File syncing services can affect user perception of Office 365 performance

cake6Cloud based file syncing services are great for improving local editing experience. Office 365 and SharePoint Online use SkyDrive Pro desktop software to sync files between your computer and a document libraries in SharePoint or SkyDrive pro. But you might also be using software such as Dropbox to share files with your workgroup and with others. They are also useful for collaborating with others, working off the same set of files and syncing them to others in your project or workgroup.

However there are some considerations you need to make, especially in respect of internet bandwidth and data usage.  This in turn can affect the users experience of Office 365, affecting Outlook connectivity to Exchange Online, opening files from SharePoint Online or quality of an online meeting with Lync Online.

Is your organization using cloud based file syncing to share many large files, graphics and video clips? How many users are on the same network and connected to the same file repository? There can be a compounding effect on your internet connectivity when many people are using cloud based file syncing from the same network location.  Let’s look an example.

  • One workgroup with 10 people, all work in the same network location.
  • All members of the workgroup connect to the same cloud based file repository.  It could be a library in SharePoint Online or a DropBox account.
  • The file repository is used to share and sync graphics, large documents and some short video recordings for publishing online.

One of the workgroup members has received a CD in the mail with a collection of images from their graphic designer. The images will be altered by some members of the workgroup and later will be uploaded to the company’s website.

The images are copied from the CD to the file syncing folder for SharePoint/DropBox/other.  There are 300MB of images, but the user copying them doesn’t experience any performance issues with the file syncing application because they are stored locally.
However, they notice that Outlook begins to flash a connectivity warning. Another member from the workgroup mentions that they are having trouble trying to send email.
Now all users who are connected to the same cloud based file repository begin to receive a copy of the 300MB of images.  Outlook performance and connectivity warnings continue to display, even on computers that aren’t syncing files.

If something doesn’t work as it should, people tend to blame what’s directly in front of them. They can be quick to blame Outlook or Office 365, without considering other possible causes. In the example above, the way file syncing was being used was the cause of poor internet connectivity. It was affecting web browsing and online meetings, among other internet services.

Give consideration to your network when using Office 365 alongside file syncing.

  • Form a realistic, enforceable policy about who can use file syncing.
  • Your policy should outline what files can be synced, file sizes and how many people on the same network can be connected to the file repository.
  • If there are many people on the same network using a file repository with large files or many file changes, consider locating the repository on a file share in the network. Use other methods to sync and share content with remote and external users.
  • Investigate a Hybrid SharePoint solution, connecting an on-premises SharePoint server to SharePoint Online. Or use other third party tools to sync the files from a local network repository to SharePoint Online.

So if Outlook begins to flash connectivity warnings, check what is occurring on your network first. Start investigating from you computer and then the activity of others around you. Once you and your IT support staff are satisfied that there is nothing else on the local network affecting internet connection performance, check your Office 365 admin portal for service health alerts. Then contact Office 365 support.

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