SharePoint vs. OneDrive: How Are They Different?

Cloud storage

SharePoint vs. OneDrive: How Are They Different?

Key Points

  • SharePoint is a robust document management system for team collaborations, while OneDrive is a mainstream cloud storage system for individual or small-scale usage.
  • OneDrive primarily targets individual users and personal files, while SharePoint operates with a team-based focus for file sharing and collaboration within teams or organizations.
  • OneDrive offers straightforward access management for individual files, while SharePoint allows for more complex sharing structures at different levels within a team or organization.
  • SharePoint excels in fostering team collaboration with real-time document editing and tracking, while OneDrive is tailored toward personal or small-scale use with limited collaboration features.
  • SharePoint provides enterprise-grade security features and superior document discoverability, while OneDrive offers robust security and simpler search functionality.

Navigating the nuanced world of Microsoft’s file management tools can be daunting. SharePoint and OneDrive, integral components of the Microsoft ecosystem, are often confused due to their overlapping functionalities. They serve a similar purpose at their core, enabling users to store, share, and access files. However, the differentiation lies in the context of use and the features that cater to specific business needs. We typically regard SharePoint as a robust document management system, perfect for team collaborations and intranet needs. It facilitates effective organization and control of files, along with custom branding features.

OneDrive, on the other hand, shines as a mainstream cloud storage system, offering a more personal file repository. It allows users to store and share files securely, making it a practical choice for individual or small-scale usage. Its seamless integration with Office 365 also stands out, providing an easy way to sync all updates and changes. Therefore, while SharePoint and OneDrive overlap in certain aspects, they cater to different scopes of work and project requirements, each offering unique benefits in file management and collaboration.

Let us now discuss the key differences between SharePoint and OneDrive, which will help you pick the best tool.

SharePoint vs. OneDrive: Side-by-Side Comparison

PurposeA collaborative platform for sharing, organizing, and managing documents within an organizationPersonal cloud storage service
Ideal ForTeams and organizationsIndividual users
Collaboration FeaturesSupports advanced collaboration features like co-authoring and version controlFocused more on file storage and sharing
File StorageStores files shared in a team’s channelStores files shared in a private or group chat
Access ControlHigh level of control and security over shared documents, ideal for sensitive dataFiles are private unless shared with others
User InterfaceOffers branding and UI controlSimple and user-friendly interface
IntegrationWell-integrated with other Microsoft products for individual useWell integrated with other Microsoft products for individual use
Use CaseUseful for businesses that require structured document management, collaboration, and workflowsIdeal for personal or small-scale document storage and sharing
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Microsoft SharePoint is the perfect cloud-based solution to collaborate within a large company.


OneDrive vs. SharePoint: What’s the Difference?

Microsoft offers a range of productivity tools under its umbrella, and two of the most popular ones are OneDrive and SharePoint. Though they seem similar, they serve different purposes based on varying user needs and business demands. Here, we will delve into the significant differences between OneDrive and SharePoint.

User Focus

OneDrive primarily targets individual users and solo tasks, standing as a personal cloud storage service. OneDrive’s usage is most useful when dealing with personal files that need organized storage and personal access space. It empowers users to save files directly to the cloud, making them accessible from anywhere. It’s akin to a digital locker where individuals can store their documents, pictures, and other files.

Contrarily, SharePoint operates with a team-based focus in mind. SharePoint is akin to a collaboration platform enabling file sharing and document collaboration within teams, departments, or entire organizations. This structure benefits group projects or initiatives where multiple stakeholders must access and edit the same documents. The focus on team collaboration also enables SharePoint to offer additional features, such as creating web pages, dashboards, and notification systems to keep the team in sync.

File Ownership

In OneDrive, individual users have clear ownership of their files. When a file is uploaded or created in OneDrive, the creator of that file is the owner by default. This ownership gives the user the power to control sharing and access permissions. It’s an ideal setup for personal files or documents requiring limited access.

On the other hand, SharePoint takes a team ownership approach, with files uploaded into a SharePoint site owned by the team or the organization itself. This model allows for collective responsibility and access to shared resources, emphasizing collaborative work. The shared ownership model also means that if a team member leaves the organization, their work remains accessible to the team, mitigating any potential data loss or workflow interruption.

Access Management

OneDrive, as an individual-focused tool, offers straightforward access management. The files’ owner controls who can access them and what permissions they have. The owner can keep files private or share them with specific individuals, granting permissions ranging from view-only access to full edit rights.

Conversely, Microsoft designed SharePoint’s access management for larger-scale, team-based sharing. The administrator of a SharePoint site can configure access permissions at different levels, such as site level, library level, or even individual file level. This flexibility allows for more complex sharing structures that accommodate the needs of diverse teams and projects within an organization.

Collaborative Capabilities

When it comes to fostering team collaboration, SharePoint distinctly shines. Its robust design allows for large-scale project management that involves teamwork, making it more suitable for businesses that require simultaneous inputs and updates. SharePoint is well-integrated with Microsoft 365, enabling team members to work seamlessly on documents in real time, discuss modifications, and track changes.

In contrast, OneDrive has a different focus. Primarily serving as a personal storage service, it’s ideal for individuals to store, access, and share files. OneDrive does offer sharing and collaboration features, but it’s tailored toward personal or small-scale use. Files in OneDrive can be shared for collaborative editing, but the platform lacks the more extensive project management features SharePoint offers.

Enterprise-Grade Security Features

Though OneDrive and SharePoint both provide secure cloud storage solutions, SharePoint has a slight edge when considering enterprise-grade security features. It gives administrators more control over how data is accessed and shared, allowing them to set permissions at site, library, folder, and document levels. SharePoint also provides versioning, enabling users to track and manage document changes and recover earlier versions if necessary.

Conversely, OneDrive offers robust security features but lacks the advanced administrative controls found in SharePoint. It provides options for file encryption, two-factor authentication, and ransomware detection. However, you can only set permissions at the file or folder level, and administrative controls are relatively limited. The platform excels in personal or small business environments where advanced control settings are less of a necessity.

Document Discoverability

SharePoint outperforms OneDrive in terms of document discoverability. It’s designed to handle large volumes of content and offers superior search functionalities, including metadata and taxonomy features, to help organize and locate documents. SharePoint also allows the creation of custom search-driven applications that promote specific content and enhance discoverability.

In comparison, OneDrive’s search functionality, while robust for personal use, may need to be improved for more giant corporations. While users can easily find files within their own OneDrive, they may only be able to locate documents shared by others if a direct link is provided. Its structure is less suited to managing the large quantities of content businesses generate.

Workflows, Dashboards, Calendars, and Extras

With SharePoint, teams can develop and manage workflows effectively. It allows for the creation of customized workflows tailored to specific business processes. These workflows can automate routine business processes, thereby enhancing efficiency and productivity. Further, SharePoint boasts a suite of extras like dashboards, calendars, and task lists. These tools offer a central point of management, helping teams to track project progress and deadlines.

On the other hand, OneDrive, while lacking in the workflow department, offers a more straightforward and intuitive user interface. It primarily focuses on file storage and sharing. Hence, it does not provide extras like dashboards and calendars. Despite this, OneDrive’s simplicity makes it a favorite for personal use and smaller teams who primarily need a secure platform for storing and sharing documents.

Storage and Functionalities

OneDrive operates primarily as an online file and folder storage system that securely saves files. It performs exceptionally well for individual users or small teams requiring a place to store and access files from anywhere.

However, regarding large-scale project management that requires active collaboration, SharePoint shines. Its file-sharing platform integrates perfectly with teams, providing a digital workspace where multiple team members can store, organize, and share documents. SharePoint covers storage and introduces robust collaborative features. It provides capabilities for creating web pages, incorporating dashboards, and pushing notifications. For instance, a team could create a custom site within SharePoint to centralize all their resources, schedule tasks, and receive updates. This extended functionality highlights the significant difference between SharePoint and OneDrive, with the former leaning towards comprehensive team-based project management and the latter emphasizing personal storage and simple file sharing.


While SharePoint acts as a powerful collaborative tool, it also serves as a company’s intranet platform, creating a virtual office environment. SharePoint allows for the creation of individual sites for each department, project, or team, effectively serving as the go-to place for all company news, updates, and shared resources. This centralization ensures team members know where to find essential documents and information, leading to more efficient internal communication.

Contrastingly, OneDrive is not designed to function as an intranet. Its primary role is to provide a personal workspace for employees to store, share, and sync their work files across multiple devices. While sharing files with others is possible, OneDrive doesn’t facilitate company-wide communication or create shared workspaces like SharePoint. It’s more about private file management and less about broad collaboration and information distribution.

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Microsoft OneDrive is a file hosting and synchronization service operated by Microsoft.


OneDrive vs. SharePoint: Must-Know Facts

  • OneDrive excels in individual file storage and access, making it an excellent choice for personal and small-team collaboration.
  • However, SharePoint offers comprehensive document management and collaboration features, making it better suited for larger teams or whole organizations.
  • While OneDrive provides seamless file sync and offline access, SharePoint shines with its rich metadata capabilities and custom libraries.
  • OneDrive’s interface is more straightforward and intuitive, making it an easy pick for non-technical users.
  • SharePoint offers superior customization, allowing businesses to tailor the platform to their needs.
  • With SharePoint, teams can create websites and intranets, which isn’t a feature of OneDrive.
  • OneDrive provides a robust personal backup solution, allowing users to safeguard their essential files against data loss.
  • SharePoint promotes better version control, as it tracks changes and maintains different versions of the documents, making it ideal for group projects.
  • User-specific settings are easier to manage in OneDrive due to their nature, whereas SharePoint leans towards global settings applied across the organization.
  • SharePoint’s search function is more comprehensive, allowing for better file discovery across an organization, unlike OneDrive, which focuses on personal file search.

OneDrive vs. SharePoint: Which One Is Better?

These two Microsoft products, OneDrive and SharePoint, offer unique strengths making one preferable over the other depending on your requirements. While they share some similarities, they serve different file management and collaboration purposes. OneDrive is user-friendly, designed for personal file storage, and is great for backing up data, making it an excellent choice for individual use. It allows you to keep your files private unless you share them, an ideal option when working on a project yourself.

On the other hand, SharePoint is a comprehensive solution for businesses, providing advanced features like collaboration tools, document management, and site-building capabilities. Its strength lies in facilitating team collaborations and offering a document management system, distinguishing it from the mainstream cloud storage system provided by OneDrive. It’s the preferred choice for teams already working in Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, or Outlook.

In summary, OneDrive and SharePoint have unique functionalities catering to distinct user needs, making the “better” choice subjective to the user’s needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are SharePoint and OneDrive?

SharePoint is a tool specially made for collaborative work, enabling multiple teams and individuals to work on identical products and documents simultaneously on a cloud-based platform. OneDrive is essentially an online file storage or document folder system used mainly by business teams and individuals who need central storage and easy access to their files and data.

What are the main differences between SharePoint and OneDrive?

The primary differences lie in their usage. SharePoint is designed for collaborative work, with options to set permissions to access files by folder or directory, making it ideal for team projects. In contrast, OneDrive is used primarily for personal document storage and sharing, with default settings for document privacy and limited file-sharing options.

Are both SharePoint and OneDrive suitable for file sharing?

Yes, both SharePoint and OneDrive are excellent for file sharing. However, OneDrive focuses on personal file storage and sharing, while SharePoint is more suited for collaborative file sharing, with customizable permissions and access levels.

How do SharePoint and OneDrive handle communication and collaboration?

SharePoint has tools and cloud solutions that make communication easy and convenient within and outside an organization without compromising security. OneDrive has more limited capabilities in this regard. SharePoint also offers a more customizable, collaboration-friendly environment with various tools for end users to collaborate.

Can I use both SharePoint and OneDrive?

Yes, you can use both SharePoint and OneDrive, and many companies do. Each platform offers unique benefits, and using them together can provide a comprehensive solution for both individual and collaborative work needs.

Are SharePoint and OneDrive secure?

Both SharePoint and OneDrive offer security features to protect your files. SharePoint has a secured extranet accessible for internal users and provides access for external users through permissions. OneDrive has two user options, personal or business, allowing users to keep their stored files secure and confidential.

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