How to Get Administrative Access to the OneDrive for Business Environment of a User

Eugène Dauphin

by Eugene Dauphin on 11/24/2015

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Article Details

Date Revised:

Applies to:
administrative access, Office 365, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online

In some cases, you might need administrative access to the OneDrive for Business environment of a user. Yesterday, for example, I had to make a backup of a couple of OneDrive for Business instances. As you might know, OneDrive for Business is SharePoint Online under the hood. By default, only the user has administrative rights of their OneDrive for Business; it is personal storage after all. If you open OneDrive for Business for another user, you will only see files that are shared with you or everyone as you can see in figure 1.

By default, an admin does not have access rights to a user's OneDrive for Business account. They can only see what is shared with everyone.
Figure 1: No administrative access OneDrive for Business

If you are familiar with SharePoint Online, you might recognize some of these steps to get administrative access.

  • Go to the Office 365 admin portal.
  • Open the SharePoint admin center.
  • On the left, choose user profiles.
  • Choose Manage User Profiles (see figure 2).

Choose Manage User Profiles in the SharePoint admin center
Figure 2: Manage User Profiles

  • Find the user you would like to have access to. For this article, we’re using Sara Davis.
  • Open the item menu of the user.
  • Choose Manage site collection owners (see figure 3).

Manage site collection owners, one step in giving admin access to a user's OneDrive for Business account
Figure 3: For administrative access to OneDrive for Business, click the Manage User Profiles item menu

Add your administrator account (figure 4) to the list of site collection administrators.

Add your administrator account to the list of site collection administrators so you can administer the user's OneDrive for Business account
Figure 4: OneDrive for Business site collection admin

After executing the steps above, you will see all files and folders (figure 5) for the current user.

Following the steps in this article, an admin can give themselves admin control of a user's OneDrive for Business account
Figure 5: You now have administrative access to the user’s OneDrive for Business account

You can also use Windows PowerShell to add your admin account to the OneDrive for Business site collection of the user. Make sure you are connected to SharePoint Online before executing the scripts below. You can do this easily with the scripts provided in the related article: Easily manage multiple Office 365 tenants with Windows PowerShell.

You can find Eugene’s original blog here:

Topic: Administration and Infrastructure

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  • Is there a way to make it so the user cannot remove the admin account that is given site collection admin permissions?
  • Is there a script that you can retrieve who has SCA access to all users One Drive ?
  • Thank you for the information. I am trying to figure out how to backup the onedrive for business for users. You mention you did a backup. Can you point me in the right directory for accomplishing a backup of users onedrive for business?
    • Hi use this script
        In the Q/A section there someone that''''s done the same ,I just got it running today ,so it does work .
  • Is it possible to perform this for all users in an organisation - as global admin ?
  • Is it possible to do this for all users in an organisation in one go?
  • Do I have to be in the Farme Administrator group to do this?