Network utilization planning for the OneDrive sync app

This article is for IT admins planning to deploy the OneDrive sync app and wanting to estimate the network bandwidth users will need for syncing. If you're not an IT admin, follow the steps in this article to limit the network bandwidth used for syncing your files: Change the OneDrive sync app upload or download rate.

Estimate the network bandwidth you need in your organization

Follow these steps to estimate the bandwidth that will be used when you fully deploy the sync app.

  1. Assess the number of users and computers per user to which you'll deploy the sync app. Each installation multiplies the bandwidth used, so a user who has 3 syncing computers uses 3 times the bandwidth as a user who has a single syncing computer.

  2. Assess the available bandwidth and network conditions.

  3. Measure the network utilization of the sync app for a pilot group.

When you deploy, Control sync throughput.

Assess the available bandwidth and network conditions

You can leverage third-party speed test tools, like Wireshark or Fiddler, to understand the actual download and upload throughput that the users experience.

Packet loss, latency, and other factors can also impact OneDrive upload and download experience. For example, a high-latency network or network experiencing a lot of loss could result in a degraded OneDrive upload and download experience even on high bandwidth networks (1000 Mbps, for example). The loss and latency will likely vary based on the number of users that are on the same network and what those users are doing (like downloading or uploading large files).

The bandwidth used by the sync app is predominantly file upload and download traffic and is usually closely correlated with file size and the number of files being synced. Therefore, the bandwidth used depends on the number of files in the user's OneDrive and in SharePoint document libraries they choose to sync, multiplied by the size of files, and then by the rate of change of any file. Other sync app traffic (such as checking for file changes and checking for app updates) is minimal.

Measure the network utilization of the sync app for a pilot group

When you create a pilot group, make sure the users are representative of the different profiles of people in your organization as well as the different geographic locations. To establish a group:

  • Estimate the number of files, typical file sizes, file types, total size of each library, how frequently files are modified, and how frequently new files are added.

  • Evaluate network utilization during each sync state as described below.

  • Use the measurements from the pilot group to extrapolate the entire organization's needs and re-test to validate the estimations. Each organization is different.

Initial deployment and initial sync of team sites

When users download locations for the first time, bandwidth usage will spike. To avoid this spike, enable Learn about OneDrive Files On-Demand. This allows users to browse their files in File Explorer without downloading them.

Below you can see and contrast the patterns of network utilization in cases of classic sync and when Files On-Demand functionality is enable

OneDrive Sync App Network Load Patterns

Operational sync

After the initial sync is complete, the network usage will decrease and then level out.


Network usage varies depending on file types most frequently synced. When users change Office files, only the changes are uploaded or downloaded and not the whole file. For other types of files, the whole file is uploaded or downloaded. You should expect traffic to be higher during regular work hours when users are online and working on files.

A spike in upload traffic is expected if you deploy the Known Folder Move setting in your organization. If your organization is large and your users have a lot of files in their known folders, make sure you roll out the Group Policy objects slowly to minimize the network impact of uploading files.

Control sync throughput

If you need to control sync app traffic, we recommend using your network quality of service (QoS) policies or Windows QoS policies when possible. They provide better control over sync app traffic on your network. If you can't use these policies, you can use the network throughput policies provided by the sync app or let users choose their throughput settings. For info about the network settings you can make available to your users, see Change the OneDrive sync app upload or download rate.

To protect upload bandwidth on a relatively slow Internet connection, you can use a Windows QoS policy to:

  • Assign differentiated services code point (DSCP) values to network packets originating from the OneDrive sync app to enable appropriate handling of the traffic by your network devices.

  • Limit the maximum upload throughput rate that the OneDrive sync app can reach.

Prioritize traffic by using DSCP

To define the priority of outbound network traffic, you can configure a QoS policy with a specific differentiated services code point (DSCP) value. Network routers use the DSCP value to classify network packets and determine the appropriate queue. A higher value indicates a higher priority for the packet. The number of queues and their prioritization behavior needs to be designed as part of your organization's QoS strategy.

Create a Windows QoS policy for the OneDrive sync app

To manage the use of network bandwidth, you can configure a QoS policy with a specific throttle rate for outbound traffic. With throttling, a QoS policy will limit the outgoing network traffic to a specified rate.

  1. Open the Group Policy Management Console.

  2. Browse to the location where you want to create the new policy. For example, if all your client computers are located in an OU (Organizational Unit) named "Clients" then the new policy should be created in the "Clients" OU.

  3. Right-click the location, select Create a GPO in this domain, and then select Link it here.

  4. In the New GPO dialog, enter a name for the new Group Policy object in the Name box (for example, "OneDrive sync app") and then select OK.

  5. Right-click the policy, and then select Edit.

  6. In the Group Policy Management Editor, expand Computer Configuration, expand Policies, expand Windows Settings, right-click Policy-based QoS, and then select Create new policy.

  7. In the Policy-based QoS dialog, enter a name for the new policy in the Name box (for example, "OneDrive sync app").

  8. Select Specify DSCP Value and set the appropriate value between 0 and 63 based on your organization's QoS strategy.

  9. In the Outbound Throttle Rate box, enter a rate in KBps, and select Next.

  10. Select Only applications with this executable name and to apply the QoS policy to only the OneDrive sync app process, enter "onedrive.exe". Select Next.

  11. Make sure that both Any source IP address and Any destination IP address are selected, and then select Next. These two settings ensure that packets will be managed regardless of which computer (IP address) sent those packets and which computer (IP address) will receive those packets.

  12. In the Select the protocol this QoS policy applies to list, select TCP. Leave from any source port and to any destination selected.

  13. Select Finish.

Use OneDrive Group Policy objects

You can also use policies included with the OneDrive sync app to control network throughput. These policies are available in the OneDrive installation directory, %localappdata%\Microsoft\OneDrive\BuildNumber\adm. (Where BuildNumber is the number displayed in sync app settings on the About tab.)

For info about these policies, see:

Limit the sync app upload speed to a fixed rate

Limit the sync app download speed to a fixed rate

Limit the sync app upload rate to a percentage of throughput

See also

Network planning and performance tuning for Microsoft 365