Microsoft Suddenly Drops OneDrive Support for Non-NTFS Disks

Posted on July 6, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in OneDrive, Windows 10 with 94 Comments

Microsoft Suddenly Drops OneDrive Support for Non-NTFS Disks

Microsoft suddenly disabled OneDrive support for non-NTFS disks this week, wreaking havoc for users with FAT32-based removable drives. But here’s the kicker: This should have never worked.

“Microsoft OneDrive wants to ensure users have the best possible sync experience on Windows, which is why OneDrive maintains the industry standard of support for NTFS,” a Microsoft statement explains. “Microsoft discovered a warning message that should have existed was missing when a user attempted to store their OneDrive folder on a non-NTFS filesystem—which was immediately remedied. Nothing has changed in terms of official support and all OneDrive folders will continue to need to be located on a drive with the NTFS filesystem.”

What’s not clear, of course, is when this support was supposed to have ended. And that users have been utilizing FAT32-based microSD cards and other removable storage with OneDrive for years. The problem impacts drives formatted with exFAT and ReFS as well, Neowin reports.

The issue is that Microsoft just suddenly pulled the switch without warning anyone. And for those who had been using this functionality, its sudden disappearance—the error message above is seen after a reboot—is most unwelcome.


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Comments (95)

95 responses to “Microsoft Suddenly Drops OneDrive Support for Non-NTFS Disks”

  1. Pbike908

    I see this as a potential issue for Mac folks more than Windows folks...

  2. Delmont

    Oh please... enough with the drama. Who is using SD Cards and USB thumb drives as critical mission anything? Even for a camera use... it's July 2017. You want FAT, go back to WinXP.

  3. rh24

    Obligatory Office Space reference.... They just *fixed the glitch*...

  4. ErichK

    I don't think this is going to affect me personally, but if it did I think I'd be pretty PO'ed.

  5. navarac

    I went to Dropbox 2 years ago and cannot say I'm interested in OneDrive anymore. I'm getting to have no confidence in Microsoft supporting anything that is not "of the moment".

  6. jimchamplin

    Wait wait... If it was "never supposed to work" but had worked perfectly the whole time...


  7. matsan

    Ahhh - the joy of having updates rammed down your throat when you at least expect them.

  8. Spineless

    Anyone who is using a removable device for their OneDrive sync location, and not using NTFS and BitLocker is making a huge mistake. I am personally glad that MS made this change, because it is a pragmatic change. Yes, they could have provided better messaging, but if nothing else, it will get people to think more about their data security.

    • SvenJ

      In reply to Spineless: You may believe that, but I have a personal device with 64G of internal RAM. Some have devices with 32GB internal. I have a 128G SD card that stays in it permanently and it is by default, and recommendation, formatted exFAT. I could give a crap about BitLocker. I have OneDrive redirected to that 128G drive because that makes sense in this situation, and it has been fine for some time. A long time. All of a sudden, with no warning whatsoever, and no grace period, that is no longer OK. exFat is a MS format. MS will not format a 256G drive in anything other than exFAT. MS has just told us, if you have a mobile device with limited internal RAM, you need to be very careful about OneDrive syncing on your internal drive, or limit yourself to 128G on external storage.
      MS needs to allow OneDrive on exFAT, and support BitLocker on exFAT, for thse that need it. or just surrender mobile, including Surface.

  9. CompUser

    I've always said, anyone who stores their data on someone else's server, and gives control of that data to the company running those servers, is an idiot. Thanks, Microsoft for proving me right.

    • SvenJ

      In reply to CompUser: Nothing happened to my data. MS doesn't control it. The way I interact with it has changed. Nothing lost, nothing in danger of being lost. I still have a number of ways to interact with it. The issue is only that they made a significant change in where/how my local sync'd copy is handled. They did it with no warning, and it has some ramifications for those of us who have a need for larger external storage.

      I have a largish SD card in a couple of devices, not for OneDrive specifically, but for other off-line file requirements. That makes it a logical place to put my OneDrive sync folder. I am now limited by NTFS for the size of that external drive. With the Files-on-Demand that is coming (and I have on a couple of insider devices) it does allow me to re-evaluate my sync requirements, and potentially just 'sync' less and keep OneDrive on the OS/internal storage. That lets me use exFAT on the SD as recommended/required.

      So, this is exceptionally annoying, in the short term, but not a showstopper, for me anyway.

    • TechnologyTemperance

      In reply to CompUser:

      You forgot to add a disclaimer in your post that you are a large shareholder in Reynolds group holdings

    • Bill Russell

      In reply to CompUser:

      As with the futile argument of what type of device is 'best', it sort of depends on the type of data and how it is used. Business? Personal? For my irreplaceable data - family photos/videos and other data of my creation, I would have lost all of this years ago if I didn't keep stuff backed up on - in my case Google drive/photos. I tried my own NAS at home for a while, but unless you are willing to devote a significant amount of time, expense and effort - and even then for most people inevitablly lose control of such a server over the course of a few years as I did. A top reputable company's cloud storage service has a far, far better chance of keeping this stuff safe for decades than I will. It may be more arguable for a business to have on premises storage for business data or not, with paid IT personnel in charge of it.

  10. JeremyJukes

    This file support change also makes system image backup fail in preview releases since the EFI partition is a FAT32 partition. Manufacturers created this partition when manufacturing the PC and it is used to boot the OS. When you convert this partition to NTFS, the backup works but boot fails. Many millions of PCs will not be able to be booted when this release of the OS goes into production in the fall.

    • SvenJ

      In reply to JeremyJukes: Not sure what that has to do with the OneDrive situation. Maybe I'm missing something. The drive you use to sync OneDrive must be NTFS. Unless you are wanting to put OneDrive on that OEM partition, which you shouldn't, leave it alone. Your whole internal drive doesn't need to be NTFS, so the various other partitions can just stay as they are. I don't have issues with large internal drives, SSD, or traditional, making them NTFS. It's just SD cards that are an issue, and only big ones, >128G. For small portable tablets and 2-1s, that SD card winds up being your secondary drive, and this limits the size you can use, if you are going to put OneDrive on it.

  11. gdt841

    I have an HP two-in-one with just 32GB of storage (plus a 1TB drive in the keyboard).

    I added a 64GB SD card and have always had problems with it; it was formatted as Ex-FAT and used exclusively for OneDrive.

    As it was consistently unreliable, I contacted HP and they replaced the motherboard under warranty. The SD card was subsequently no better, but by then the warranty had run out.

    I have reformatted it as NTFS and re-synced the OneDrive contents. It is a bit early to be sure, but it appears to be reliable now, and hasn't given any errors at all.

    If even HP didn't know about this farce, what hope have the rest of us got?

  12. jwpear

    I don't understand the non-support for ReFS. Makes me question using ReFS at all.

    • JudaZuk

      In reply to jwpear:

      You shouldn't be using ReFS unless on a server, and if it is on a server you should not use OneDrive as a backup solution

      ReFS is intended for Storage Spaces , and even if it has some advantages it also have several limitations, for instance you can not boot Windows of a ReFS formatted drive, and you can not install Windows Store apps to it either, it is not intended to be used on a standard Desktop computer

      ReFS is not a replacement for NTFS and it was never intended to be either.

      • jwpear

        In reply to JudaZuk:

        Using it exactly as you describe--on servers. Although, I could see using it on desktop to create a JBOD storage. Agree that it probably shouldn't be used with OneDrive. Without MS elaborating, it isn't clear if the non-support is due to limitations of ReFS or if this is a sign ReFS will be sunset. I half expected ReFS to eventually replace NTFS.

  13. SvenJ

    @narg, not necessarily that simple. OneDrive isn't the only thing on the SD. Can't just reformat and redownload, have to move those other files. Can't put them on the boot drive, too small. That's why there's is an SD. Need to come up with a large thumb drive and an OTG dongle, or spend hours and capped data a$$et$ to upload to a cloud $ervice. Now I can reformat. Oops, no. It's a 256G SD and Windows won't reformat that as NTFS, only exFat. Need to find a 128G card. Do I have one laying around, or do I needed to buy one? Amazon and two days, or Best Buy today at twice the price (for something I shouldn't need to buy.) OK. 128G card is in and formatted. Copy files back from thumb drive or cloud $ervice (eating more data allotment) taking more time. Oh wait, not enough room. Card is half as big now. Not really enough room to put OneDrive back.

    So you spend a day, spend money, and don't even wind up with a capability that worked fine the last time you booted up. No warning, no other choice, no problem? No concept of any other situation but your own.

  14. jlmerrill

    Does this mean I cannot install onedrive on a mac?

    • SvenJ

      In reply to jlmerrill: Right now you can. Haven't heard that any current Mac users have an issue. Not sure how this will work with future OneDrive client releases for the MAC, or the impending switch to AFS with the next major MACOS release.

  15. Narg

    Why does this matter??? The data is safe in the cloud, just reformat and download again. NO PROBLEM!!! Gees.

  16. edboyhan

    This one caught me. After a reboot -- took me a few retries before I realized they were serious :-( . Anyhow, I was using an external USB SSD drive for OneDrive. I reformatted it, and reinitialized OneDrive, and all is well. Most annoying thing (beyond the out of the blue nature of this) was the repeated requirement to relogin to my MSA account with the whole two factor authorization messages to my phone.

    I wish MS had more of Amazon's customer focused ethos ( also wish these two Seattle area behemoths would cooperate more).

  17. LeFrenchFab

    Next stop, Mac file systems (HFS & APFS)?

  18. Mark from CO


    This is how to make satisfied customers and create positive word of mouth. Microsoft is so good at it.

    Mark from CO

  19. djncanada

    Quick question, can OneDrive files provided external drive is formatted to NTFS, work?

    As vendors sell more devices like Yoga Book that has 64GB (24 GB usable), some may need ability to have OneDrive files local

  20. SvenJ

    I really hate the inability to comment on "Premium Comments." when the segregation started, I could at least click reply on a Premium Comment and it would throw me over to 'coach' to post.

    In any case,

    @Delmont, This affects more than FAT, it affects exFAT and apparently Apple's new file system as well. NTFS isn't actually a modern file system either, and isn't supported on some modern storage media. MS doesn't support NTFS on some modern storage media.

    @cruegea7, If in fact this affects APFS, that is significant. My understanding is that file system will be transitioned to all MACs. This would mean OneDrive is not supported on Apple without a secondary drive, formatted NTFS. Thanks MS for helping out DropBox and iDrive.

  21. creugea7

    It also currently does not support APFS. The new file system in MacOS High Sierra. It would be nice if they could just make it file system independent.

  22. SvenJ

    Fat32 my ass. This affects exFat, the MS proprietary, and SD card committee recommended format for SD cards over 32GB. If you stick an SD card in a Surface/Windows Phone and say format, it defaults to exFat, a format now all of a sudden not supported by OneDrive. I have a couple of devices that I've jumped through hoops to move the files, redirect OneDrive, reformat and move back and redirect. These were 128G SDs. I haven't found a Windows device that will format a 256G SD in anything other than exFAT yet.

    We have a thread going on Answers, MSs preferred support format (user supported) on this. It is freakin'' ridiculous that exFat isn't supported. It's their format, specifically indicated for high capacity SD cards, which are likely to be installed in the anemically provisioned Windows mobile/portable devices. Guess OneDrive is only intended for desktop machines with Terabyte drives formatted NTFS, a file system that dates back to NT.

    I'd post a link to the Answers thread, but it seems to be inaccessible at the moment, or maybe forever, if you are a conspiracy theorist.

    • quick_razor360

      In reply to SvenJ:
      So using DISKPART in an elevated command prompt wont let you format a 256GB SD card to NTFS?

      • SvenJ

        In reply to quick_razor360: Didn't for me. I imagine there may be SD with different controllers in them that might, but they are still expensive enough I haven't bought a dozen to experiment ;) I even tried to create a 128G partition on the 256 card and format it to NTFS, just for fun, and that wouldn't work. Just failed. Trying to format the card NTFS using various methods even got the card to the point Windows wouldn't recognize the card anymore. The formatting process just quit, and you couldn't cancel, just pull the card. The system then said there was nothing in the drive, disk manager saw no available space. At that point I stuck the 256G card in a $39 Windows GoPhone (Lumia 635). It said, I see an SD but don't understand the file system, would you like to format it. I said yes and in seconds had a working SD, formatted exFat. You don't get a choice in the phone. Surface and Dell desktop were happy with the card again, but of course, OneDrive wasn't.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to SvenJ:

      . . . Guess OneDrive is only intended for desktop machines with Terabyte drives formatted NTFS . . .

      Not cynical enough. OneDrive could be intended to get mobile device users to buy higher capacity SSDs formatted NTFS.

      Thing is NTFS stores more file-level metadata than any FAT-based file system. NTFS has ownership, create/access/modify times, file permissions beyond FAT file attributes, ACLs, and more. If files with such metadata were stored on OneDrive, could they and their metadata be synced to non-NTFS drives?

      From this perspective, it doesn't matter than exFAT is a MSFT proprietary file system. After all, MSFT is also throwing ReFS users under the bus too.

      This is MSFT being MSFT: Our customers are our OEMs; their customers are irrelevant to MSFT.

    • Lauren Glenn

      In reply to SvenJ:

      Doesn't this have to do with the tagging that NTFS does to files? I know that if you kept getting a message regarding ownership or something like that on files (and this affected iTunes when syncing music manually to an iPad/iPod), the only way to get rid of that error was to move the files to exFAT or FAT32 drive to remove those tags and then back again. Those tags always were on the files that were placed in a OneDrive or Dropbox folder on my computer.

      Also keep in mind that NTFS has had some revisions over the years. Didn't it also take Apple a long time to get rid of HPFS?

  23. wunderbar

    this is irresponsible, shortsighted, etc.

    If it was never supposed to work, I get why they'd want to fix that, but to just pull the pin with zero warning to users is unacceptable.

    This company......

  24. Waethorn

    I bet this has something to do with Windows Azure. Are they moving OneDrive to Azure? Azure Backup only supports backing up files that are stored on an NTFS volume, and that really sucks if you're trying to use Azure Backup to back up a Storage Space formatted with ReFS, which is what Microsoft's recommendation is to use when setting up a file server.

  25. SDreamer

    This is annoying for me because I had it all synced up on an exfat drive on bootcamp so I wouldn't have to duplicate my OneDrive.... if I didn't have subscription, I would just go somewhere else.

  26. suavegav

    "users have been utilizing FAT32-based microSD cards"


    That's just nuts

    • wunderbar

      In reply to suavegav:

      every MicroSDHC card that's 32GB or lower is formatted fat32 out of the box. You have to actively change it to something else. anything 64 and up is formatted exFAT out of the box, same thing, have to actively change it.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to wunderbar:

        . . . have to actively change it.

        Granted, but how difficult and time consuming is it to fire up File Explorer, right click on the drive icon for a new and just inserted MicroSD or USB drive, choose format, and choose QuickFormat as NTFS? Took me longer to write this.

        As long as MicroSD cards could be used in cameras or camcorders the firmware for which only understands FAT, seems reasonable to me that they always come preformatted as FAT32 or exFAT.

        • SvenJ

          In reply to hrlngrv: Not a problem to change it at the beginning, if you know you should and ignore the SD Card Consortium recommendation to format your 128G card exFat (a MS format). Actually that is for anything over 32GB. Go buy a 256GB SD and try to format it NTFS. Windows won't do it. So, you have folks that have had OneDrive syncing on a 128G/256G SD cards forever that wake up and find, nope we aren't doing that anymore, deal with it. You don't have an option other than to re-setup your OneDrive. If it's 256 BTW, you are screwed, they don't support it.

        • wunderbar

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          I think the average person doesn't do that though. Your reply is firmly in the "all you have to do is...." camp. And if you have to tell someone "all you have to do is" it's probably not something they can do. I know If I tried to tell say, my mother, to do that she'd look at me like I have 2 heads.

          For the average person reading this website, sure it's trivial. But for the average person, it isn't. Can't forget the wider audience.

          • hrlngrv

            In reply to wunderbar:

            The question is how many camera/camcorder users use MicroSD cards? If substantial numbers, say, within an order of magnitude of PC users using those cards, and if camera/camcorder users couldn't reformat MicroSD cards and those devices' firmware could only handle FAT32 or exFAT, then from my perspective it's obvious and simple common sense that MicroSD cards would come formatted as FAT32 or exFAT. MicroSD card manufacturers would be accommodating their customers who just couldn't use their products if initially formatted as NTFS.

            Perhaps it'd be good for all camera and camcorder manufacturers to support NTFS if MSFT didn't charge any royalties for doing so, and over time those devices would mostly be able to handle NTFS. But today, I figure the vast majority of cameras and camcorders can't handle NTFS, so MicroSD card makers would be insane to preformat them as NTFS.

            I believe it's you who's failing to understand just how wide the customer base for MicroSD cards may be.

  27. BigM72

    In the consumer space, Microsoft just can't be trusted. It seems to be in their DNA to burn users in so many ways, Windows Phone, placeholders, My People, the list goes on.

  28. hrlngrv

    Lemme guess: OneDrive also stores NTFS file metadata, permissions, maybe ACLs. If so, fine. That'd mean files uploaded from local NTFS drives to OneDrive couldn't subsequently be synced with drives which couldn't accommodate the metadata. However, files uploaded from local FAT32 or exFAT drives would have only FAT file attribute bits as metadata. It should be possible to sync them with any drive using a file system Windows understands.

    Looks like there were 2 ways MSFT could go when they discovered this, and true to form MSFT opted for the more user-hostile route.

    Has MSFT ever been a customer-focused company? Or is the extent of their customer focus summarized by BOHICA?

  29. hrlngrv

    Picky: it's possible to format removable drives as NTFS. One of the first things I do with new MicroSDs and USB drives. Heck, possible to put multiple partitions on them, say 1GB FAT32 and the rest NTFS.

    • wunderbar

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      Sure it's possible, but not for the average user, and the point remains you shouldn't have to.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to wunderbar:

        Debatable for MicroSD cards, though perhaps not for USB drives.

        If a substantial number of MicroSD cards are used in cameras and camcorders, those devices have no means of formatting those cards, and those machine's firmware only handled FAT32 and exFAT, then FAT32 and exFAT are most usable formats since it's relatively easy for PC users to reformat those cards as NTFS.

        • unfalln

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          While I can see some perverse benefit to hotswapping a MicroSD card from a camera and having it upload to OneDrive when returned to the PC, I doubt that's really a good way of doing it.

          • hrlngrv

            In reply to unfalln:

            Geez this is apparently a difficult concept!

            Not hot swapping. The point is PREFORMATTING, that is, how the MicroSD card's MANUFACTURER formats these cards in their own factories. If these cards could be used in devices other than PCs, and most of those other devices only support FAT32 and exFAT, and PCs also support those file systems along with others, then wouldn't FAT32 or exFAT be the most usable format OUT OF THE BOX?

  30. Darmok N Jalad

    I ran into this problem on Windows 8.1 RT on my Surface 2, where I used my SD card for document storage and OneDrive (with placeholders!). NTFS was required then, so who knows when that switch accidentally got flipped. Problem then though was Windows failing to mount the card on resume, resulting in a file system mess until I rebooted.

  31. Winner

    Oh Microsoft, you try so hard to be progressive and customer-centric but your actual DNA keeps you acting like this.

    From a Slashdot commenter "Usually they declare a bug to be a feature so they don't have to fix it. This time they called a feature a bug & fixed it right away. Round and round we go!"

  32. waverunning.geek

    First there was the Unlimited Storage fiasco which was basically a bait-n-switch scam to sell more Office 365 subscriptions. 

     Then when my PC started up today, I was greeted with this BS.

    Like others here, I utilize Storage Spaces and REFS because I care about my data integrity. Why the hell would Microsoft stop supporting their next generation file system, which has much better data integrity than the ancient NTFS, for a product whose main function is data backup?

     And why would they do this without warning anyone?

    I called Microsoft today to cancel all of my subscriptions. Google Drive will be offering a similar sync service soon. $10/mo for unlimited storage if you have your own domain. Say what you want about Google, but at least they do not pull this BS on paying customers.

    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to waverunning.geek:

      Yeah, the OneDrive tier changes prompted my change. I don't even find OneDrive to be that reliable with syncing, so once MS dropped the tiers to where I had to pay, I took my money elsewhere for better results. In other words, free is a good price for OneDrive.

    • Lauren Glenn

      In reply to waverunning.geek:

      Right. I stopped using Google Drive after it couldn't reliably sync files between my desktop PC and my other PCs. Google's solution was to uninstall and reinstall Google Drive to get it to sync. Meanwhile, I lost many files in the process and never used it again. OneDrive isn't much better as I remember the old placeholders with Windows 8 caused many files to just randomly reappear after being deleted and it created a HUGE sync disaster with things being duplicated with different versions. That's why I'll only use Dropbox but keep OneDrive to keep my video files on there since they brought placeholders back with Windows 10 but seemed to have done it right this time.

  33. ndwilder

    Cloud First, Users Last.

  34. TrevorL

    I always believed it was NTFS only. Never even thought of putting it on anything else.

  35. skane2600

    I stopped most of my use of OneDrive because of it's inability to properly handle Office files. It constantly believes there's a syncing issue between local and server when the document hasn't be changed anywhere. Now I only use OneDrive to view photos automatically uploaded from my Windows Phone.

    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to skane2600:

      Would this also be true of OneDrive for Business? Cause, oh my, I have persistent crashing of Office applications and nothing fixes it. What is worse is when the application recovers my file, it can't save as the original file name because it is still in use. IT has gone round and round and says OneDrive isn't the problem, but I get crashes almost everyday, several times a day, often when I'm not even interacting with the file. Could Autosave and OneDrive be doing it?

      • robinwilson16

        In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

        Around the time placeholder support was removed I found OneDrive basically became incompatible with Office 2013 whether it was the standard or business one and you could save a new file to OneDrive then when you pressed save a second time it would tell you the file was in use by someone else, that it was modified on the server and pc and I was asked which version I wanted to keep or it was read only and Office would freeze and crash (I think disabling the Office Document Cache helped as it was like both OneDrive and this were competing for the file to upload it). It was so bad and Microsoft couldn't help so I switched to DropBox after losing work on multiple occasions and everything has worked very reliably since then and syncing is faster.

        I have just switched back to OneDrive again (as would rather not have to pay for both!) and the new sync client with files on demand and Office 2016 seems better although I have already had it create duplicate files (where one has the computer name on the end) so time will tell!


  36. Waethorn

    Let's see:

    ReFS is dead.

    NT is dead.

    This week is a good one for Microsoft predictions. Can we make it a hat trick?

  37. JudaZuk

    I don't get the problem.. it is not like Windows 10 stopped supporting NTFS, it is just OneDrive..

    So you have a folder that no longer can sync , because the folder it is on a volume formatted in FAT32 ...

    1) move the folders to another drive formatted in NTFS, change so OneDrive syncs from the new location .


    2) Considering converting the FAT32 volume to NTFS

    ( In an elevated command-prompt type convert <drive letter>: /fs:ntfs )

    Have a cup of coffee, done..

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