SharePoint vs. OneDrive: Where Should I Store My Files?

October 20, 2016

On the surface, a SharePoint library and a OneDrive library may seem strikingly similar. They're both cloud-based tools for storing content, their user interfaces look alike, they're both part of the Office 365 suite, and they can both be synced to your hard drive via the OneDrive for Business application. Considering all they have in common, it's easy to assume they work more or less the same way.


However, SharePoint libraries offer so much more functionality that, in most business content storage scenarios, OneDrive isn't worth consideration. That's not to say OneDrive doesn't serve a purpose. Personal, cloud-based storage space is a valuable asset for employees to have. The problem is that OneDrive is sometimes asked to do a job it isn't equipped to handle.


Here are some details to consider about SharePoint and OneDrive if you are debating which storage tool to leverage:


OneDrive for Business Pros

The best use for OneDrive for Business in a professional setting is to store personal content, for example company staff picnic photos, and potentially share that content with a select group of users. OneDrive for Business folders can be shared individually, while keeping other personal content hidden from view.


Using OneDrive for Business to share content, rather than attaching it to an email distribution, also reduces the amount of content the company's email server needs to manage. If those same fifteen photographs are shared via email with 200 people in the organization, the company email server will manage 3,000 individual copies of the photos thereby increasing the email server footprint.


OneDrive for Business Cons

OneDrive for Business uses folders to organize content. Using folders is a common practice when storing files on a personal computer or network share, but they aren’t the best practice for storing files in a content management system. Folders require users to navigate in and out to see the content within. Navigation can become confusing or tedious and files are hidden from view. 

The traditional "folders within folders" system can also create issues when changes to the structure are needed. To reorganize the folder system using different categories, files will need to be physically moved from one folder to another. Doing so will break any existing URLs connected to shared files or folders in that OneDrive for Business library.

Much like personal folders shared over a network, a OneDrive for Business library is associated with an "owner". If the employee leaves the company, any business-critical content stored in the OneDrive for Business repository must be migrated before the company deletes the user's account. The caveat is knowing the content is stored there (or that it exists) in the first place. 

Finally, if employees collaborating on a project are storing project documents in their personal OneDrive for Business libraries, it can be a challenge to determine who has the most recent version and if all documents required for the project exist.

SharePoint is Built for Sharing and Collaboration

SharePoint’s strength is providing a location for storing documents and other content where teams of users can collaborate. SharePoint libraries can be built in sites that are accessible to an easily adjustable audience. Each file is tagged showing who last edited the document, and if two users are editing the same document at once, SharePoint can merge the changes made by both.


SharePoint is an Organized Base of Information

SharePoint libraries allow content to be tagged using meaningful categories and apply rules based on the tags to display content. Need to see which documents are approved at a glance? Need to see which files are still in draft form? No problem. By using SharePoint’s sorting and filtering rules, documents can be presented for view based upon the status applied to the file. There’s no need to manually move the file between folders named for the status, as updating the status tag for a file changes how the file is presented. This functionality not only makes it simpler to locate and organize content and cuts down on maintenance, but it also keeps the content together in a single location.


SharePoint can Automate Your Business Processes
SharePoint libraries can leverage automated workflows to enhance business processes and streamline collaboration. Has a document been waiting for approval two days past its due date? Does a document need to be perfected before it can be approved? Automated email messages can be sent to the responsible person, reminding them to approve the document or indicating the need to revise and update the information.


We're Choosing SharePoint! Where Do We Go From Here?Now that you're aware of the benefits for using SharePoint for collaboration, it's time to make it happen. Working in the collaborative environment offered by SharePoint will make your staff more efficient both individually and as a team. Don't be surprised to overhear someone in the office say "I'm so glad we moved to SharePoint."

In our decades of working with clients to solve business problems, we find that SharePoint often ends up being the content storage solution most companies never knew they needed. Are you looking to adopt SharePoint and help your staff work better as a team? Get in touch and we'll help you decide on the SharePoint configuration that best fits your company.

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