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Sharepoint vs. OneDrive: Which is Best for Your Business?

Posted by IES on Jan 19, 2017 8:00:00 AM

48440315_s.jpgMicrosoft has an extensive selection of cloud-based digital storage options. Two of the most popular of those options are Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft OneDrive.

Here’s the first and most important thing you need to understand about Microsoft SharePoint vs. OneDrive: They’re absolutely excellent at accomplishing different things.

Microsoft OneDrive is a robust cloud-based file storage system. SharePoint was created to allow multiple users to work together on a project. Both tools are useful for safely storing data off-site, but one is definitely better than the other when it comes to multi-site collaboration of tasks.

You might need both tools for your business. Or maybe, just one of the two.

Let’s review some important points of differentiation between Microsoft SharePoint vs. OneDrive so you can decide which one bests suits the needs of you and your business.

OneDrive = One Key Function 

While OneDrive is a free service for personal file storage, OneDrive for Business is a key part of the Microsoft Office 365 Suite. It was designed for companies concerned with safely storing their most mission-critical data.

You can store all kinds of files in this secure cloud-portal, including videos, pictures, graphics, music, or any other documents. It is very easy to set up and use. 

While OneDrive can mimic some of the file sharing functions of SharePoint, that isn’t really what it was designed to accomplish. Here are some ideas for how to leverage OneDrive in the most effective way:

  • Files stored on OneDrive default to private unless you designate them as shared. For this reason, OneDrive might be a good place to house human resource documentation or other sensitive information.
  • Or, you might use OneDrive to hold drafts or temporary files that will eventually morph into the final copy. You don't want the drafts to get confused with the final, so you can put them in OneDrive without sharing them publicly.
  • If you can’t figure out where a file is supposed to go, OneDrive makes a convenient, private “holding tank” for important documents that haven’t found a public or permanent home yet.

When you think of it another way, the “one” in OneDrive is for one person – you. It’s perfect as a private storage place that you can access from any digital device. If you log in on a cell phone and make an edit to a document, these changes sync across all your devices. Simply logging on to Office 365 gets you to your “private place” where files are stored.

No business should use a personal OneDrive account, which ties files to one person. When a company owns files and needs a place to share them across the enterprise, SharePoint is a more robust solution.

Who Put the ‘Share’ in Sharepoint?

As the name implies, Microsoft SharePoint is all about business collaboration. Whereas OneDrive was really designed to house private files, SharePoint is the place to invite colleagues to work together toward an end goal. 

Working on a SharePoint file is very useful for editing in real time, with multiple users working simultaneously on one project or document. It’s a great workflow tool.

In today’s multi-location work environment, you need a hub to bring all the disparate parts of your organization together. SharePoint serves as a business Intranet – an internal portal for office communications and document collaboration.

You can log in and work on a document, and then pass your version on to the next collaborator, all virtually, and with an audit trail. SharePoint is one-part data storage and one-part project manager, allowing multiple parties to join together to create one end result.

Microsoft SharePoint vs. OneDrive Comparison 

SharePoint has some of the features of OneDrive, but this shouldn't imply vice versa functionality. Think of OneDrive like a big file drawer on the Internet. The file drawer has a key with your name on it and you have the ability to share files, or not, as you see fit. There is no real customization; OneDrive offers out-of-the-box file storage without a lot of frills.

SharePoint is like a big, open table, with files spread out and accessible to everyone in the room. So, one person can grab a file, make edits, and then hand it off like a baton in a road race.

SharePoint can hold files, just like OneDrive does, but it’s not only designed to do more, the layout and functionality are unique:

  • SharePoint is a customizable corporate Intranet that allows you to set up a company-branded portal where employees can log in and receive messages designed for the entire workforce.
  • From there, they can navigate to a subpage for a particular project (or their own page of distinct tasks), where they'll find all the documents needed to complete the overall project. That subpage can also have a project-specific message relevant to the entire workgroup.
  • SharePoint will let you automate workflows. For example, if someone edits a particular document, you can program an email to notify all the members of the team. Once a document is complete, it can be automatically sent up the chain of command for approval – or whatever the next step in your workflow may be.
  • SharePoint also has a calendar feature that is unique to the project portal, so you can keep track of project-specific deadlines. You can also see individual availability for scheduling.

Which One Do I Need?

Here are a few scenarios that will help you decide between Microsoft SharePoint vs. OneDrive.

You’re documenting something private that you don’t want to share with anyone else at the office.

Go with OneDrive. It’s private, safe, and secure.


You’ve got a whole team working on a project together.

That’s easy. Use SharePoint to get everyone organized and on the same page.


You might ask one other person to review your document before you send it to the boss.

Use OneDrive – SharePoint is overkill.


You work in a small business and need a way to communicate one message to the entire company.

SharePoint is a great way to communicate contact lists, daily project updates, and general up-to-the-minute messages to a group of employees. The dashboard or corporate portal for the Intranet site is customizable. You can use it to motivate employees, or set up a workflow that sends a text to the team whenever a specific change to the site occurs. 

You can use SharePoint to communicate sales goals to an entire team while tracking your progress to quota. You could also use it to post pictures of the company picnic. You could even relay regional data to a mobile workforce. SharePoint functionality ensures you’re only limited by your goals and imagination.


You’re working on a blog and you want your boss to edit it before the post goes live on your website.

Generally, if the document will be tossed after go-live, or if you’re only sharing with one or two people, OneDrive could work just fine.


You’ve started a new document, but you realize you’re going to need help from a number of people across the organization.

At that point, it may make sense to move your private document from OneDrive to take advantage of the more collaborative SharePoint functions.

Here’s the bottom line for deciding if your business needs SharePoint vs. OneDrive: Ask yourself, “Who owns this file?” If it’s more than one person, it should probably go on SharePoint.

But should a business consider using both applications?


Integrating SharePoint and OneDrive

When you need the best of both tools, Microsoft SharePoint and OneDrive can be fully integrated into your business. Beginning in late 2016, new functionality allowed fuller interoperability between the two platforms.

New features:

  • Copy files from OneDrive to SharePoint.
  • Sync SharePoint documents with OneDrive folders.
  • OneDrive added a hub where you can view the most recent file activity.
  • The ability to .zip and download files.
  • Android phones have a scanning feature that allows you to take a photo, convert it to a PDF, and upload it to OneDrive. With a 2017 upgrade, you’ll be able to add multiple pictures within the PDF – and they’ve promised this feature for iOS.
  • New iOS and Android notification when a file is shared from OneDrive. You can even open the file from the preview – on your phone.

The latest release of Microsoft SharePoint and OneDrive for 2017 includes better integration with Office 2016 and a dedicated admin portal in Office 365. Microsoft promised – and delivered a seamless sync across all Office 365, OneDrive, and SharePoint files. The release of these upgrades is scheduled for first quarter this year.

Even better, Microsoft has done a nice job integrating OneDrive with Office Online, whether you’re on a Mac or a PC. While staying in OneDrive, you can preview Adobe files, photos, and stream video – even in high resolution. 

The goal of Microsoft, as they roll out these upgrades, is for the end user to have a seamless experience across all their products. Their target is to be the one-stop-shop for file creation, storage, and sharing, along with providing their always-excellent Office tools.

To learn more about these two storage options and figure out which one best suits your needs, contact the experts at IES today.

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