OneDrive vs SharePoint: differences and similarities

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When sharing documents and collaborating with team members online, it can be helpful to store files in a digital cloud. There are different software platforms you can use to do this, two options being OneDrive and SharePoint. Both platforms have common characteristics and some key differences which might lead you to choose one over the other. In this article, we discuss OneDrive vs SharePoint, the differences and similarities between the features they offer and what to look for when choosing an option.

OneDrive vs SharePoint

Both OneDrive and SharePoint are software options offered by Microsoft that allow you to upload documents and collaborate on them digitally. Although there are similarities and differences between them, OneDrive is primarily an online folder system for storing personal files. It is a good option for working on personal projects and tasks that don't require a lot of collaboration with others.

SharePoint is more of a collaborative tool and offers additional features, such as dashboards and a content management system. It can be a solution when you have projects or tasks that require input from multiple teams. SharePoint also offers a communication tool that can help enhance culture and engagement. When looking at OneDrive vs SharePoint, it can be helpful to keep in mind the purpose of using the platform and what might be particularly useful features for you.

Key similarities

Here are some similarities between OneDrive and SharePoint:

Strong security

Both OneDrive and SharePoint have Microsoft security features that encrypt your data to prevent unauthorised access or sharing. This means that only people you permit to see a file can view it and you can choose who to share it with, such as contractors or remote employees. Encrypting files makes it easy to revert to previous versions if you accidentally delete them or want to check historical information. OneDrive and SharePoint both have compliance features that can help you work within regulatory requirements.

In particular, SharePoint has strong control access that ensures users can only see what they have access to. You can segment and organise files this way, which can protect you from a breach of security and easily quarantine any malicious files. OneDrive offers single-user accounts, so the security is not as strong when compared to SharePoint. The granular access of both means you can allocate permissions per user. This is good if you work with external stakeholders and with confidential information.

File management

Both OneDrive and SharePoint have strong file management features, including templates, version control, organising files and workflows. You can put files into folders and logically organise content by creating sub-folders within the main folders. There is also the option to share and email files if someone external requires access to them. Organising and sharing files in a digital space can help you keep track of documents, restore previous or deleted versions, keep secure information confidential and make it easy for employees to quickly find what they are looking for.

Global access

Users can access files and data stored in both SharePoint and OneDrive from anywhere they have a network connection. This can be particularly useful for companies who have remote employees, as it gives them easy access to what they need. Users can also access the information from multiple devices, such as their phones and computers.

Related: How to search for remote work on Indeed

Cloud storage

As Microsoft owns both SharePoint and OneDrive, Microsoft's cloud space stores all data from both platforms. It means your documents are within Microsoft's datacentres, rather than being locally stored on your phone or computer. This can be helpful if one of your devices breaks, as storing documents in Microsoft's cloud means they won't go missing. Datacentres are services that securely contain data from multiple customers which employees all over the world can access if they have an Internet connection.

Key differences

Here are some of the key differences between OneDrive and SharePoint:

Creating an Intranet

Unlike OneDrive, a company can use SharePoint to create an Intranet. This is an internal webpage system that only employees receive access to. Companies can use it to present important information, such as HR policies, security updates and company-wide messages. Employees can access the Intranet by logging in with their work email address and password. It can also be a good place to store training materials, especially if the company uses other platforms and software created by Microsoft as they can sync with the Intranet.

The Intranet can also help build a team culture and ensure that all employees have access to the information they require to complete their tasks. For example, when employees start working on a new project, they can access useful materials stored on the Intranet. It may also speed up communication between team members, as they can begin working without waiting on emails containing the information they need.

Related: Why is communication important? (And how to improve it)

Different types of storage

Both SharePoint and OneDrive offer the storage of files and digital data in the cloud, but there are key differences between the types of storage. OneDrive offers storage for your personal data. It is where you can upload files that you don't want other people in the company to view and edit. If you're working on a confidential document or putting together slides that aren't yet finished, you might consider storing it on OneDrive. It can remain private unless you choose to share it with other people.

Alternatively, SharePoint is where you might upload documents that you work on collaboratively with other employees. Here you can store files that link to a project that requires edits and contributions from several different colleagues. Storing them in SharePoint gives people access to view and edit if you have set the permissions to allow them to do that.

Dashboards and workflows

SharePoint has dashboards and workflows, including task notifications and updates. This is a feature that OneDrive doesn't offer, as its focus is on an online folder system. The SharePoint platform keeps all dashboards and reports stored on a central portal that employees in the company can access. This can be good to keep track of working towards goals and projects that multiple teams might work on. You can also set up a scorecard or report that displays the metrics on SharePoint files.

You can set up different sites within SharePoint for teams to access, each with its own dashboard and notifications. For example, a company-wide site can help search for general documents, such as HR policies. Employees can have different securities that give them access to some sites and not others, depending on their security level. This can be useful when storing confidential information or working on a project that doesn't include everyone in the organisation.

Sharing files

Both OneDrive and SharePoint allow users to share files. In addition, SharePoint makes it easier for team collaboration. Because OneDrive is more suited to personal use, it can be harder to share files. For example, if a user shares a link to a deleted file, the link subsequently won't work. Due to this, it can be helpful to store files for several collaborators on SharePoint.

SharePoint tracks any changes employees make, allowing users to see previous versions edited by different people. It can be useful for managers to oversee who is contributing to different projects and when. In addition, sharing and moving files is easy as employees can access them from the main cloud.

Collaboration tool

SharePoint offers a collaboration tool called Yammer that employees can access via the Intranet. Yammer is a platform that encourages engagement and information sharing. Employees can post updates, send photos and chat about tasks and projects. Yammer can also be a tool to enhance company culture and for employees to get to know each other in a personal setting. It offers polls and photo upload options, which can provide some fun and lighthearted entertainment to employees. This can be beneficial for companies with remote employees who are still getting to know their colleagues.

Related: Collaboration skills: definitions and examples

What to look for when choosing a program

If you are choosing between using SharePoint and OneDrive, it can be helpful to confirm what you aim to be using the platform for and what is easily accessible by everyone in the team. Making a choice also depends on its primary use for you and your teams. For example, OneDrive is great for smaller projects that have input only from you or from a minimal number of employees. SharePoint is useful for larger projects that require more extensive collaboration. Your budget might also be a deciding factor as OneDrive and SharePoint are offered at different price points.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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