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Microsoft Office Upload Center is going away. Should you be worried?

For almost ten years, Microsoft Office users have seen the orange "Upload Center" icon in their system tray (the technical term for those notifications in the lower-right corner of Windows). It is an essential tool for business users who keep most of their documents in the cloud. But a recent email sent to all Office 365 early access users in the "Insiders" program warned that the Upload Center is being totally shut down for all users very soon. So, what does this mean and how does it change the way you work with Office 365?

Why the Upload Center is important

The Microsoft Upload Center is a free, built-in tool enabling Word, Excel, and PowerPoint users to open documents shared in cloud-based storage such as SharePoint and OneDrive, make changes locally, then upload the files back to the server. Upload Center first appeared in Microsoft Office 2010 and has continued up to the present cloud-based versions of Office 365. The advantage of Upload Center was that it automated and monitored the transfer process without human intervention. If the process was interrupted for some reason, the Upload Center would notify you and could even restart the process later, when network connectivity returned.

That means not only was Upload Center a time saver for Microsoft Office users who work remotely and on mobile devices, it has enabled new and more efficient ways of working. No longer did the authors of a document have to email files back and forth, always wondering "am I using the most recent file?" Keeping the documents in the cloud and synchronized automatically with Upload Center has been essential for maintaining version control for documents.

However, most people wouldn't even know Upload Center was there unless an interruption in internet service caused a version conflict. This would commonly happen when the local and online versions of the document got out of sync in ways that couldn't be automatically resolved by the tool. In those cases, the orange Upload Center icon in the system tray would notify you of the problem. But the downside of the notification was a lack of explanation in the actual app that you were using to create the file; apps such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. You were always forced to go into Upload Center, open it, and then fix the trouble. If you never noticed the Upload Center icon alert, then you ended up with even more problems due to cloud-based documents that were out of sync with your local files.

"Files Needing Attention" replaces Upload Center

Microsoft is enhancing the experience for Office 365 users by moving these alerts directly into the app you are using. Rather than having to check the system tray for Upload Center icon notifications, there will be a "Files Needing Attention" alert in whatever Office 365 app you are currently using—which is a much better way of giving actionable information to the user. The new "Files Needing Attention" experience works no matter where the file is stored in the cloud or if it is shared via a link in SharePoint, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams.

For example, say you are an Office 365 subscriber editing a shared presentation in Microsoft PowerPoint on your laptop using secure internet from your wireless carrier's hotspot device. The internet temporarily drops during PowerPoint's auto-save function causing your locally saved file to go out of sync with the cloud version of the file. You'll be alerted of any out of sync files with a yellow "!" icon at the top of your presentation. You can then go to File > Open > Files Needing Attention to find these files.


It's important to note that internet access for both businesses and individuals has gotten faster and more available in the almost decade since Upload Center was introduced. Microsoft created the new experience for this new cloud-first reality. The Files Needing Attention section in your Office 365 apps only appears if you have a file that didn't save successfully to the cloud. The app will give you the option to either open the file and re-save, or, you can discard the changes completely. This new experience replaces the outdated Upload Center, giving you more control over your cloud-based files.

Prepare for the end of the Upload Center

The good news is that you won't lose any functionality or data with this update. The majority of Office 365 for Business and Enterprise customers will see the new Files Needing Attention experience beginning October 2019. Microsoft plans to complete the first wave of Upload Center replacements by the end of 2019 and continue on a monthly cadence until around July 2020.

However, for users of legacy versions of Microsoft Office, the end of the Upload Center is just one more reason to consider migrating to Office 365 (or Microsoft 365 if you're still on Windows 7). Amaxra consultants are cloud-migration experts thanks to our Microsoft certification as a Gold level Cloud Services Provider.

Contact me at Rosalyn.arntzen@amaxra.com or call 425 749 7471 if you have any questions or comments on this blog.

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