Answering some OneDrive for Business questions

I saw these questions about OneDrive for Business in a forum recently with the complaint that the said information could not be located. So I thought I’d answer them here for everyone.

1. Does OneDrive provide any file locking at all? I.e., if two people open the same file at the same time, does it manage locking to prevent both updating the same file with conflicting updates, or does is simply provide collision notification later?

OneDrive for Business supports document co-authoring. This means that a document can be opened and worked on by two people simultaneously. Here is a scenario:

Both using Office Online


So what I am going to do is directly share a file from the admin user’s OneDrive for Business with another Office 365 user, Richard Dawson in the same tenant.


In the top right of the site I get a message letting me know the document is shared.


The other user (Richard Dawson) receives an email telling him about the shared file and providing a link.


Selecting that link takes him straight to the document where he can now elect to edit it in Office Online or Office on the desktop.


In this case he chooses to edit it with Word Online.

With Richard now editing the file that I (Robert Crane) shared. I go into that same file and start editing it also in Office Online.


What Richard now sees when he is editing the file is that there is another author and the location of those authors edits are shown by a cursor as you see above, which when highlighted shows that authors name.


So now, Richard knows Robert is editing the document and can see that in the top right of the page as shown above.

Thus, when the shared OneDrive for Business document is opened in Office Online it is opened in co-authoring mode to allow multiple people to make changes while showing them what other editors are doing.

One using Office Online, one using Office on desktop

Let’s now say that Robert opens the document in Word to do more advanced editing.


Robert now gets the message and information about additional authors in the lower left of Word as shown above.


What Richard now see in his Office Online is that Robert is editing the document but doing so ‘offline’ (i.e. not in a browser).

This means that neither party can now see real time edits since they are no longer in a browser, however they can continue to edit the document together.


If Robert now starts editing the document using Word from the desktop Richard sees a ‘paragraph lock’ symbol, as shown above, indicating that someone is working on this paragraph offline. Richard is unable to edit this paragraph while that is taking place.


Now when Robert is ready he saves the document. You’ll notice that the save in the top left is actually a ‘refresh’ button. What this does is update the document in OneDrive for Business with any changes Robert made while updating the local document with changes other authors may have made elsewhere. Doing, so means that both the local copy and the current one in OneDrive for Business are up to date with everyone’s changes.


In a matter of moments the version of the document Richard is editing using Office Online is updated on the fly with the changes Robert made on desktop and the paragraph he is working on is ‘unlocked’.

Now what happens if Richard also edits the document using Word?


Richard now has the same ‘offline’ experience editing the document that Robert did. He can see other authors as shown above. he can continue to update the document at the same time as others. When he works on a part of the document that paragraph is locked for other editors until he completes his work and saves and ‘refreshes’ the document in OneDrive for Business as before.

So there you have it. In a nutshell multiple people can edit Office documents in OneDrive for Business whether via Office Online or via Office on the desktop.

Office Online allows real time viewing of edits. Office on the desktop locks paragraphs during editing until updated.

What I’ll look at in the next post is how all this works with the OneDrive for Business desktop sync client.

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