Sync SharePoint Document Libraries using SkyDrive Pro

SkyDrive Pro is Microsoft’s solution for keeping SharePoint 2013 document libraries in sync with documents on your local file system. It attempts to provide the answer to the question “Where do I keep my documents?”.

Companies would rather have employees store their work related documents in SharePoint. By doing this, the documents are stored on company servers, they are backed up, and they are available anywhere.

But lets face it, from an employee perspective it is much more practical to keep work documents on the local file system. By doing this, documents are available offline, and creating and saving documents is simple and straight forward.

Microsoft attempts to solve this problem by providing what they call “SkyDrive Pro”. SkyDrive Pro seamlessly integrates with SharePoint 2013 and Office 2013, as well as the local file system. SkyDrive Pro can keep your SharePoint Document Libraries in sync with your local documents. Doing this will give you the best of both worlds. Your documents are stored locally for easy access, as well as within SharePoint for backups and easy sharing and collaboration.

Sync My Documents

To use SkyDrive Pro, you need to be using

SharePoint 2013 Preview

. When you visit your SharePoint site, you can see the SkyDrive option in the top toolbar.

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Clicking on that SkyDrive link will take you to your personal Documents library in SharePoint. This is the equivalent of My Personal Documents in SharePoint 2010.

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Click the “Sync” button in the top right corner. This will open a dialog that will ask you to configure syncing with your local folders. This process is going to install a light client on your machine that will be used to keep your documents in sync. This client looks very similar to Microsoft’s consumer product called “SkyDrive”, but it is actually completely separate and also a bit different. After the sync is configured, you will see a new icon in your task bar. Clicking on this icon will show the following options.

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You will also have a new link in the Favorites section of Windows Explorer called “SharePoint Libraries”.

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When you click on the SharePoint Libraries link it will open Windows Explorer. After a few moments (depending on how much content you have in your Documents library) you will see the documents for your Documents folder in SharePoint on your local file system. Notice the green checkbox that shows the status of the folder or file.

Add a new SharePoint 2013 Library

Another great features of SkyDrive Pro is that it is not limited to your My Documents library. You can sync any other library in SharePoint 2013 (that you have access to) as well. Simply go to the library you want to sync and click the Sync button in the upper right corner. Once configured, you will have a new folder within your SharePoint Libraries folder.

Add a new SharePoint 2010 library

As an added bonus, it looks like SkyDrive Pro also works with SharePoint 2010 Document Libraries. To sync a SharePoint 2010 document library, click on the SkyDrive Pro icon in the task bar and select “Open SharePoint Library”. A dialog will appear that will detect libraries for you. This may or may not return actual options for you depending on your environment. Either way, click Cancel.

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Now you should see a dialog that lets you manually type in a link to your document library. Enter a URL to a SharePoint 2010 document library and click Sync Now.

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After syncing, you should now see the new library in your SharePoint Libraries folder on your file system. The image below shows my SharePoint 2010 “Personal Documents” library as well as a library on my SharePoint 2013 Preview site.

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Summary

SkyDrive Pro for the SharePoint 2013 Preview shows some great potential for answering the question “Where do I keep my documents?”. Keep in mind that this feature is in beta and will likely change a bit upon release. There are some quirks right now, but it seems to work well with syncing documents in SharePoint 2013 as well as SharePoint 2010 (I have not tested with a SharePoint 2007 environment).

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