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OneDrive vs SharePoint: When and Why You Use Each

We often have some similar questions popping up when chatting to our clients, “What’s the difference between OneDrive and SharePoint? Which do we need? Or do we need both?”

Because while both OneDrive and SharePoint are file storage and organisation solutions, the products themselves are quite a bit different. In today’s article, we’ll walk you through a quick overview of each, to give you a little bit more information about the type of function they provide for businesses.

OneDrive and SharePoint are both products from the Microsoft cloud services suite. Microsoft are a trustworthy software developer, rooted in their legacy Office products and Windows operating system environment. If you are looking for tools like SharePoint and OneDrive, and you’re already familiar with the Microsoft suite of products, then choosing these tools often makes the most sense from a continuity and trust perspective.

What is OneDrive?

OneDrive is a cloud file storage solution. Instead of storing files locally on your desktop machine or office servers, you can store business documents in the Microsoft cloud.

This means the files are stored on Microsoft’s servers rather than your own. If you’re running an Australian business, the data will be stored in an Australian Microsoft data centre for data residency and compliance reasons.

Plenty of Aussie businesses use data centers to store their business data (or at the very least, store off-site backups), OneDrive is simply the easy Microsoft implementation of this service.

Access to OneDrive is through the browser (or you can sync with a desktop client) or an app, and file structures and permissions can be set similarly to how you’d regularly set these up on the MS operating system. Since the files aren’t stored at your business, this means you can set things up so you can gain access to them from anywhere, whether it’s work, home, or while travelling.

OneDrive for Business is the business-focused product you should use within your company, rather than the personal version of the product, which you may already use at home. You’ll need to use the business version for work: the personal version will likely lack the functionality and security you’ll need for your business setup.

So, to recap: OneDrive is a place to store files so you don’t have to keep them on your desktop machine or on company servers.  

What is SharePoint?

SharePoint is also a file storage option, however it has the capability to be a much more organised and easy to use option for your employees than OneDrive. The focus here is on organisation, storage takes a back seat.

Document libraries form the basis of your SharePoint implementation. These libraries are places where files are stored specific to a team, project, or business function. It’s easy enough to set up access for specific employees or groups of employees, and the layout is pleasing on the eye and easy to navigate.

Document libraries are made more useful by powerful search and filtering functionality, metadata (tagging files to group them), versioning, and other tools.

Like OneDrive, files are stored on Microsoft servers in specific data centre locations, meaning you can access the files from any device, if configured to do so. Access is via the browser, an app, or can be synced to desktop.

Integrating SharePoint with Microsoft Teams for communication and collaboration with team members makes the whole concept far more useful as an office toolset than simply a file storage solution – like OneDrive.

When to use OneDrive vs SharePoint

For most businesses, we believe that SharePoint is usually a better tool for cloud file storage, access, and organisation across a business. Some small businesses may not need the overheads of SharePoint and be able to get away with using OneDrive for Business, however this is not generally the case.

While setting up and managing SharePoint may feel less familiar at first than if you were doing it in OneDrive, the learning curve isn’t too difficult to navigate and administrators (and employees) are usually able to get the hang of it in not too much time. The product has been designed with user experience in mind to make it intuitive, user friendly, and modern.

If you would like to learn more about how implementing SharePoint or OneDrive can help your business become more efficient through managed, secure document organisation (available anywhere), then have a chat to us at A1 Technologies. We’ll be able to advise on the best course of action for your business and see where these compelling technologies can take you.

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