When to Use OneDrive vs SharePoint


SharePoint and OneDrive for Business are each great options when it comes to file-sharing software. Both are fully integrated into the Microsoft® 365 ecosystem for easy collaboration and allow users to store, share and synchronize files across locations and devices. While they have many similarities, they also offer distinct differences. OneDrive vs SharePoint: which is the best option for your company? Can these applications be used interchangeably? Should we use them both?

These are questions raised in almost every organization.

Let’s explore how each of these applications operate and delve into some of their most common use cases.

The Similarities between OneDrive vs SharePoint

SharePoint and OneDrive both come fully integrated into the M365 environment. Each application stores files in the cloud and utilizes Microsoft’s data center infrastructure to securely store and move your files. As part of Microsoft 365, each application allows users to access their files from anywhere with internet access. Both can allow for access by other users to facilitate collaboration within a team. At their core, the two applications appear to serve very similar functions.

Common Features:

  • Cloud storage: Both offer cloud storage via Microsoft cloud space environment, meaning data is securely stored in Microsoft’s geo-redundant network of data centers.
  • Security: Both options enjoy the same enterprise level of security (SSL/TLS connection) guaranteed by Microsoft for all its M365 applications.
  • Global access: As part of the cloud-based M365 suite, SharePoint and OneDrive are accessible from virtually anywhere connected to the Internet.
  • Syncing to local storage: Both options offer the ability to sync to a local drive, either manually or via automation.

The Differences Between OneDrive vs SharePoint

While SharePoint and OneDrive share several characteristics, they also contain several distinct features that allow for significant differences in their usage.

The fundamental difference between SharePoint and OneDrive is the type of file being stored. OneDrive is primarily used for the storage of personal files. These could be early drafts, incomplete projects, or files that contain confidential information. By default, these files will be accessible only via an individual’s account. One does have the ability to make them available to share with select individuals at any point. Still, this permission needs to be given by the user before any others in the organization can access them. Collaboration can be easily accomplished within a team via OneDrive, but it will usually be on a more intentionally narrow scope.

SharePoint is Microsoft’s original workspace, designed for collaboration and productivity. Files placed here will immediately be accessible by an entire team. It is a content management system whose scope can range from small teams to an entire company and even those outside the organization. Accessibility to others is not just a feature of SharePoint; it is the goal. SharePoint is where content created within Teams and Outlook is stored. Users can see what other team members have opened and if anyone has updated a file. Team members can also easily track changes and quickly revert to previous versions of any file.

SharePoint has another unique aspect that differentiates it from OneDrive, the ability to create a modern intranet. This feature allows an organization to create a site that can only be accessed by its employees or on more minor scales to include select members of a particular team.

Common Organizational Intranet Uses:

  • Human Resources (onboarding, payroll, benefits, etc.)
  • Training
  • DevOps
  • Organizational specific applications

Determining Factors for Your Organization

Most organizations will decide on using both in some capacity. But for an individual or team choosing where they should store specific files, the answer will be determined by a few key aspects.

Purpose of the File ­­— Determining the purpose of the file will go a long way in deciding whether to use SharePoint or OneDrive. Why is the file being produced, and who needs to see it? The intended audience is critical. Is this meant to be viewed company-wide or sent confidentially to a customer?

Who is Working on the Project — Is the file produced by an individual, or is this a team project? A single user working independently on a project may choose to store the files in OneDrive until they are ready to be more widely dispersed. Files involving many users, or ones that require input from multiple sources, will be a more natural fit for the features found within SharePoint.

Workflow of the Team — Files should be saved according to how and where a team works! Ultimately, determining which application will be the most effective likely comes down to what team members are willing to use. SharePoint, in particular, requires a high level of buy-in from an organization and its teams to be effective. If all team members follow consistent procedures of uploading files to and editing documents within SharePoint, seamless collaboration can occur.

The Choice: Probably Both

Both SharePoint and OneDrive are robust cloud-based collaboration and storage solutions. OneDrive is a personal file storage solution where the individual to whom the drive belongs manages access. The user decides both the when and what of file sharing. Organizations use SharePoint for many purposes, from file storage to enabling intranet portals, pages and business applications.

In the end, it is impossible to say that one of these applications is better than another. It is more about an organization assessing their needs and workflow practices to determine where SharePoint or OneDrive will be most effective. Both, when used effectively, whether independently or in conjunction, are extremely powerful and productive collaborative tools.

OneNeck Has Your Back!

Need more information on SharePoint, OneDrive or any of the collaborative tools found in Microsoft 365? OneNeck can help. We are a Gold Certified Microsoft partner, and our expert team is here to help you choose, implement and optimize the right-fit M365 subscription plan for your business. We’ll help your organization thrive in the Modern Workplace with a secure, cost-effective solution that allows your team to be productive from anywhere!

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