April 13, 2021

SharePoint vs. OneDrive for Business: What’s the Difference?

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Quick summary:

  • OneDrive is essentially an online folder system for file storage, but SharePoint includes many other features such as collaboration, CMS, and dashboards.
  • Microsoft 365 now includes SharePoint features in its cloud platform, but you can also purchase SharePoint by itself as an on-premise solution.

Table of contents

This post has been updated for 2021.

The Microsoft software-verse is always growing, and with that growth you’ll find a lot of overlap between tools. Pinpointing the differences between SharePoint vs. OneDrive is difficult, because the tools have so much in common. Nevertheless, they aren’t the same.

When you compare OneDrive vs. SharePoint, you’ll notice that they approach collaboration, file sharing, and project management in different ways. These tools are only two choices in a crowded project management software market full of specialized tools for marketing, construction, software development, and many other industries and tools. If you’d like free, customized recommendations now, use our Product Selection Tool or click on the image below to get started.

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OneDrive vs. SharePoint: a difference of definitions

onedrive logo

OneDrive is an online document/file storage platform. It’s typically used by individuals and business teams who need a central location to store and access files. OneDrive’s versioning and sharing features make it easy to work together, so it’s more than an online filing cabinet. Microsoft distinguishes between personal and work or school versions of the tool; for the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the work or school version.

sharepoint logo

SharePoint is a collaboration tool for businesses that need multiple individuals and teams to work on documents and products at the same time. Over the last few years, Microsoft released updates to their Microsoft 365 product (previously known as Office 365) that have absorbed SharePoint into the Microsoft 365 cloud platform. For the purposes of this post, we’ll talk specifically about SharePoint as an on-premise solution, known as SharePoint Server. If we discuss hybrid or cloud solutions, we’ll call those Microsoft 365. Microsoft 365 includes both SharePoint features and the OneDrive storage platform, making those available on any device from the cloud.

Confused yet?

On-premise vs. Cloud

Why buy a standalone solution like SharePoint when you could get all the same features with Microsoft 365? The answer really has to do with the preferences of your IT department. Some developers prefer the security and control that come with locally installed software. When you deploy SharePoint on your company’s servers, the company owns the look and feel of the software and controls when updates roll out. On the other hand, the company maintains responsibility for any security breaches and purchasing version updates.

ALSO READ: 6 SharePoint Alternatives to Put on Your Shortlist

Businesses who purchase SharePoint as a stand-alone, on-premise option can also purchase OneDrive for document storage and sharing, although all of those features are available in SharePoint.

Encryption and Compliance

Businesses concerned with document safety, auditing, or regulatory compliance often find that SharePoint’s granular version control and user access settings help them control the security of their internal and customer data. While both Microsoft 365 and OneDrive encrypt documents to keep them safe from prying eyes, only SharePoint can offer the added security of a standalone server.

Microsoft 365 (including all OneDrive platforms) offers granular access controls so administrators can assign permissions across the platform. The entire Microsoft cloud and hybrid platform supports TLS and SHA-2 security protocols and no longer supports SSL security. Microsoft encrypts all of your data upon transfer to and from their servers, as well as stores it on the Microsoft servers in encrypted form.

Document and Resource Management

OneDrive (for work and school) contains all of the original SharePoint document offerings, including workflows, auditing, templates, and version control. What it does not include are your marketing resources, such as website and social media connections. The business owns the account, and each user is assigned a personal account under the business’s account where individual documents can be produced and stored before they are shared to the wider company audience.

Many companies use SharePoint for organization-wide document and file collaboration. Both Microsoft 365 and the SharePoint Server offerings provide collaborative workflows and granular permissions to help you move content from idea to publication without skipping steps. Your marketing teams will appreciate SharePoint’s white label features that let you set up your intranet to match your branding. Microsoft 365 does not include these same branding features.

Website, Apps, and CMS

Many companies use SharePoint’s engine to build and maintain their company website, internal documentation, and even web apps. The CMS component lets you publish your documents directly to your company website or make them available for access and download by customers or employees. Many companies also use SharePoint’s internal analytics to build custom apps for employee or external use. You can build your company’s customer-facing website, help documentation, FAQ pages, or your employee portal right from the SharePoint interface using the documents your team shares.

OneDrive doesn’t offer the ability to publish your content to the web. While you can email links to documents, you cannot publish those documents directly to a web page from the OneDrive platform. You can make documents discoverable to your team, but you’ll need Microsoft 365 or another CMS/website platform to publish your work publicly.

Workflows, Dashboards, Calendars, and Extras

OneDrive gives different members of your team access to documents for storage and sharing and tracks versions, but it’s essentially an online folder system and does not include many of the extras available in SharePoint and the larger Microsoft 365 cloud suite.

SharePoint gives your team a collaborative workspace with dashboards, calendars, tasks, notifications, and updates. The SharePoint platform keeps these located in a central portal associated with company sites. You can set up a SharePoint site for each of your teams to access, with dashboards that give team and company notifications. You can also set up a corporate portal where searchable company-wide libraries and notifications live. Assign each employee a security level to allow access.

Which project management tool
integrates with your software?

Choosing between SharePoint and OneDrive

The best software option for any company is the one that everyone can get behind. If you have faith in the security of the cloud and you’d like the added benefit of having Microsoft handle your software updates, you may find your solution in Microsoft 365, which offers both OneDrive and SharePoint capabilities from the cloud.

On the other hand, many companies still find comfort in the control of an on-premise solution. SharePoint Server offers the branding and UI control that Microsoft 365 doesn’t, without diminishing the power of its features.

Looking for a project management tool that integrates with either SharePoint or OneDrive? Use our Product Selection Tool to get a no-hassle shortlist of the best project management software for your business based on your unique needs.

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