SharePoint vs OneDrive for Business: What Are The Key Differences?

SharePoint and OneDrive for Business are two well-known Microsoft cloud storage solutions. While the two are similar, many don't understand what sets them apart or in what situation to use each solution.

The author of this page: Ian Murphy
Ian Murphy, Senior Cloud & O365 Architect Oct 18, 2022

Cloud computing is on the rise with Gartner’s research predicting that 95% of data workloads will be hosted in the cloud by 2025, up from 30% in 2021. An essential tool in enabling efficient remote and hybrid working strategies, companies embracing the cloud are most likely very familiar with two of Microsoft’s cloud storage solutions, SharePoint and OneDrive for Business. However, there can be confusion over what the difference is between the two considering they have similar functionality. Also, it is unclear which solution is best for each situation.

SharePoint is a cloud-based file-sharing solution that is part of the wider Microsoft 365 ecosystem. SharePoint operates as a centralised space for organisational data incorporating SharePoint web sites, libraries and lists used to store files and folders library allowing for real-time collaboration. SharePoint also allows for permission management in relation to libraries, files, lists and list items..

OneDrive for Business is also a cloud-based file-sharing solution that is part of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem too. This application acts as a central location to store data and share information with others. OneDrive allows for effective collaboration by authorising access for multiple users at once while ensuring data is safeguarded.

At a high-level both SharePoint and OneDrive for Business provide online spaces for users to access and collaborate on files or documents. However, what differentiates them is their broader use in an organisation.

What Differentiates SharePoint and OneDrive?

While SharePoint and OneDrive for Business share a lot of commonalities, below are a few key differences.

Personal vs Collaborative Storage

Storage is one of the things that sets both solutions apart. While both are good cloud-based storage options, the main differentiator is what type of files or content you want to store. OneDrive is a user’s own personal business storage where files that they don’t want to share with the wider team can be stored. For example, a user could be working on a document that they are not ready to share for review just yet. They can store this in OneDrive – allowing them to still utilize OneDrive's cloud reducing the space taken up on desktop storage but also not sharing it with the wider organisation just yet. While the file is privately stored within their personal business storage in the cloud, the file can still be shared for co-authoring and collaboration with a select few users if required.

SharePoint however is more of a team or organisational collaborative cloud storage tool. This is where a user might store a file or document that they want to share with the wider organisation or working team. This works well if there is a document that requires the input of a number of different people. By storing it on SharePoint, the whole project group can access and edit the document provided they are granted these permissions. SharePoint is also highly integrated with Microsoft Teams, (as is OneDrive, but to a lesser degree) so working teams can add tabs to relevant project documents and collaborate all within Microsoft Teams further enhancing collaboration.

Central Document Management

Another thing to note that sets SharePoint apart from OneDrive is its ability to be used as a central document management system. Many organisations use SharePoint in this way as it proves to be very efficient. Document management within SharePoint involves the organisation of SharePoint libraries combined with powerful search functionality. This along with the collaboration capabilities, ability to access from anywhere and the fact that it is cloud-based contributes to SharePoint being considered one of the leading platforms for document management.

SharePoint as an Intranet

One other unique capability of SharePoint is its ability to be used as a corporate intranet. Intranets act as a company homepage or portal for employees that can be used to present a number of different types of content including company news, updates as well as employee praise and much more. It can also be a central space for employees to access relevant links or document libraries, log support queries, access training materials or just generally stay updated and connect with co-workers.

Overall, SharePoint and OneDrive are both powerful cloud storage options.  Both options are focused on safeguarding your data, backed by the same enterprise-grade security protocols including encryption of data in transit and at rest, and the option of configuring DLP as well as retention policies, auditing and reporting. Both solutions allow the user to specify the document permissions for each user, although SharePoint allows for this at a wider level. SharePoint also allows users the ability to restore to a list or library at a point in time with built-in multi-level recycle bin functionality. Since they are both parts of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, many organisations use both SharePoint and OneDrive in combination as they easily integrate too.  

If you are interested in learning more about how your organisation could benefit from SharePoint, OneDrive or the Microsoft 365 ecosystem in general? Get in touch today to speak with one of our experts

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