What Does a Red “X” Sign on Your Windows Folders Mean?


Do you see a red circle with a white cross on the left side of your Windows files, folders, or drives? If so, it means OneDrive is out of sync, and the folders affected by this problem are not properly synced.

Other possible causes for this issue include misconfigured OneDrive settings, issues with Windows File Explorer, or broken icons. If you’re sick of seeing these circles, this article will show you how you can remove them.

Before We Get Started…

First, perform the following preliminary checks, as they may help you get to the bottom of the problem:

  • Make sure the issue isn’t temporary by restarting your device once.
  • If you’re experiencing this issue on a specific folder, check whether it has some files corrupted in it. You can repair corrupted files using built-in Windows tools.
  • Make sure no other storage or sync apps are currently open on Windows.
  • If OneDrive is open on the web, close it.
  • If you use a Microsoft OneDrive premium plan, ensure it hasn’t expired.

If the above checks do not assist in pinpointing the cause, apply the remaining fixes.

1. Log Into OneDrive and Begin Syncing

Find the OneDrive icon at the right end of the taskbar, also known as the notification area or system tray. Seeing a red cross or slanted dash on the OneDrive icon means you are no longer logged in to OneDrive, and your files are not being synced. So, you’ll need to sign in again to begin syncing. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the system tray and click on the OneDrive icon.
  2. Click the Sign in button.
    Click on the Sign in Button to Log in to Microsoft OneDrive

  3. Enter the email address associated with your Microsoft account and click Sign in. If you want to sync your data to a OneDrive account created with the same Microsoft account you are using on your device, you won’t have to enter a password. If it’s different, you may need to enter a password.
    Sign In to OneDrive Using Microsoft Account

  4. Choose a OneDrive folder location or click Next to use the default location.
    Click on the Next Button After Choosing OneDrive Folder Location

  5. Then, follow a few on-screen instructions to log into OneDrive.

After logging in, reboot your device. Hopefully, a fresh sync will resolve the issue with the folder icons. But how do you proceed if you’re already logged in to OneDrive?

If your account is already signed in on OneDrive, but you are encountering this problem, there could be an issue with syncing. Therefore, unlink the already linked account and then relink it. Follow the below steps to do that:

  1. Click on the OneDrive icon in the system tray.
  2. Click on the cog wheel icon in the top-right corner.
  3. Select Settings from the menu.
    Go to Settings From OneDrive Menu

  4. Go to the Account tab in the OneDrive Settings window.
  5. Then click on Unlink this PC.
    Unlink the PC From OneDrive

  6. In the confirmation window, click Unlink account.
  7. After unlinking the account, open Windows File Explorer or the folder where you see a red circle with a white cross.
  8. Right-click to bring up the context menu, then click Refresh.
    windows context menu

Hopefully, unlinking the OneDrive account will fix the issue. If it does, sign in to OneDrive again by following the instructions in the first fix.

3. Change OneDrive Settings

If you see cross-hatched red circles beside files or folders when using a metered connection or battery-saving mode, you’ve probably configured OneDrive not to sync files in these scenarios. So, you should change these settings if that’s the case. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. On the left sidebar, right-click on OneDrive and click Show more options.
    Click on the Show More Options to Expand Context Menu

  3. Select Settings from the context menu.
    Open OneDrive Settings From the Context Menu

  4. Go to the Sync and backup tab in the OneDrive Settings window.
  5. In the Preferences settings, turn off toggles next to Pause syncing when this device is in battery saver mode and Pause syncing when this device is on a metered connection.
    Disable Certain Options in the Preferences Settings of Microsoft OneDrive

When you disable these two options, OneDrive syncing won’t stop when your device is connected via a metered connection or set to power-saving mode.

4. Ensure OneDrive Has Enough Space Free

The problem under discussion can also occur if there isn’t sufficient space in OneDrive for syncing additional data. Hence, if you have not been successful in resolving the issue with the above fixes, you should check the available space in your OneDrive account.

To check that, go to OneDrive’s sign-in page. Then, enter your login credentials to access OneDrive. After logging in, click on the cog wheel icon in the top-right corner and go to Options. Here, you will see how much storage space you have available.

Go to Options From the Settings Menu of OneDrive

In case the OneDrive storage is full, you will need to delete some of your data stored there, or you will need to uncheck some of the folders in OneDrive to stop them from syncing. Furthermore, if you’re using a free plan with 5GB of free storage, which is not enough to accommodate your data, you should consider upgrading.

If you have enough free storage space in OneDrive, which means low storage space isn’t the issue, you can move on to the next step.

5. Restart the Windows Explorer Process

Restarting the Windows Explorer process resolves most visual issues on a Windows PC. Therefore, if you have not already restarted it, you should do so now. If you’re unfamiliar with the process, check out our guide on how to restart File Explorer.

6. Reinstall OneDrive

If the issue persists despite applying the above fixes, you should reinstall OneDrive. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the Windows Start button and select Settings.
  2. Go to the Apps tab on the left.
  3. Navigate to Installed apps or Apps and Features from the right pane.
    Go to Installed Apps in Apps Tab of Windows Settings App

  4. In the Search apps field, type “OneDrive.”
  5. Then click on three horizontal dots next to Microsoft OneDrive and click Uninstall.
    Uninstall Microsoft OneDrive in Windows Settings App

  6. After that, go to the OneDrive download page and re-download OneDrive.
  7. Then, run the setup file and wait for it to finish installing.
  8. Reboot your device once the installation is complete.
  9. After that, sign in again to begin syncing.

Get Rid of Red Circles on Your Windows Folders

Seeing red circles on Windows folders gives the impression that your computer has a severe problem. Hopefully, now you understand why these annoying cross signs appear on your folders. In addition, the fixes discussed in the article will help you resolve this annoying problem.


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