OneDrive: Getting Rid of Groove.exe

Do you use OneDrive? Have you had problems with OneDrive sync to Office 365 and/or SharePoint document libraries? If you have, it’s possible you have a problem with competing OneDrive sync programs running on your system.

The old “OneDrive for Business” sync application (for Windows) has been replaced with the new “OneDrive” (for Windows) sync application that combined the OneDrive (Personal/Consumer) and OneDrive For Business (e.g. Office 365 OneDrive) capabilities. The new capabilities of the new OneDrive application seems to work…

Except when the old “OneDrive For Business” application is still running at the same time on a system as the new OneDrive sync client application. Underneath the covers, this old “OneDrive For Business” application is actually the “Groove.exe” application that is part of the Office application (for Windows) installation.

The problem results from the fact that the Office 2016 install is now separate from the OneDrive “New Client” installation. And Office 2016 still includes the old ODFB-Groove.exe installation and auto-run.

The “Transition from the previous OneDrive for Business Sync Client” page doesn’t actually stop Groove.exe from running even after you’ve installed the new OneDrive Sync Client. The “Fix OneDrive sync problems” page also doesn’t tell you how to get the old ODFB client to stop running. Several pages tell you to uninstall the old OneDrive for Business application, but that won’t work because it’s NOT listed as a separate program in the Control Panel>Uninstall or change a program page.

The result is that your OneDrive situation gets seriously confused on your system. The ODFB-Groove.exe still wants to sync with Office 365 and SharePoint, to the point where it gets in the way of the new OneDrive sync.

How can tell if you have this “battling OneDrives” on your system? Here are the symptoms:

  1. You have more than one “blue cloud” icon in your system tray.

    The old ODFB-Groove.exe icon looks like this:

    The NEW ODFB icon (provided by the new OneDrive client application) looks like this:

    Notice the difference? It’s subtle. The old ODFB has a white border around the clouds (while in the systray), while the new one doesn’t.

    If you have only the white bordered clouds, you only have the old ODFB (running Groove.exe)

    If you only have the icon with no white borders around the clouds, you’re running the new ODFB (OneDrive) and you should be fine.

    If you have both icons, your system is going to give you problems with OneDrive. Which will lead to the next symptoms.

  2. You have a SharePoint icon in your File Explorer’s Navigation Pane (the left pane):

    This indicates you have synced a SharePoint Document Library (or more) using the old ODFB-Groove client.

    If it has a “T” underneath the SharePoint, that means your old ODFB is seriously confused and misconfigured:

  3. You still have Groove.exe in your Office application folders under the Program Files (x86) directory:

    (this is what it looks like when you do a search for Groove.exe on your Program Files (x86) directory

    We’ll actually, this alone doesn’t indicate fully that you’re running Groove. Exe. If you look in the Detail tab of your Task Manager, you’ll also see Groove.exe is running.

In several forums many people suggest renaming the Groove.exe file to have a different file extension (like .old). This does seem to fix the problem by keeping Groove. Exe from running after reboot — but this only works temporarily.

[Side note: It’s not clear to me where Groove.exe actually gets started. It’s not listed as one of the Start-up programs (see task manager), nor is it mentioned in any services. It seems some other Office 2016 executable that executes on startup/login also spawns the Groove.exe process. It’s definitely not obvious.]

The “fix” of renaming Groove.exe only works temporarily because Office 2016 notices that Groove.exe is missing and restores it at some point. Part of a built-in self-healing mechanism I imagine.

And because of that Groove.exe starts running again at some point and the “White-bordered cloud” reappears in the system tray. Not good.

It turns out the fix is to reconfigure the local Office 2016 installation so that it excludes the “Groove” feature (basically disabling it.) How, by running the Office 2016 Deployment Tool with an updated configuration file. Specifically, the configuration file needs to include the element:

<ExcludeApp ID=“Groove” />

This is the magic cookie – Running the Office 2016 Deployment Tool with this line will keep Groove.exe from running once and for all. Why this isn’t the default when the new OneDrive client is installed boggles the mind. I found this information thanks to Hugo Costelha on this technet forum page.

But not so fast.. The exact configuration of the configuration.xml file you set up for the Office 2016 deployment tool depends on which version of Office 2016 you’re running. It varies based on what Office 365 subscription you have (or have been assigned.) Here’s the page describing what “product Ids” map to which O365 subscriptions. For my system, the configuration file has this in it:

<Add OfficeClientEdition=“32” Channel=“Current”>

<Product ID=“O365ProPlusRetail”>

<Language ID=“en-us” />

</Product>

<Product ID=“VisioProRetail”>

<Language ID=“en-us” />

</Product>

<ExcludeApp ID=“Groove” />

</Add>

In this case, I added the Visio product info because I also run Visio.

Now running the Office 2016 Deployment tool with this configuration file makes sure my installation conforms to this configuration:

setup.exe /configure configuration.xml

 Turns out there are a lot of configuration options (and command line parameters) that are available for the Office 2016 Deployment Tool (which just shows up as setup.exe when ‘installed’ – unzipped).

So you need to make sure that the configuration file is correct for whomever you’re running this config tool for.

If you have the right automation tools (e.g. SCCM) that can automatically generate the right configuration file and run the setup.exe without intervention (and remotely), you can get this going (and you likely work in an enterprise). For use, we don’t have that infrastructure, so it’ll require going to each machine, picking the right config file (based on common subscription setups), and running it. Of course, none of the office apps can run while you run this setup tool – so they’ll have to do without the local Office apps for a while. (For O365 users, then can temporarily switch to the browser versions of the apps if they really need to.)

Running setup with excluding the Groove app works. It does not remove the Groove.exe file – it just doesn’t run it anymore.

Of course YMMV. It’s Microsoft technology.

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Here’s a couple of other related items:

This page says that if you are running Windows 10 or Office 2016 that you already have the new OneDrive sync client. That’s BS. You may not. To make sure, download and install the new client anyway.

Where does the name “Groove” come from? It comes from the company that Ray Ozzie set up that created a really cool collaboration environment that supported dynamic synchronization. The company was Groove Networks and the product was called Groove, one of the first enterprise uses of peer-to-peer networking..

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