picture of a laptop with Microsoft OneDrive open next to sharepoint and OneDrive icons, the difference between the two platforms
Microsoft 365

Uncovering the Differences: SharePoint vs OneDrive

Explore the key differences between Microsoft SharePoint and OneDrive. Learn how these cloud storage options can help you collaborate and manage files more effectively.

SharePoint vs OneDrive file storage in Microsoft 365

Have you ever been stuck working out the difference between OneDrive and SharePoint? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

In Microsoft 365, you have two main places to store files – SharePoint and OneDrive. SharePoint and OneDrive are cloud-based solutions for team collaboration and file storage in Microsoft 365. Both offer similar functionality, but they're targeted at different audiences: SharePoint is best for teams, while OneDrive is a personal tool.

In this article, we'll explore the differences between these two popular platforms so you can decide, which one best suits your businesses needs and uncover the use cases for each platform. Let’s jump in!

SharePoint

SharePoint is well-suited for content collaboration and business process automation, especially for teams and working groups. It offers a platform that enables team members to share files and information, as well as engage in discussions on the same documents.

SharePoint can also be used as a content management system to store, manage and share documents across your organisation.

SharePoint provides tools that allow you to automate business processes between people or between people and systems. You can set up automated workflow rules that trigger actions when certain conditions occur (for example: a file has been added to a specific folder) or when new records are created (such as sending an alert email), saving time by automating repetitive tasks instead of having someone manually perform them each time they happen.

SharePoint can be used to store documents in team sites or as an intranet platform

SharePoint is a great tool for document management, especially for teams and working groups.  

SharePoint is like your filing room. Your place for content collaboration across employees, team and departments. SharePoint is best used in two ways: collaborating on files with others and for publishing files for everyone in your business to access.  

Beyond file storage SharePoint enables you to share and manage content, news, knowledge and quickly find information within your organisation. A key differentiation for SharePoint is that it allows you to create intelligent intranets and digital workplaces which consist of pages, lists, and a platform for business apps, all which can be shared and used by teams within your Microsoft 365 ecosystem.  

If you want to share a document as soon as it’s created so your team people can collaborate and review it – SharePoint is the right choice for you.

SharePoint offers the following features

  • SharePoint sites are a collection of web pages, lists, libraries and other content. A single SharePoint website can contain many team sites
  • You can also use it to organise and share files with your team for collaboration or publishing in different locations
  • With its powerful security feature, you’ll be able to control who has access to what resources
  • Themes and design elements that are used in SharePoint. They allow you to control how your site looks on different devices and browsers
  • You can streamline business processes, such as leave requests, notifications and approvals
  • SharePoint allows you to create business efficiencies using SharePoint lists and libraries or integrated apps such as Power Automate, and Power Apps

SharePoint – Use Cases

SharePoint can be used to collaborate and communicate in either Team or Communication Sites. Here are some of the key areas where SharePoint excels for each type of site:

Teams Site

  • Team’s 'stuff' for getting work done
  • Smaller groups of employees, who all have edit permissions to files. You’re all collaborating as a smaller group, so permission restrictions are not needed
  • Teams and Group sites
  • File location or file tab behind Microsoft 365 groups in Microsoft Teams
  • Team Sites are best suited for a discrete group or people or unit of work
  • Editing and collaborative digital workspaces
  • Use Team Sites instead of share drives, private spaces or email attachments for optimal collaboration as a group

Communication Site

  • Everyone’s 'stuff' (accessible to everyone)
  • Larger groups of people, usually read-only permission for most users
  • Publishing sites
  • Most intranet sites. Communication sites are great way to let everyone know what's going on with your team
  • Official business or corporate news  
  • Information to push out to the business in a ‘Read’ or ‘Reference’ capacity
  • Intranet pages or team employee-facing sites
  • Use Communication Sites to broadcast information to the rest of the business, for centralised communication, policies, documentation and finding self-serve information

Further reading: SharePoint Intranet Design Examples To Get You Inspired

OneDrive

OneDrive is for files that are personal to you.

OneDrive for Business is Microsoft's cloud storage solution that provides file sharing and collaboration capabilities.

OneDrive is like your desk, your personal filing inbox or document library built into Microsoft 365, not intended for team collaboration or large projects. It's an ideal place to store important business files, individual project documents, and even family photos.

With each user getting access to their own OneDrive account, OneDrive is ideal for private documents or initial drafts before they’re ready for to be shared.  

OneDrive the private workspace to get things done

OneDrive has one library to store your files called ‘My Files’. In My Files you can create folders, files and upload documents to your private workspace. OneDrive functions as your private workplace, with everything marked as private unless you want it to be shared.  

OneDrive also gives you complete visibility of how your private files have been shared. Easily manage access to the files you’ve shared with others in your business by simply clicking ‘Stop Sharing’ to make a document private again.  

OneDrive offers the following features

  • You can use it to store your files in the cloud so you can access them from any device with an internet connection
  • You can share your private files with others to collaborate on them together (with either people inside or outside of your organisation)
  • You can add comments to shared documents, so everyone knows what has been worked on by who within your team or business

OneDrive – Use Cases

  • To access your files like a traditional ‘my documents’ structure
  • Store documents and information on the cloud rather than a local desktop
  • If you’re working on a file by yourself that you’re not ready to share with others in your team or business, save it to OneDrive
  • If you’re working as a team, save your files in the relevant SharePoint team site and then sync to your OneDrive to access in your file explorer

If you prefer to work privately on your documents, then share it with your team at a later stage when you’re ready – then OneDrive drive is the place to do that.

Summary

Conclusion

The key difference between SharePoint and OneDrive is that SharePoint allows for sharing of information, as well as creating a central place for your teams to work and collaborate. OneDrive is more focused on storing files, sharing them with others via email or other methods. Both are cloud-based services offered by Microsoft and can be used within your 365 subscriptions. However, they have different uses depending on your individual use cases and business needs.

Looking for support with SharePoint or OneDrive?

Want to ensure your business is engaging in best practice implementation when it comes to SharePoint and OneDrive? Speaking to a Sope Consultant may be what you need. To find out more, contact us today.

About Sope

We supercharge businesses using Microsoft 365 and SharePoint to help people work better together. As a certified Gold Microsoft Partner, we deliver powerful digital workplaces and intranet solutions that boost productivity, improve collaboration, and reduce costs. Our approach has always been simple. It happens with our "Store once, publish everywhere" mantra. This is what Sope stands for and what motivates us every day.

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