SharePoint vs. OneDrive – What’s the Difference?

By Gary Utley on April 20, 2018



SharePoint Online and OneDrive are both relatives in the Microsoft family of products, housed in the Office 365 suite of services. Both products offer online document services and are great not only for storage but file sharing as well. Both were designed for the small to enterprise-size business and work well for any industry.

If you have a Microsoft online account, you have OneDrive for personal use. There is also OneDrive for Business that comes with an Office 365 subscription. But you can also access SharePoint storage locations from your Office 365 dashboard.

If you’re using both of these software applications at work, it might be confusing to figure out which software is better for the various tasks you undertake every day. This article seeks to demystify the SharePoint vs. OneDrive conundrum.

The Basics of SharePoint vs. OneDrive 

Let’s start with OneDrive. First, anyone with an email address can sign up for free document storage with OneDrive. You can sync the online storage service with any digital device and securely store photos or documents.

At work, if you subscribe to Office 365, you can access OneDrive for Business. This service is very different from the free offering. You can save your files in OneDrive for Business, just like the personal application, and use them anywhere. You can access OneDrive for Business in the cloud on your Office 365 dashboard. OneDrive for Business supports all kinds of files; from the portal, you can share documents and invite others to edit them. When on the road, you can add, manage, and share files from your cell phone or laptop. If you make any changes to files when offline, they will automatically sync once you join the cloud again.

When comparing SharePoint vs. OneDrive, there are a few key differences. First, while Office 365 subscribers have access to SharePoint, there is no free consumer version. SharePoint also allows you to store, share, and edit files. But SharePoint is more often used as the jumping off point for greater office collaboration, where OneDrive is really considered to be more of a holding tank for file storage. That’s probably because of how the permission defaults are set up in each application. OneDrive defaults to private on every document, while SharePoint allows you to set permissions by directory or folder. This makes SharePoint generally a better choice for files that are meant to be part of a team collaborative effort.

One big differentiator for SharePoint is that it allows offices to create a collaborative hub for shared workspaces; an intranet website for teams that seek to work together on a project. From that hub, you can manage an entire project, add status updates and use the embedded calendars to track due dates. SharePoint also allows instant messaging via Yammer

So the bottom line, when comparing SharePoint vs. OneDrive is really all about how you plan to use it. For simple document storage, OneDrive is a great option. But for true team collaboration, SharePoint is probably the best choice. 

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