The Key Differences Between SharePoint and OneDrive

The move to cloud computing has been rapid in recent years. Undoubtedly, this is convenient and has facilitated the rapid increase in the number of people working remotely. But the plethora of available tools has left plenty of scope for confusion.  Two tools that are frequently confused are both Microsoft offerings. SharePoint and OneDrive both perform similar functions. Indeed, they are often used alongside each other.

The Key Differences Between SharePoint and OneDrive

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But just what are the key differences between SharePoint and OneDrive? And Which should I use? Or do I even need to use both OneDrive and Sharepoint? In this guide, we take a deep into the differences between OneDrive and SharePoint. To begin with, let’s take a quick look at each tool and how it works.

What is Microsoft SharePoint?

A Brief Description of SharePoint could be – Microsoft SharePoint is a business application that uses intranet-based web interfaces to allow users to access tools. These tools are designed to enable cloud computing, remote working, and team collaboration.

SharePoint is part of the Microsoft Office 365 suite. There are two main versions of the platform available: 

  • SharePoint Online – For organizations that want to enable remote access for their employees and teams, then SharePoint Online is the required version. This allows remote users access to data, reports, documents, and other content from any device with an internet connection and browser.
  • SharePoint On-Premise – If a company wants or needs to keep its data in-house, then this version runs on an internal intranet that cannot be accessed remotely.

SharePoint is a diverse and versatile tool that has many capabilities. The main features of Sharepoint are listed below: 

Main Features of Microsoft SharePoint

Microsoft developed SharePoint as a platform that enables effortless collaboration and content management. Over the years, it has continued to add features and functionality.

The latest version offers a host of features: 

Easy Folder Sharing:

The ability to easily share files and folders is one of the main features and also one of the “cross-over” points when comparing SharePoint with OneDrive. Both platforms allow easy file sharing, it is the approach taken where the two platforms differ. This will be covered in more detail further down.

As well as facilitating easy folder sharing, users can also set viewing permissions and invite others to participate.

Easily Navigate Document Libraries:

SharePoint has several innovative procedures to help navigate document libraries. These include:

  • Page Landmarks
  • Improved callout readings
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Updates on upload progress and help documentation

Collaboration is Simplified:

The collaboration tools within SharePoint break down geographical barriers. Because anyone with an internet connection and a compatible device (mobile, laptop, etc.) can access SharePoint, collaboration is quick and seamless.

Integration with Office 365:

SharePoint is designed to work effortlessly with other Microsoft software. Most notable is how it pairs seamlessly with the Office 365 suite, including: 

  • OneDrive
  • Word
  • Excel
  • Access
  • Outlook
  • Powerpoint

Highly Customisable:

An innovative and intuitive design makes it easy to create highly-customized SharePoint sites. It is these “team” sites that are the heart of the system. Microsoft has made it easy to customize every element of the “team” websites.

Enhanced Security:

Security is always a major concern. This is more true for cloud-based systems. Microsoft has integrated security at every level of the system to prevent data from falling into the wrong hands. Authentication is required, but within the system, parameters like shareability, storage control, and auditing can all be configured.

What is Microsoft OneDrive?

OneDrive has some of the abilities of SharePoint, but in essence, it is a far simpler tool. Put simply, OneDrive is a file-sharing and storing system that allows users to upload files to the cloud.

One of the best features of OneDrive is its sheer availability. Anyone with a Microsoft Account (which is free) can use OneDrive. There are different amounts of storage available to users. These are described below and are correct at the time of writing: 

  • Microsoft Account Only– Anyone with a free Microsoft account is entitled to 5GB of free storage.
  • Extra Storage Option – For $2 per month, the amount of storage can be upgraded to 50GB.
  • Office 365 Subscribers – Anyone that subscribes to Microsoft’s Office 365 suite of programs is entitled to 1 TB of OneDrive storage.

Regardless of the package you choose, there are also plenty of options to further upgrade your storage. There are also various levels of business subscriptions available.

One of the other advantages of OneDrive is the fact that it can be accessed directly from a file explorer window. For less advanced users, this means there is no additional software to master, and stored files are available from a familiar environment.

Main Features of Microsoft OneDrive

The differences between the two platforms should be becoming apparent by now. SharePoint is more than just a file storage and sharing platform. For starters, it can have OneDrive integrated as part of its service. Whereas, OneDrive is a simpler platform that doesn’t pretend to be an “all-encompassing” collaboration tool.

This is more apparent when we consider the main features of OneDrive: 

Storage:

It is impossible to discuss the main features of OneDrive without mentioning storage. Offering cloud-based storage is, in effect, OneDrive’s bread and butter. With 5 GB for free memberships, it is a service that anyone can use.

Accessibility:

Because the storage is cloud-based the content of your OneDrive can be accessed from anywhere. How SharePoint and OneDrive provide access to stored files is another of the key differences.

Integration with Applications:

OneDrive easily integrates with other software. In particular, its integration with other Microsoft software, such as Office, Teams, and – of course – SharePoint, is entirely seamless.

Mobile App:

Although you can log into your Microsoft account and access your data from any capable device, there is a OneDrive app that makes access from mobile devices super-easy.

Examining The Key Differences Between SharePoint and OneDrive

When discussing the main features of each platform, many of the major differences between OneDrive and SharePoint are immediately apparent. But is that the whole story?

In this section, I break down the fundamental differences between OneDrive and SharePoint.

Storage:

In very simple terms, the way storage is used in the two platforms defines the main difference here. OneDrive is usually (but not exclusively) used for personal storage. SharePoint is more of a “collaborative” storage system.

Many users will use OneDrive to store files that are not ready to be shared with the organization, whereas SharePoint files are usually there to be shared!

There is an easy way to remember this key difference – The clue is in the name, the “One” in OneDrive refers to the individual, whereas the “Share” in SharePoint means the files are shared for collaboration.

Intranet:

OneDrive could be described as a cloud storage solution with some bells and whistles attached. Okay, this probably isn’t entirely fair, it is a powerful tool in its own right. But when compared to SharePoint and the latter’s ability to create an entire Intranet, OneDrive can look a little limited.

SharePoint allows users to create entire Intranets within organizations. These can be customized to meet the needs of separate teams within these organizations. Some examples of where separate Intranets can be used include: 

HR and Payroll:

The data held and shared within HR and payroll teams can be shielded by only being available in a specific HR intranet.

Training Materials:

One commonly utilized Intranet is a training site. This easily standardizes the training procedures across organizations and simplifies the process of onboarding new staff and team members.

Project Management:

Individual projects can benefit from a dedicated intranet that is focused on their particular needs.

Remote Access:

Both platforms offer remote access to files. The major difference is how the files are accessed.

Let’s start with OneDrive. While it is possible to log into your Microsoft account and access your files through a browser, this isn’t how most people do it.

OneDrive files are most frequently accessed through a file explorer window. Most likely, this will be from a Windows computer. The other main way files are accessed is through the OneDrive app.

By comparison, files accessed through SharePoint will be accessed using a browser by default. Once again, this is down to the “Intranet Architecture” that underpins the platform.

Collaboration Tools:

When it comes to collaboration tools, OneDrive has limited functionality. While it does allow users to share files and collaborate by tracking versions etc., this is about as far as it goes.

On the other hand, SharePoint is full of collaboration tools. These include: 

  • Calendars
  • Tasks
  • Updates
  • Notifications

Which is Best for Me – Onedrive or Sharepoint?

Ultimately, when armed with the appropriate information, this is a simple question to address. If all you require is to collaborate with colleagues and partners on a few files, then OneDrive is a simple and cost-effective option. (Even the basic package has 5 GB of storage)

However, for users that want to facilitate remote working and even smooth internal working procedures, then SharePoint, with all its built-in tools and functions, is the better option.

Summing Up

The way we work and where we work has changed forever. As we make the transition to a more remote workforce, the importance of tools like SharePoint and OneDrive is going to grow exponentially.

Understanding the features and differences between tools like OneDrive and SharePoint is key to making an informed decision when choosing the right solution. We hope that this article has helped by describing the key differences between OneDrive and SharePoint.