Is it for We or Me? When to choose OneDrive or SharePoint

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Where do you save your work documents? For most Microsoft Windows users, the default location is the My Documents folder. But in our increasingly cloud-powered workplaces, many are using Microsoft SharePoint and OneDrive for Business online storage. The obvious advantage to storing documents in the cloud enables working from anywhere and instant collaboration.

However, SharePoint and OneDrive are not interchangeable storage spaces. There are distinct advantages to using each. While there is some feature overlap, understanding which works best for your situation is critical. Knowing the differences between OneDrive for Business and SharePoint can improve your business’ efficiency.

Microsoft created SharePoint as a web-based collaboration platform for businesses. First released in 2001 as a document management and storage system, SharePoint has become tightly integrated with Microsoft Office 365 services. Many companies use SharePoint for secure, centralized cloud storage for business-critical documents.

That’s quite different from Microsoft OneDrive, which initially began as free personal cloud storage service for photos and documents. OneDrive was designed to provide consumers with a single online space where all of their files could be accessed from any Internet device. However, Microsoft now offers OneDrive for Business—a more secure version of the consumer offering—for Office 365 subscribers.

Because both cloud services are available in Office 365, it confuses some users. But the easiest way to know which service is appropriate is to think of it as the difference between “me” and “we.”

OneDrive is for your “me” documents

If the document you are working on is uniquely yours, then you should choose OneDrive. Ask yourself: “Do I need co-workers to collaborate with me on this document?” If the answer is no, then it’s a “me” document. Essentially, your OneDrive for Business is a cloud-based substitute for your computer’s My Documents folder. It is where you store all your work files. Because it’s in the cloud, every document or file you store in your OneDrive is available on not only your work laptop, but also on any personal tablet or smartphone you own. Even if you’re not online, OneDrive enables you to work on your “me” documents offline then synchronize them with your cloud storage as soon as you are online.

Staying close to its individualistic consumer roots, the OneDrive for Business document library does not allow users to create metadata, assign workflows, or easily share and collaborate on documents between multiple users. Remember, this is your “me” space so documents are private by default, unless stored in the Shared with Everyone folder. OneDrive for Business is made for your personal work documents.

OneDrive for Business allow for some limited collaboration, though. Say you’re an engineer and have a one-off FAQ document you’ve been asked to write but want a colleague to review it before you post it. In this case, you expect a colleague to use the document once without needing strict document version control and context. Not to get too ahead of ourselves, but version control is a key SharePoint strength.

SharePoint is for your “we” files

and is the opposite of OneDrive, SharePoint is for files containing shared information. Documents created for collaboration and are made available to all team members are “we” documents—and should be stored on SharePoint.

As previously stated, SharePoint is designed for web-based document management and collaboration. That’s why SharePoint Team Sites are ideal for enterprise content management. With a Team Site, members can create multiple lists and libraries to store their content as well as tag it with metadata and other contextual information to help aid in collaboration. This enables features which unavailable in OneDrive for Business, such as workflows, document version control, and more. Best of all, SharePoint’s enterprise-level collaboration features can be accessed from any web browser.

SharePoint Team Sites are often centrally administered and highly configurable. Depending on how the Site is set up, document sharing permissions and access is automatically assigned the moment you add a document to SharePoint. This means the appropriate team members have secure access to the files they need but can request access to other teams’ files when required. Administrators and users always know who “touched” the file last and, thanks to the cloud, can retrieve backup versions if a file is ever lost.

An important feature only available for SharePoint documents is the ability to create a check-in workflow. For example, you can upload a Microsoft Word document with a blog post to SharePoint then assign the document to someone else to add formatting. After the document is formatted, it can be assigned to a proofreader, and after the proofreader is done it can be assigned to another employee in the process. This level of “we” collaboration is exactly what SharePoint is made to do.

Getting the most out of cloud-based collaboration tools

Now that you have a better understanding of the use cases for OneDrive and SharePoint, we want to help you get the most out of them. Amaxra has SharePoint experts and is a certified Microsoft Gold Partner for Office 365 that can maximize your business’ potential.

Want to learn how we can help your teams collaborate more efficiently than ever before?

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