It looks like OneDrive and SharePoint are essentially the same program; they both just act as a repository to store my files. Right?

-Anonymous

 

Well, Anonymous this is a great question, and one that is completely understandable. On the surface, yes, it does appear that both programs are little more than cloud services on which you can store your files and documents. But after lifting the hood and taking a peek at what’s underneath, the differences become clear. OneDrive holds your documents and keeps them private, SharePoint is meant to be a place where shared documents are kept.

OneDrive and SharePoint are both cloud-based file storage programs; great for easily accessing files and alleviating the worry of available space on your hard drive. The only thing you do need to worry about is remembering your (so-strong-that-no-cyber-criminal-could-hack) password to log in. Then, poof, just like that you’re in and all of your files are there safe and sound. A major advantage of both of these programs is the ease of access across devices; you can access a Word document created on your laptop from your tablet via the OneDrive or SharePoint app.

The main difference between the two programs is document accessibility; you can think of SharePoint as the office fridge: snacks for everyone, freely available! OneDrive however is someone’s Tupperware dish that’s clearly labeled with their name: sorry bud, get your own sandwich. It’s possible for someone to grant you access to their Tupperware/Word Document by sharing that file directly with you, but without that, you can’t access anything in their OneDrive.

SharePoint allows for easy collaboration between teams. It’s quite a robust program with multiple applications, but for our purposes here today; we’ll talk about it in terms of file sharing. SharePoint is hugely advantageous when you need to work on a project with other departments, or even just to create a space to share files with your team; a file stored on SharePoint can be accessed and edited by anyone who is a part of that SharePoint site. So let’s say, for instance, that your marketing department is working on an external event and they need to share an Excel spreadsheet with the sales team so that everyone is up to date on who has RSVPed to the event; this is a great use case for SharePoint. The marketers are able to update the RSVPs that they get through social channels, whereas the salespeople can simultaneously add any attendees they’ve confirmed of their own. The file dynamically updates so that everyone can see the latest version with the most recent changes. All you need to do is set up permissions to allow certain people access.

OneDrive is all about file storage but instead of being designed for collaboration, its purpose is to allow each person their own private file storage. Of course, you can grant access to others when needed and this is a functionality that’s been baked into the software (which means it’s very easy to do). The file however, will remain in your OneDrive and you can revoke access if necessary. Files created in OneDrive will, by default, be set to private unless you manually change the permissions.

So really, if we take a step back, it’s easy to remember the differences between the programs just by their names. Use SharePoint if you’re working collaboratively on a project that needs to be shared across teammates, and OneDrive if you’re the only one that needs access. Does your fellow sales rep, Francis, need to see the Excel list of forecasted sales? Yeah, she probably does, so it’s best to store that file in SharePoint. But does she need to see your Word  document with your dog’s feeding log from the past four months? No, probably not. Best to keep that file locked away in your OneDrive.