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Preventing and Managing OneDrive Session Lockouts Guide

Reco Security Experts
June 4, 2024
June 4, 2024

Comprehensive Guide to Managing and Preventing Session Lockouts in OneDrive Settings

OneDrive is a robust yet simple-to-use cloud storage platform suitable for businesses of all sizes, from small enterprises to large corporations. Unlike other cloud storage providers, most of the advanced enterprise-focused features in OneDrive are available for every subscription type, enabling organizations to use OneDrive in ways that benefit them the most.

How OneDrive Works

Integration with Office Apps

  • You can sign in to OneDrive directly from any Office app. Select “Sign in” in the upper-right corner of the app, enter your Microsoft account email address and password, and proceed.
  • When working on a document, you can save it directly to OneDrive by choosing File > Save As and selecting your OneDrive location.

Work and Collaboration

  • OneDrive integrates seamlessly with Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) and SharePoint.
  • As part of your organization’s Microsoft 365 subscription or SharePoint Server, you can save files in OneDrive and work with them from almost any device.
  • You can upload files from your PC or Mac and easily share them with others.

Personal Cloud Storage

  • OneDrive offers both free and subscription-based storage options.
  • Start with 5 GB of free cloud storage, or subscribe to Microsoft 365 for more space.
  • Back up important files, photos, apps, and settings to OneDrive, ensuring availability in case of device issues.

Session Lockouts in OneDrive

Session lockouts in OneDrive can be frustrating, disrupting workflow and causing inconvenience. These lockouts occur when a user exceeds the maximum number of allowed sign-in attempts or when security policies are triggered. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve deep into the causes of session lockouts in OneDrive and provide detailed strategies for managing and preventing them.

Common Reasons Why Sessions Lockouts in OneDrive Happen

Session lockouts in OneDrive can occur due to various reasons, including:

1. Exceeding Sign-In Attempts:

OneDrive may lock a user's account if they exceed the maximum number of sign-in attempts allowed within a certain period. This is a security measure to protect the account from unauthorized access.

2. Suspicious Activity:

Unusual sign-in patterns or activities that are flagged as suspicious by Microsoft's security systems can lead to a session lockout.

3. Password Changes:

If a user changes their password but fails to update it on all devices or applications accessing OneDrive, it can result in a session lockout.

4. Security Policies:

Organizations may have security policies in place that require periodic password changes or multi-factor authentication. Failure to comply with these policies can lead to a session lockout.

Managing Session Lockouts

To effectively manage session lockouts in OneDrive, consider the following strategies:

Use Strong, Unique Passwords

Encourage users to use strong and unique passwords for their OneDrive accounts. Avoid using easily guessable passwords or reusing passwords across multiple accounts.

The primary goal of a robust password system is password diversity. Your password policy should contain many different and hard-to-guess passwords. Here are a few recommendations for keeping your organization as secure as possible.

  • Maintain an eight-character minimum length requirement
  • Avoid imposing specific character composition requirements. For example, *&(^%$
  • Don't require mandatory periodic password resets for user accounts
  • Ban common passwords to keep the most vulnerable passwords out of your system
  • Educate your users not to reuse their organization passwords for non-work-related purposes
  • Enforce registration for multi-factor authentication
  • Enable risk-based multi-factor authentication challenges

Enable Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)

MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide additional verification, such as a code sent to their phone, in addition to their password. This can help prevent unauthorized access and reduce the risk of session lockouts.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a crucial security measure to protect Office 365 accounts. By requiring users to provide more than one method of authentication during sign-in, you significantly enhance security. Here’s how you can set up MFA in Office 365:

In the Microsoft 365 admin center:

  • Navigate to Users > Active users.
  • Choose multi-factor authentication.

Monitor Sign-In Activity

Regularly monitor sign-in activity for any unusual patterns or suspicious activity. Microsoft provides tools for monitoring sign-ins and security alerts.

Office 365 sign-in logs record user authentication events, including successful and failed sign-ins, as well as suspicious activity. Analyzing these logs enables administrators to detect potential security threats.

Reviewing sign-in errors and patterns provides valuable insight into how your users access applications and services. The sign-in logs provided by Microsoft Entra ID are powerful activity logs that you can analyze.

To navigate to the Entra ID portal as an administrator, use the URL entra.microsoft.com, click on Users on the left-hand side, and select the Sign-in logs.

Examine the values in these columns:

  • Review IP Addresses: You can review the IP address of your users.
  • Sign-In Locations: You can review the locations to see if anyone signed in from a strange location on the user's OneDrive.
  • Sign-In Times: You can know the number of times the user signs in.
  • Sign-In Success or Failure: This shows if the user's sign-in was successful or not.
  • Update Passwords Promptly: If a user changes their password, ensure they update it on all devices and applications accessing OneDrive to prevent session lockouts.
  • Educate Users: Educate users about the importance of security best practices, such as avoiding clicking on suspicious links and regularly updating their passwords.

Preventing Session Lockouts in OneDrive

Preventing session lockouts in OneDrive requires a proactive approach to security. Consider the following preventive measures:

1. Implement Security Policies:

Establish and enforce security policies that require regular password changes, the use of strong passwords, and multi-factor authentication.

2. Use Conditional Access Policies:

Conditional Access policies allow you to control access to OneDrive based on specific conditions, such as location or device. This can help prevent unauthorized access and reduce the risk of session lockouts.

3. Provide Security Awareness Training:

Educate users about common security threats and best practices for protecting their OneDrive accounts. This can help prevent accidental account lockouts due to phishing or other attacks.

4. Enable Self-Service Password Reset:

Enable self-service password reset options for users to easily recover their accounts in case of a lockout.

5. Use Single Sign-On (SSO):

Implementing SSO solutions can streamline access to OneDrive while ensuring security and reducing the likelihood of session lockouts.


Managing and preventing session lockouts in OneDrive requires a combination of security best practices, user education, and proactive monitoring. By implementing these strategies, you can help protect your OneDrive account from unauthorized access, ensure data security, and maintain a smooth workflow for your users.

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