What’s the Difference Between OneDrive and SharePoint

The nature of work is changing. For many companies, remote work is becoming more than an added bonus—it’s becoming a norm. According to Gallup, 43% of U.S. employees work remotely at least part of the time. Employees who collaborate across state lines or alternate between a home office and corporate headquarters need secure, reliable access to their files.

Managed services providers (MSPs) are being called on to help their customers navigate this new work culture through file sharing and storage platforms like OneDrive and SharePoint. While the two platforms have striking similarities, there are distinct differences between the two. Understanding the nuances of OneDrive vs. SharePoint will help you boost business efficiencies and enable you to advise your customers on how best to protect their sensitive information.

What are OneDrive and SharePoint?

SharePoint and OneDrive are file management platforms within the Microsoft suite of services. These two tools have a lot in common—users can leverage either tool to share and store files up to 15GB, co-edit documents simultaneously, and view a document’s version history. Both SharePoint and OneDrive are mobile friendly and allow for local syncing of files across devices. They also integrate into Office 365, making it easy to get work done on the go—any updates and edits you make offline are automatically synced when you rejoin the cloud.

Are SharePoint and OneDrive the same thing?

While both SharePoint and OneDrive help manage and store files, they are two unique programs with very different use cases.

OneDrive for Business—not to be confused with the similar software, OneDrive for personal or consumer use—is ideal for individual employees. It is best viewed as a tool that employees can leverage for their private first drafts as well as projects that haven’t developed enough to call for cohesive collaboration.

Meanwhile, SharePoint should be thought of as a team site. Once an employee is ready to share a personal draft, they can upload it from OneDrive to SharePoint. Teams can access files in SharePoint based on the admin’s predetermined permission settings. This allows multiple employees to automatically view, comment, and edit any document within the SharePoint system. The platform’s intuitive, clear dashboard keeps groups organized and on track.

What is the difference between OneDrive and SharePoint in Office 365?

Several unique features help explain why OneDrive is better for individual projects and SharePoint is best suited for teams. Understanding these differences between OneDrive vs. SharePoint is the first step to successful file management.

In OneDrive, users sign into personal OneDrive accounts and remain in control of the files they create and upload at all times. They designate who can view, edit, and comment on their files based on the permission level they set when sharing a document via a secure link. Without an invitation, no other member of the team can see an individual’s files. This is great for employees working on early-stage assignments that require minimal collaboration, or documents that only need to be shared once or twice over their lifetime.

SharePoint is a more robust project management platform. Companies build their own branded pages, managed by an admin. Admins can create unique team sites that anyone on the team can access—users don’t have personal interfaces. These branded pages contain intuitive dashboards featuring calendars, project updates, task lists, and notification settings. Files that are uploaded and saved to the SharePoint site inherit the permission level the admin has defined. This allows multiple employees to engage with a document without having to ask for a link granting permission. SharePoint is built with collaboration and communication in mind.

Beyond the branded, internal team sites, many companies also use SharePoint to build and maintain their company websites. Any document saved within the platform can be published online through SharePoint’s CMS system. Similarly, social media integrations make it easy to share highlights with the public and track engagement levels. There are even detailed analytics that companies may leverage to create custom applications for their employees or clients.

Can I sync SharePoint with OneDrive?

Sometimes a document or project grows in scope and must be moved from a limited, private OneDrive folder to SharePoint. Microsoft makes SharePoint–OneDrive integration not only possible but relatively straightforward. There are just a few key things to keep in mind before you begin your sync:

  • When you move a file from OneDrive to SharePoint, old hyperlinks to the original document will no longer work. Take this into account and send updated links to all necessary parties so they know exactly where to access this new version.
  • If you copy a file from OneDrive to SharePoint, it’s important to let everyone know that the version in OneDrive should no longer be used. Adding a link to the OneDrive document that redirects users to the new file on the team site can help ensure updates and edits are made to the correct document.

While the steps for copying or moving files from OneDrive to SharePoint can vary depending on your software version, they all follow roughly the same process:

  1. Select the files or folders you want to copy and select “Copy to.”
  2. Under “Choose a destination,” select the location(s) you want to move or copy it to.
  3. Once you select the appropriate locations, click “Copy here.”

The length of the process varies depending on the number and size of files you are transferring. Once the transfer is complete, employees can use SharePoint to take projects over the finish line.

Making the right choice 

MSPs and their customers often struggle to decide whether to use SharePoint or OneDrive. In many cases, the answer is both. These platforms are truly unique and achieve the greatest results when used in tandem. But depending on the size and scope of the operation, implementing both systems isn’t always an option.

OneDrive is great for smaller-scale projects that require minimal collaboration, while SharePoint is ideal for big-ticket items that necessitate collaboration across departments.

For more information on business systems and how you can become a trusted advisor for your customers, check out our blog.

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