The test team received this report from a person having problems with OneNote syncing notebooks on SharePoint and I want to share the fix for it. He has a notebook on a SharePoint server and was seeing this problem:

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    Couple with:

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    There's a lot going on here, so let me try to explain.

    First, the circle icon next to the name of the notebook is green - this means OneNote is either in the process of syncing the notebook (if it is animated) or the notebook has synced. You have changes made locally, stored in your cache, which need to be uploaded to the server.  The pop up message says the notebook is currently syncing, so everything seems fine at this point - OneNote has detected you have something to upload, and is attempting the upload. Most of the time the circle icon will turn red if there is a sync problem, but in this case the icon indicates everything is in progress.

    But when he looked at the sync details, he saw the second message about the notebook not having been synced (sunk? ) since last winter. At best, he is getting confused, at worst, OneNote is confusing with trying to tell him the status.

    So the first question is which of the two messages is correct: that the notebook is not available and hasn't synced in 28 days, or that it is syncing? The answer is both are correct: the notebook is there, and it is trying to sync. (It will fail in a minute or two, and I'll cover that). But for this period of time, both messages are technically correct. OneNote is in the process of trying to sync a notebook (which is what the first message is saying), but it has not successfully finished that sync since last November (what the second message is saying). So the green icon now means "A sync is being attempted, but has not failed." The error message points to the last attempted sync as having failed. Honestly, this is fairly poorly explained to users, and clearly we should do better.

    This current sync was about to fail again. Here's why.

    The problem was traced to a file embedded in the notebook with this type of a name: http://sharepoint/sites/SubFolder/Copy of 070701 Launch..txt

    Notice the .. near the end of the filename. That name is invalid to SharePoint, but OneNote does not reject it (a bug in OneNote). This is not intuitive to say the least.

    So the fix is to rename the file and remove one of the period characters in the filename. Finding the file is the next step. One way to do this is hover the mouse over embedded files (this example uses a different location than the one the customer reported, but shows the problem):

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    To fix the problem, copy the file to some location (I used my desktop) and delete the file from the page. Then rename the file without the ".." and add back to the page. Sync should start working.

    Another way to more quickly find the file if you know the extension is to use search. In my example above, the file is a TXT file, so searching for ..TXT quickly found it. The same tip works for PDF, DOC, etc…

    If you are having problems syncing a notebook on SharePoint servers, though, this may be something to check. With a mouse it went pretty quick once I knew what to look for.

    This is not the only reason this would fail, though. Quota limits are another. And a full list of naming requirements for SharePoint files is here. Notice the comment about consecutive periods and leading or trailing periods.

    Questions, comments, concerns and criticisms always welcome,

    John