Both SharePoint and OneDrive are products developed by Microsoft and are included in the Microsoft 365 suite (formally known as Office 365).
They both offer file storage and file-sharing capabilities and are used by a large number of businesses and schools across the globe. However, unlike SharePoint, OneDrive has a version that is free for personal use, and all you need to get started is a Microsoft Online account.
In fact, OneDrive is also pre-installed on most versions of Windows. With a free account, you get 5GB of storage, although you can always buy more if required.
When comparing SharePoint with OneDrive, it’s only fair to compare SharePoint with OneDrive for Business (ODFB), which is significantly more advanced than the free version. As such, when I talk about OneDrive, I am generally referring to OneDrive for Business.
Why Use SharePoint or OneDrive
Both SharePoint and OneDrive allow for multiple individuals and teams to work on documents/projects at the same time. They both offer version control, which allows users to restore previous versions of documents. Given that they seem to do the same thing, many people are confused about which one to use, and why.
The truth, however, is that they both serve a different purpose.
For example, SharePoint is a lot more than just a platform for storing and sharing files. Many large companies use SharePoint as a collaboration tool, for publishing websites using the built-in Content Management System (CMS), or for various other reasons which I will cover in this article. To give you a better understanding of the relationship between the two, SharePoint has been referred to as OneDrive’s ‘bigger sister’.
On-premise vs Cloud
Another important difference between SharePoint and OneDrive is that SharePoint can be self-hosted, meaning that organizations who feel uneasy about storing large amounts of sensitive data in the cloud, can use an on-premise version of SharePoint. SharePoint can also be used as a stand-alone product, which means they are not required to pay for the full Microsoft 365 suite. Another reason why companies might choose to host their own instance of SharePoint is that they will have more control over the look and feel of the platform – both the front-end and the back-end. They also have more control over when and how software updates are installed.
Of course, managing and maintaining your own infrastructure comes with its own set of security challenges. As mentioned, companies are responsible for installing their own security patches and are solely responsible for any security breaches that take place. These days, it’s a lot less likely that a company would choose to maintain their own infrastructure over the cloud, and this is especially relevant in light of the ongoing pandemic, which has forced many companies to adopt a remote working model.
Security features of SharePoint vs OneDrive
Since they are both Microsoft products, they obviously share many of the same security features. They both ensure that all data is encrypted (TLS and SHA-2), both at rest and in transit. They both make it easy to roll-back unwanted changes, such as when documents are accidentally deleted. They both come with various features to help companies meet the relevant regulatory compliance requirements.
However, while MS 365 provides the same level of access control as SharePoint, SharePoint allows for more granular access controls than OneDrive. This is because OneDrive (as a stand-alone product) is largely directed at personal users, who will not benefit from the granular access controls provided by either MS 365 or SharePoint.
Having robust access controls is necessary to prevent, or to be more precise, contain data breaches, thus making it easier for security teams to isolate and remove malicious payloads, without causing too much disruption to the broader network. As mentioned already, having the ability to host your own data may, in some circumstances, deliver the best security outcomes.
However, in practice, it’s probably better to trust the security protocols implemented by Microsoft, as they will have a team of highly skilled support engineers, who are available around the clock. It’s also worth bearing in mind that you have the option to encrypt any data yourself before uploading it to the cloud, thus ensuring that even the cloud provider cannot access your sensitive data.
Websites and Applications
One of the main advantages of using SharePoint over OneDrive is the ability to easily create and publish websites, which can be accessed both internally and externally. SharePoint has an advanced Content Management System (CMS) built-in, which makes it easy to create documentation, such as FAQ pages, download pages, and more. Of course, you also have the ability to specify who can access those pages, and the actions they are allowed to perform. This means that you can create custom websites that cater to specific users, whether they are customers, partners or employees. SharePoint also comes with a number of useful collaboration features, such as dashboards, calendars, tasks, notifications, and updates, and all of these features can be accessed via a single portal.
Which is the best, SharePoint or OneDrive
Well, if you have faith in Microsoft’s ability to keep your sensitive data secure and meet the relevant compliance requirements, then Microsoft 365, which includes OneDrive and SharePoint, is probably the way forward.
If you would prefer more control over your infrastructure, applications, and data, as well as more control over the UI and branding, then an on-premise installation of SharePoint might be a better choice. That said, assuming the current trend of allowing employees to work remotely continues, Microsoft 365 will likely be a more popular choice in the years to come.
If you’d like to see how the Lepide Data Security Platform can help you audit OneDrive and/or SharePoint to maintain data security, schedule a demo with one of our engineers or start your free trial today.