OneDrive and 0x80270113 error

Error 0x80270113 is yet another mysterious Windows error that Microsoft doesn’t explain well. First, some background:

OneDrive for Windows 8.1 supports online-only files. It’s a great idea: these files look normal, but they take up almost no space. That’s because they actually only exist in Microsoft’s cloud and are not on your hard drive.

If you right-click on an online-only file and select Properties, you’ll see that the Size on disk field is just a few bytes. It’s only a stub file. If you open the stub file, OneDrive transparently downloads the full copy.

In theory, online-only files are a great way to share files across multiple devices that may not have enough drive space to copy all of them locally. Strangely, Microsoft is ditching online-only files for Windows 10.

Error 0x80270113 happens when Windows doesn’t know how to open a OneDrive stub file. Here’s how it happened to me:

I am quitting OneDrive because it’s slow. I have several gigabytes of files in OneDrive. I need to move them out of OneDrive.

Normally, moving files is a fast cut and paste operation. Normally, the file itself isn’t moved. Rather, a few bytes of filesystem data is tweaked to tell Windows that the file is in a new folder.

This is like adjusting highway signs to tell people a new route to a city. The city is still in the same place; all that changed was the route you take to get to the city.

Moving files out of OneDrive is like moving the whole city! Even if you aren’t using online-only files, moving files in or out of your computer’s OneDrive folder is a pokey copy-and-delete operation. With this, a copy of the file is made in the destination location, then the file is deleted from its source location. This is exponentially slower than a move.

As I have many gigabytes of files to move, I got impatient on the long wait. I stopped the move, shut down OneDrive, and used PowerShell’s Move-Item command to do a classic file move operation.

Oops! Move-Item isn’t aware of OneDrive, so it happily moved the file stubs without downloading them first. Only when I tried to open the OneDrive stub files when they were outside of the OneDrive directory did I get the 0x80270113 error! The error probably means is that you have a stub file outside of its OneDrive directory, and Windows doesn’t know how to deal with it.

To make things worse, after I moved all these files out of OneDrive, the OneDrive agent synchronized my now empty OneDrive folder, which caused all the online copies of the files to be deleted. (That is actually correct behavior: if you get rid of a file locally, it should also be removed from the online drive.) This means I was left with only stub files on my hard drive and an empty OneDrive. Is my data gone?

Luckily, OneDrive has an online Recycle Bin. I restored everything from the online Recycle Bin back into OneDrive. My local OneDrive agent then set up online-only stubs of all these files. Now I can use the Windows Explorer’s cut and paste feature to move these files out of OneDrive. I’m pasting them in the same location where I moved the files using Move-Item. With this operation, I am telling Windows Explorer to overwrite the stub files in the destination. This overwrites the tiny stubs with actual data.

At this point, you may ask, “Why did you move your files using Move-Item if you had set them to be online-only?” Answer: I never set any files to be online-only on this PC! I don’t know why that happened. All I can guess is one of:

  • OneDrive does this intentionally for some files.
  • OneDrive bug.
  • I had the OneDrive client running on two other PCs, and on both those other PCs, I set them to use online-only file copies. Perhaps OneDrive somehow carried that setting over to my main computer?

Regardless of why, this is a pain to deal with. I’m very fortunate that OneDrive’s Recycle Bin actually works!

OneDrive is throttled and slow

OneDrive has a low speed cap for new files. Uploading new files is slow.

To test, I uploaded several GB of data with Google Drive and OneDrive. I used NetBalancer to monitor upload speeds. Over 10 minutes, I averaged these upload speeds:

  • Google Drive (googledrive.exe): 2.3 MB/s
  • OneDrive (skydrive.exe): 0.2 MB/s

That’s right, OneDrive’s upload speed is about one tenth of Google Drive’s! This test was done over an 802.11n wifi connection to an unthrottled corporate network that has at least a 1.5 Gb/s upload speed to the internet. Yes, there was upload activity the entire time, although OneDrive paused uploads between files or batches of files.

Others experience slow uploads.

Also, moving files into your OneDrive folder is slow. Instead of a move, it does a copy-and-delete operation. This is painful on spinning media, especially with a lot of files.

OneDrive isn’t good. It’s slow.