily while you have a full internet connection. Once you have accessed a file it changes its state and becomes locally available so even when you don’t have an internet connection. You can also elect to keep all your files on your local computer.

Here is what the message you get looks like on Windows.

How do you decide?

Here is what I do. I have a large 27″ Windows 10 desktop which has a wired internet connection. On this machine I synchronise everything and store it locally. I also have a Surface Pro for when I am out and about. This only has 256GB of hard drive storage so on this machine I keep all the files online. If I am going to a client or away, and I want to make sure to have certain files locally, then I select to download fully just those folders. In any event even if I don’t download them fully, once I have opened a file, I can work on it even when offline and my changes will be synchronised when I next go online.

Change from Online to Keep on this Machine

You do this on a right click. In fact, the synchronisation wizard shows you how.

Can I move files online or keep locally easily?

Yes, simply right click on the file or folder you want to change and choose from the options- Move Online or Always keep on this device.

What if I am on a Mac?

Start from the web as above then you will be prompted to launch the OneDrive app.

You will need to sign in and then you will see the OneDrive app in the Dock. At this point you will asked for your password. Once you have done that, you are shown where the OneDrive folder will be created and given the option to change the location. Then you choose what to synchronise. This can be changed at any time so you can decide to stop synchronising a folder later on.

When you are done, you get a message saying that your OneDrive is ready for you. You will see a link to it in the Favourites in Finder and on the Menu bar of the desktop.

To change the folders, click the three dots you see like the image on the right, then choose preferences. Click on Choose Folders here under Account and then uncheck the ones you no longer want to have on your local machine.

What happens to folders I no longer Sync?

When you decide not to synchronise the folder, it will be removed from your local OneDrive folder. It is still available online and you can still save documents to it or get documents from it from within the Office applications.

If you want to find out more about how to use OneDrive for Business with the rest of Office 365, hop over and see my course – Running your VA Business with Office 365. There is lots of useful information in this course to help you get up and running We also have a range of other courses on Office 365 packages and they are being added to all the time.

Let me know in the comments if you found this useful and if you have any questions.


Why I love working with Office 365 and you should too!

Why I love working with Office 365 and you should too!

office 365

I love working with Office 365. Now you would think that as my business is as an IT Trainer helping you get more done in less time that I would say that wouldn't I? Well yes you would be right but – I genuinely do love working with Office 365 and I want to tell you why.

I am based in London in the UK and we have children living in different countries – one in New York in the USA and one in Israel. One lives around the corner too! We travel extensively. We go to Israel several times a year and to the States at least once a year.

So how can I run my business with all this time away?

Office 365 enables me to effectively live the laptop lifestyle. As a person in IT I love my gadgets and will happily try out new ones to see how they work and if they will enable me to get more done in less time. So here is my setup.


Office 365

I have a large 27" desktop in my office – when recording video tutorials and editing them, I find this the easiest way to work. (also it has a nice big screen which is easy on the eyes…)

Windows Laptop

Office 365

I have a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 which I really love. It is very lightweight and portable. It's only drawback is the keyboard as you can't actually typ with it on your lap – you need a surface to rest it on but as it is for when I deliver training and when I am away, it is perfect.

Mac Laptop

Office 365

I have a Macbook Air – yes I have a Mac as well as a Windows PC. I teach Microsoft Office on both platforms so need one of each to make sure how everything works and what the differences are.


Office 365

I have a Macbook Air – yes I have a Mac as well as a Windows PC. I teach Microsoft Office on both platforms so need one of each to make sure how everything works and what the differences are.


I have an Android phone – I have a J7 Prime – it is a dual sim phone which means that I can have both my UK and Israeli Sim cards in the phone and no longer need to travel with two handsets!


All of my devices connect to Office 365 – this means that I have Microsoft Outlook on every device I use for my email and calendar. I have Word Excel and PowerPoint, so I can get stuff done on all my devices and I also have OneDrive for Business and SharePoint which means that I have access to all my business files wherever I am.

So how does this work in practice?

Last month I travelled to the USA to visit my daughter. I have been working on the online training for tomorrow's VA for the last few months and I had some video editing to do. I make sure to save all my work to my tomorrow's VA OneDrive for business which means the folders are ready and waiting for me to get to work.

Whilst in the USA I took advantage of the jet lag! Whilst I was up very early in the morning I was able to open my editing software (Camtasia if you are asking) and get the projects I was working on from OneDrive. This meant that while away, I was able to finish editing several videos and get them uploaded to the training portal.


Here I am writing a blog post. With Office 365 I can start writing this post on my Surface pro as I am right now, and then move over to the MacBook Air downstairs if the fancy takes me. In fact, that is something that I do fairly often. I love working at the kitchen table especially in the recent hot weather with the windows open. I can start Word on the Mac and pick up where I left off upstairs in my office.


Collaborating with others is another fantastic benefit of using Office 365. I was asked to work on a new book about Excel and decided to work with another trainer on it. I created a folder in my OneDrive for Business and shared it with Anne. We are both able to add documents to the folder and open anything that is stored there. This means that as we were working on the outline for the book we could each add in our own documents and then combine them quite easily. It also means that we can each contribute to one copy once we start writing as we are each writing different chapters. I can work on my chapters and Anne can work on hers. That way we only have one major document and avoid all those versioning issues. Although with a document stored in OneDrive or SharePoint you can get back to previous versions really easily.

Out of the Office

I am never really out of the office and you could see this as a drawback. I choose to see it as something positive. I can work wherever I want, whenever I want and on which ever device I want to use at that time. When in the office in London, then my gadget of choice is the large desktop, when travelling, usually the Surface Pro or the iPad. For entertainment we mainly use the MacBook Air, unless of course I am training clients who use Macs, in which case that is the one that goes with me.

It really does not matter which device I use. So long as my documents are all stored in OneDrive or SharePoint I can get to them at any time. I can choose to synchronise my OneDrive and SharePoint folders or I can simply connect to the internet to access my work. Either way works.

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Skype for Business 

Skype for Business is the business version of Skype. It is more stable than regular Skype and you can connect to people inside and outside your organisation. I use the instant messaging feature quite a lot with another trainer who lives in the Midlands and we often speak or even video call over Skype for Business.

Office works well across all those devices

It really does not matter which device I use. So long as my documents are all stored in OneDrive or SharePoint I can get to them at any time. I can choose to synchronise my OneDrive and SharePoint folders or I can simply connect to the internet to access my work. Either way works.

All of the above are the reasons I love using Office 365 and if you adopt it I am sure you will too.

To find out more about which version you need

And how to purchase and set it all up, hop over to my course Running your VA Business with Office 365.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.

I love working with Office 365 and you should too!

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Encrypting your email? Do you? Should you? How to?

Encrypting your email? Do you? Should you? How to?

Encrypting your emailEncrypting your email? Do you? Should you? How to?

Unless you have been living in a cave for the past few months and especially the last couple of weeks, you can’t possibly have escaped the juggernaut that is GDPR.

Most business people I know from Accountants to Property Companies to Trainers and VAs are getting their act together to comply with the new rules.

Although many of the rules are a tightening up of rules that were already in place and make good business sense too.

Re-subscribe to give Consent

I don’t know about you, I have had a plethora of emails asking me to re-subscribe to this mailing list or that. You know all those newsletters that you thought you would one day get around to reading and never did? What a great opportunity to ignore them and get removed from their lists.

Only re-subscribing to the ones that you really want.

The reason for the scramble is to get your Consent – you can read what the ICO ( Information Commissioner’s Office) says about Consent here.


Then there is that thorny issue of encrypting your email. Should you just encrypt everything? Only confidential things? And then How to do it? Is it built in to Outlook or whatever email client you use?

Outlook Encryption

I can only talk about encryption in Outlook and then when you are using a business package that includes an Exchange Server Plan, like the Small Business or Business versions.

To enable Encryption, you will need:

  • Office 365 Business plan
  • Exchange included
  • Azure Information Rights Protection
  • Set up Mail Flow Rules

What if I use a Mac

You will need exactly the same set up if you are a Mac user.

What is Azure Information Rights Protection?

Azure Information Protection (sometimes referred to as AIP) is a cloud-based solution that helps an organization to classify, label, and protect its documents and emails. This can be done automatically by administrators who define rules and conditions, manually by users, or a combination where users are given recommendations which have been set up by administrators.

What do I need to do?

First you will need to have an Office 365 subscription that includes an Exchange server option. Exchange is your online post office and directs your email to your Inbox and to your recipients Inboxes. It will have been set up as part of your Office 365 setup process to receive  and send email to your business email address.

Secondly – you will need to buy the Azure Information Rights Protection Add on for Office 365 it costs about $2 or £1.50 per month.

You will need to set it up and download a client to any Windows machines you are using.

Thirdly – you will need to set up Mail Flow Rules in the Exchange online Admin Centre. Mail Flow rules tell Exchange when to encrypt and when to apply do not forward.

You can set the Mail Flow Rules to look for specific words in the subject or body of your email and apply the correct template automatically.

Mac users

For email encryption of email sent on a Mac – you need to be using your Office 365 email account and the Mail Flow rules need to have been set up. The Mail Flow rules will apply automatically in the background as soon as you create an email that has one of the trigger conditions.

You will not need to download the client to the Mac , in fact it is Windows only.

For step by step instructions of how to do all of this and set it up, go and get my course:

Encrypt your email with Office 365

Encrypt your email with Office 365 Small Business Premium


What kind of Microsoft Office do I need in my business?

What kind of Microsoft Office do I need in my business?

Microsoft OfficeWhat kind of Microsoft Office do I need in my business?

I think there is some confusion about Windows and Microsoft Office.  I come across lots of people who get confused between Windows, Microsoft Ofifce , Home, Professional etc.

The question frequently arises, what do I really need?


Windows – this is an Operating System, there is a Home Version and a Business version, and the current release is 10. (big update coming very soon)

To secure your data at rest (that is anything on your machine) you need Windows 10 Pro with Bitlocker turned on. This will encrypt your DEVICE – if you have a desktop and a laptop to encrypt them both you need Windows 10 Pro on both.

Microsoft Office

Stand Alone

You bought this from a shop or downloaded it from somewhere. It is only on your machine and not linked to anything – no access to OneDrive unless you have a personal account. It does NOT get monthly updates. It is not part of an organisation.

Microsoft Office 365 Home

There are various flavours of the Home version and it is likely where you started from.


Microsoft Office Home

Office 365 Home Sales Page from Microsoft

 Office 365 Home comes with an account and you get access to a personal OneDrive.

If you have an Outlook.comaccount (used to be Hotmail) on its own,  then you may well have access to a personal Onedrive even without a Home Subscription.

This means that it is not part of an organisation – even if the organisation has only one person.

The business tools – Microsoft Azure Information Rights Management Protection, Boookings, Mileage and more, will not work with it.

Microsoft Office 365 Business

Various subscription packages (you can opt to pay annually)

These are for use in Business are licensed for Business and give you access to a whole range of Business tools.

Microsoft Office Small Business

Office 365 for Business Sales Page

To use encryption, you will need one of the Business Packages.

I recommend Small Business Premium as the one to go for – it comes with an Exchange Account included and you will need to have your email directed via Exchange in order to make use of the Mail Flow Rules that control Encryption.

What about on a Mac?

If you are working on a Mac, then you will have switched on File Vault to encrypt the Mac itself, protecting your data at rest.

With regards to Microsoft Office the same recommendations apply – Small Business Premium – including an Exchange Account and you will need to route your email via the Exchange so that the Mail Flow Rules work.

Has this helped?

Hopefully this post has answered some of the questions around the version you need to get more done in less time. If you have any questions leave a comment below.

Office 365 lets you work from anywhere on any device at any time

Office 365 lets you work from anywhere on any device at any time

Work anywhere anytime any device

Work from Anywhere Any Device Any Time

Microsoft launched Office 365 a while back. It has been updated several times and is really taking off. We are seeing organisations move to Office 365 for various reasons.

Less support costs

Documents are stored in the cloud, meaning that there is no need for an on-premise server. This cuts down on IT Support Costs. Support is still needed, but there will be less onsite support necessary as Office 365 is cloud based.

Software as a service

Office 365 can be implemented with all the features or just some of them. You don’t have to pay for the elements you don’t want. When working as a VA, your client can set you up with an email address at her company and give you just email or email and applications. You can have access to everything or just some things – there is scope to choose what works best in each situation.

Remote Support

As Office 365 is what is known as Software as a Service (SAAS) it can be installed and manged remotely. Using an IT Support company who understands how to implement Office 365 is really important if you are going to be using it with several people on the same domain. Permissions need to be set so that it works best for everyone. As it is all online, this means it can all be supported remotely, cutting down onsite support costs.

Work on any Device

Microsoft Office now works on any device. There are versions for your desktop or laptop, for your tablet be it an iPad, Android or Windows tablet. Versions for your phone, Windows Phone, Android or iPhone and of course versions for your Mac. Truly device independent. Start working on your desktop, head out to a client meeting and carry on using your tablet or laptop. You can even edit on your phone!

Work anywhere

Work anywhere you have an internet connection and often where you do not. With the ability to synchronise your OneDrive for Business folders with your machine, you can now save your documents to a local folder and they will synchronise online in the background. Start a document at work, save it to your OneDrive for Business folder, and then pick up where you left off in a coffee shop or at home. You can work locally or in your browser. It does not matter which browser either, it works in Edge, IE11, Safari, Chrome, Firefox.

Work Anytime

Well you can work anywhere, on any device so it follows that you can also work at any time. Now you may see this as a blessing or a curse, a blessing because you are not tied to your office and the opening times of the building. Which means you can get that report finished no matter where you are or what time it is. That is also a curse as you can work all night if you want to. Great for night owls!

As we adopt a more mobile workforce and many professions now run their business from a home office or even a coffee shop, Office 365 is becoming more and more necessary – it is easy to use and collaboration with clients and colleagues is now much easier.

Security and Compliance

Office 365 has a ton of security features built in. It has its own compliance manager, so you can see what is happening and is GDPR ready.

You might also be interested in this post The Ultimate Tech System for VAs

Have you moved to Office 365? Are you thinking of moving to Office 365 – Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

17 facts about Office 365

17 facts about Office 365

17 facts about Office 36517 facts about Office 365

1. You can use it online and offline

2. Synchronise your online folder to your desktop and work on your pc

3. Work in the cloud using Office Web Apps

4. Work is always up to date

5. When you save your work to OneDrive or SharePoint, you always have access to the most up to date version of that document/spreadsheet/presentation

6. Private and Shared Areas

7. Save your documents/spreadsheets/presentations in your personal OneDrive for Business until you are ready to share them with the whole organisation – then save them to SharePoint .

8. You can share documents/spreadsheets/presentations that are stored in your OneDrive for Business folder with other members of your organisation

9. When sharing documents via OneDrive for Business you control whether the people you share with have permission to view or edit.

10. Use Outlook on the Web to get stuff done.

11. Work anywhere

12. So long as you have an internet connection you can work on documents stored on OneDrive for Business or SharePoint

13. Work on any Device
  • Desktop Computer
  • Tablet Computer
  • Surface
  • iPad
  • Mac
  • Phone – any kind of operating system
14. Reduce having lots of versions of documents flying around

15. When working on a shared document, it is always up to date and everyone has access to the latest version. No more having to hunt through lots of emails to find which version is which

16. Co-author documents with team members in other locations.

17. You can work with others on a report, spreadsheet or presentation. Everyone can work on the document both on line and offline and see the other participant’s edits.

You can find out about what tech you need to run your VA business by reading The Ultimate Tech System for VAs. I talk about which version of Office and Windows is best.

What is your favourite feature of Office 365?