OneDrive Woes

Today I had a real pickle of a problem to untangle for a teacher. We’re leveraging Microsoft’s cloud as much as we can, which means going all-in with Teams, Office 365 and naturally OneDrive. It wasn’t to be for this teacher however, a kind-hearted co-worker assisted her in setting up OneDrive to always keep her Desktop, Documents and other data always in the cloud during a PD event focused on Teams. This caused nothing but confusion and disarray as it seemed the actual locations were all symbolically linked to the OneDrive folder – she couldn’t find her data and for a while we (the tech I work with) and I couldn’t find them, until I found the recursion. Folders inside folders inside folders. The filename length limit exceeded, things not working as they should.

Nasty stuff, she wanted nothing to do with OneDrive and I couldn’t blame her. She approached me to find out if removing OneDrive would affect her data and to be honest I wasn’t confident with the answers I was finding through searching forums, so I erred on the side of caution. She brought in her 2TB USB hard drive and I tried to backup the data, it wasn’t happening however. I made sure all data was stored locally as well as in the cloud so nothing was missed but Windows wasn’t going to cut it, I needed to be away from the services and things running in the background to get the backup done.

I grabbed my handy Kali Linux USB and attempted to boot into it, secure boot was enabled but a quick change in the UEFI settings disabled it. This computer is an Acer TravelMate 449, which hides the SATA mode from the user for some odd reason. It was set to Optane RST (RAID OFF) so I had to press the super-duper secret key combination CTRL+S on the MAIN tab to put it into AHCI mode so the internal NVMe SSD could be read by my Kali USB (there are no drivers in the kernel for the Intel RAID mode at the time of writing).

I got the data backed up, put the settings back to normal in the UEFI, booted into Windows, killed OneDrive and changed the location of the Desktop, Documents and Pictures folders by going into properties, returning to the default and selecting the option to move the data. It seemed to work as expected but we still have the data on hand in case it doesn’t work out. Hey it doesn’t hurt to have backups!

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