SharePoint vs OneDrive: Do the Differences Really Matter?

SharePoint vs OneDrive: Do the Differences Really Matter?

The demand and popularity of remote work gave rise to tremendous advancements in cloud-based solutions — all to facilitate easy collaboration between team members and employees.

Those who work remotely must have some sort of way to access company files and use them accordingly. This particular need gave rise to file sharing and storage platforms like SharePoint and OneDrive.

The problem here is that since both tools come from Microsoft, many business owners and team leaders who aren’t that tech-savvy are confused about which of the two they should use.

Let’s shed some light upon this topic and see how one stacks up against the other…

SharePoint vs OneDrive: Overview

If you’re a heavy user of Microsoft products, you must have noticed that many of their services and apps have overlapping features. However, that doesn’t mean Microsoft is shipping out redundant solutions (and slapping them with different names).

What is Microsoft 365?

SharePoint and OneDrive, though they have similar features, are not the same product. But it’s hard to ignore all the similarities that they have.

Both can also be considered file management platforms with features like file storage and sharing, the ability to co-edit documents, and file versioning.

They also work flawlessly on mobile, though in the case of SharePoint, it’s only applicable to modern sites and pages.

Both of them are part of Office 365. They can either be bought as part of a subscription plan or bought separately (standalone).

SharePoint got a 6-year headstart. It launched in 2001. Now, SharePoint has more or less 200 million users. OneDrive launched later in 2007. Currently, it now has around half a billion users around the world.

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    SharePoint vs OneDrive: Main Uses

    Despite OneDrive launching a bit later than SharePoint, it’s clearly more popular than the other. It’s definitely leading in trends, as can be seen below from how they trend in Google in the last years.

    OneDrive is more popular than SharePoint

    Basically, OneDrive is a file storage platform.

    Users can store and share their files and documents in it like an online folder system or an online filing cabinet. Think about how a hard disk stores files and File Explorer for browsing those files in the hard disk.

    OneDrive has both personal and business plans available.

    Save your files and photos to OneDrive and access them from any devices, anywhere

    The personal plan, with its free plan, accounts for a large number of its users. These are people who created a regular account on Microsoft online (who can then avail of a free 5 GB storage with OneDrive).

    As for the business plan, it’s exclusive for those who subscribe to Office 365.

    SharePoint, on the other hand, is a platform designed for collaboration, storage, and sharing of files and documents.

    In reality, however, organizations use it more for project management and intranet communications rather than as a file storage system.

    SharePoint — Your mobile, intelligent intranet

    With SharePoint, users can upload and save files, documents, and folders into the website. Whatever you upload in SharePoint must adhere to the permission level set by the admin for that directory or folder.

    It’s also more secure as team members can access and make changes to the files without the risk of giving those outside the organization any access when specified by the administrator.

    But documents can be published online when desired.

    Aside from that, SharePoint can also help with building company websites. It could be an internal site, like a communications site or internal documentation. It can also be a customer-facing site.

    SharePoint vs OneDrive: Storage and Accessibility

    Companies use both these platforms together. This is the same reason why some are confused as to whether which one is more suitable for file storage, seeing that both of them have this feature.

    To see beyond this foggy cloud, it’s better to consider OneDrive as a platform for saving personal files and documents. Remember that this platform is marketed to serve as a personal online storage system.

    OneDrive is the best place to store personal files and documents

    As for the best practice — use OneDrive for your own files and documents. Inside your OneDrive, indicate the folders that will contain all the files and documents that you want to share with others.

    Every time you need to share your document with others, move or copy the file to the “shared” folder, and change the share settings from there.

    By default, it’s set to “private”. This way, mistakenly sharing a file with the wrong person will be avoided.

    As for SharePoint, use it to save files and documents that will be used for collaboration, especially when your company is using both platforms that we’re talking about.

    This is easier since managing permissions and accessibility settings isn’t an issue.

    Use SharePoint to store company files and documents

    Your administrator can set permission level by folder or directory. Files and documents uploaded to this folder or directory will carry over the permission level that was set.

    But here’s a popular question when it comes to the file storage feature between OneDrive and SharePoint…

    Can you transfer files from one to the other?

    Fortunately, copying or moving files from OneDrive to SharePoint and the other way around is easy and seamless.

    How to copy files from OneDrive to SharePoint

    But you should remember that moving (not copying) a file or document from OneDrive to SharePoint will render old share links unusable.

    If you did share something with other people prior to moving a file, make sure to send them the updated share link.

    If a file or document was copied, instead of moved, you still have to inform the concerned parties to keep them from using the OneDrive version (since it still exists and can be used).

    How to copy files from SharePoint to OneDrive

    Remember that when you copy a file or a document, only the latest version is copied. If you need to copy earlier versions, you need to restore those versions first. Then, you need to copy each one of them.

    Note that you can copy files, documents, and folders using the online portal, with a limit of up to 500 MB. When you need to copy anything larger than that, you need to use File Explorer.

    SharePoint vs OneDrive: Resource Management and Collaboration

    When it comes to resource management and collaboration, SharePoint and OneDrive have more or less similar features.

    But what OneDrive can’t do is put up your own organization’s intranet (sites and pages) and social media connections.

    Most social media platforms and networks have plugins that will allow you to easily integrate them with SharePoint’s content management system.

    How to share a file from OneDrive

    Sending links is the only way to share files and documents in OneDrive. The good thing about this is how it makes files and documents easily discoverable. On the other hand, you can’t publish them publicly.

    The problem will link sharing is when you accidentally delete a file, then the share links will not work anymore.

    That’s why SharePoint is more suited for organization-wide file sharing and collaboration. It allows organizations to create collaborative hubs where teams can set up their own intranet websites.

    How to share a file from SharePoint

    They can then use this website as a project management tool and add features like calendars, to-do lists, status updates, and more.

    Anyone can view and edit all the files and documents that can be seen on a SharePoint site. But accidents rarely happen since the changes are tracked by those who have higher permission levels.

    SharePoint vs OneDrive: Other Alternatives

    If your organization isn’t using Microsoft’s ecosystem, then it’s okay to consider other alternatives. OneDrive has a lot of readily available alternatives. As for SharePoint, not so much.

    Google Drive and Dropbox for Business are good alternatives to OneDrive.

    Both of these platforms have very similar features and capabilities as that with OneDrive. The offline sync of Dropbox for Business may even be more superior than the other two.

    What is Dropbox for Business

    With SharePoint, there are a few solutions out there that are close to what this platform can do. It’s hard to find a solution that offers all the set of features that SharePoint offers (especially in terms of capabilities).

    The closest two are Jostle and Nuxeo

    What is Nuxeo

    Like SharePoint, these two solutions allow you to put up an intranet for your organization. But they are obviously way simpler and toned down than SharePoint. Only consider them if you’re not comfortable with SharePoint.

    Again, if you’re running on Microsoft’s ecosystem, SharePoint and OneDrive are two precious solutions you should use.

    So what’s the difference again?

    It’s quite clear that SharePoint and OneDrive aren’t the same services. Some features may overlap, but their main uses are quite different.

    OneDrive is the more popular service among the two. SharePoint is usually used in enterprise and large organization settings. Its complexity makes it unsuitable for small companies.

    In terms of advantages, OneDrive has an edge in terms of sync options. It can seamlessly sync files, documents, and folders with local computers. This makes them accessible even when you’re offline.

    That’s why OneDrive is perfect as a personal online storage system.

    As for SharePoint, its overall functionality is extremely flexible.

    Though you can it for file storage, it offers more than that — collaboration, internal documentation, company website, customer-facing interface, and project management.

    Accessibility and permission management is also easier in SharePoint. Those with higher permission levels can oversee the changes being done on a document.

    After all that has been said, do the differences really matter?

    The clear answer is no. In the first place, these platforms have their own specialized uses. Though you can use them for file storage, OneDrive is a better fit for personal uses while SharePoint is the best for collaboration.

    In reality, though, you will not think of SharePoint as a file storage system. Instead, you will be focusing more on its collaborative features. The rest will only follow.

    About Ryan Clark

    As the Principal Solutions Architect at Mr. SharePoint, I help companies of all sizes better leverage Modern Workplace and Digital Process Automation investments. I am also a Microsoft Most Valued Professional (MVP) for Office Apps & Services.

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