Understanding the Key Differences Between Microsoft’s OneDrive and SharePoint Applications

Sharepoint vs. Onedrive

Microsoft’s collection of software is continually evolving. As it continues to grow, many users are noticing quite a bit of overlap between application capabilities. For business owners, this can be a challenge – especially when trying to decide which apps are worth investing in.

Two Microsoft apps that are especially hard to differentiate are OneDrive and SharePoint. The simple fact is that both apps have a lot in common and are stocked with very similar features. However, they aren’t identical and understanding the key differences can help business owners make more informed decisions when choosing an application to invest in and deploy.

Breaking Down the Basics: How Microsoft Defines OneDrive and SharePoint

In order to get a lay of the land, it’s helpful to try and understand the purpose of each application. While they do have some overlap, the applications were created separately and Microsoft defines the purpose and features of each application differently.

  • OneDrive: Microsoft defines OneDrive as an online document/file storage hub. It’s most commonly used by both individuals and business teams looking for a centralized headquarters to access, save and store files. OneDrive is also configured to allow file-sharing and versioning, which allows it to serve as more than a digital filing cabinet. Additionally, Microsoft has two versions of the OneDrive app – one for individual consumers and one specifically designed for business optimization, adequately named OneDrive for Business. OneDrive is also built into the Office 365 online platform.
  • SharePoint: Microsoft defines SharePoint as a collaboration tool for businesses that helps team members work better together. SharePoint allows business teams to open, share and access files and allows team members to work on the same document, together, in real-time. SharePoint also allows for process streamlining and has data and app management tools. Microsoft has an on-premise version of SharePoint as well as a version that’s built into Office 365 for the Cloud.

Confused Yet? Let’s Explore the Key Categories of Difference

Simply reading the definitions isn’t enough to fully wrap our brains around the differences between OneDrive and SharePoint and the benefits of each for business owners. By looking at the key areas where OneDrive and SharePoint are different, business owners will have an easier time making decisions about software investments.

On-Premise vs. Cloud

Here’s the thing: Microsoft’s Office 365 comes with both OneDrive and SharePoint built in. This leaves many wondering – what’s the point in investing in standalone solutions like SharePoint Server if you can just invest in Office 365 and get the same features plus way more? But we shouldn’t jump to that conclusion quite so fast. Some IT administrators prefer on-premise solutions because the locally installed software allows for more control and security. On-premise SharePoint deployments on company servers allow administrators to control the look and feel of the platform.

However, there are downfalls to on-premise deployments as well. Implementing SharePoint on company servers means administrators are in charge of purchasing and managing updates, monitoring systems, and responding to security breaches. It should also be noted that businesses who choose to deploy SharePoint as a stand-alone, on-premise solution are able to purchase OneDrive separately, although all its features are already built-into SharePoint.

Security, Encryption & Compliance

For many business owners, document safety, auditing, and regulatory compliance are huge concerns. For these business owners, SharePoint’s collection of granular controls and user access capabilities are a huge benefit when trying control internal security and client data. While Office 365 and OneDrive both use encryption to keep documents safe from prying eyes, SharePoint is the only solution that offers an additional layer of security provided by a standalone server.

However, OneDrive in Office 365 does offer granular access control as well, so administrators can designate access and assign user permissions. Microsoft’s cloud security is top of the line and supports TLS and SHA-2 protocols. In the Cloud, Microsoft encrypts all business data upon transfer to and from server locations and stores it, with encryption, on the Microsoft server as well.

Document and Resource Management

OneDrive for Business has all of the original document offerings as SharePoint. This includes workflows, auditing, templates and version control. However, OneDrive does not include business marketing tools like a website and social media connections – features that are built into the SharePoint infrastructure. With OneDrive, a business owns the account and employees are assigned personal accounts within the larger business account. This allows individual team members to produce and store documents before they are shared office-wide.

SharePoint offers a huge collection of tools for company-wide document and file management and collaboration. SharePoint Online and SharePoint Server offer collaborative workflows and advanced granular permissions to help businesses effectively and efficiently move content from idea to completion. Furthermore, as noted, business marketing is made easy in SharePoint Server with a variety of features to ensure intranet corresponds with branding. These branding tools are not featured in the online version.

Website, Apps & CMS

SharePoint is used by countless companies to develop, manage, and maintain their company website, internal documentation system, and company web applications. The CMS element in SharePoint allows businesses to publish documents directly to the company website or even make them centrally available for review and download by clients, associates and team members.

Companies also rely on SharePoint’s business intelligence and internal analytics features to develop custom applications for both internal and external use. Companies can build customer-facing websites, FAQ & Help applications or employee portals directly from the SharePoint infrastructure.

OneDrive simply doesn’t offer these various web optimization features. While OneDrive offers the ability to email links to documents, the documents cannot be published directly to the web from OneDrive’s infrastructure. So, while documents can be made available to your team with OneDrive, a full Office 365 subscription or another CMS/website platform – like SharePoint – is required to publish work straight to the web.

Workflows, Dashboards, Calendars, and Extras

One Drive offers companies the ability to control team access to documents for storage and sharing and it tracks versions. However, when it comes down to it, OneDrive is essentially a digital-file storage and optimization system and does not include the dynamic extra features available in SharePoint Server or through a full out Office 365 subscription.

SharePoint offers business teams a dynamically collaborative workspace that includes dashboards, calendars, tasks, notifications, and updates. SharePoint keeps these features located centrally, in a company portal that is linked directly to company websites and external applications. Additionally, SharePoint sites can be created and customized for each team member with different levels of security, so access and information are well-organized and easy to manage. Finally, companies can set up a larger corporate portal where company-wide file libraries can be searched and business notifications can be delivered in real-time.

The Short Answer is, There is No Right Answer   

So, when it comes down to it, it becomes clear that OneDrive for Business and SharePoint are not exactly the same, yet not entirely different. The real differences are determined by the way a company decides to deploy and use SharePoint. For organizations looking for a company portal that offers project management, human resources tools, and web optimization, SharePoint is the clear winner.

OneDrive is more suited for companies looking to implement a basic solution for storage and occasional file-sharing capabilities. Since OneDrive is fully integrated with the Cloud through Office 365, business teams have the ability to sync files to any given device, which make anytime, anywhere access incredibly easy.

Overall, the best software solution for any business is one that supports business goals and inspires team members to be productive. For companies who have acclimated to the Cloud, an Office 365 subscription will give you the best of both worlds – not to mention Microsoft will handle your updates. However, for companies who are comfortable offline, using on-premise solutions, SharePoint offers branding tools and user interface control that Office 365 doesn’t.

Is your company trying to weigh the similarities and differences between SharePoint and OneDrive? Use this outline as a guide and be sure to make a strategic decision based on the unique needs and demands of your corporate structure.

If you’re still having a hard time deciding between the two solutions, reach out to a local technology firm for guidance and consultation. When making investment decisions about business IT, it’s never a bad idea to bounce ideas off the pros.

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