Microsoft SharePoint vs OneDrive

SharePoint and OneDrive are the two file hosting services offered by Microsoft. Although they share some similarities, they also have different characteristics that make them suitable for different situations. In this article I will cover the following:

  • What are file hosting services?
  • What are the characteristics of Microsoft OneDrive?
  • What are the characteristics of Microsoft SharePoint? 
  • When to use Microsoft OneDrive and when to use SharePoint
  • How much OneDrive and SharePoint cost and how to buy them
  • Which devices can use OneDrive and SharePoint?
  • Alternatives to OneDrive and SharePoint

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What are file hosting services?

If you are old enough, you will remember using big external hard drives and DVDs to store your data. Fortunately, this is not necessary anymore as data can be safely stored “in the cloud” for a very affordable price. But what does this actually mean? Saving your files “on the cloud” means storing them on a big database that can be accessed via the internet, wherever you are and through any device. The main advantages of saving your data in the cloud are:

  • You will never lose precious data as it is safely stored in a datacenter
  • You can access your data wherever you are as long as you have internet connection
  • Your data is encrypted and really safe (as long as you choose a good hosting service!)
  • If somebody steals your device, you can just block it to protect your data
  • You can work on the same file on different devices
  • Multiple people can work on the same file from different locations and on different devices
  • You can buy a device with less storage space 

What is a hosting service? This is a service that offers you storage space ¨on the cloud¨ for a certain amount of money. Microsoft OneDrive and Microsoft SharePoint are both file hosting services offered by the tech giant Microsoft.

What are the characteristics of Microsoft OneDrive?

Have you ever used Dropbox or Google Drive? Well, Microsoft OneDrive is an alternative to these. When activating your account, you can choose to automatically sync all the data on your device(s) to Microsoft OneDrive. If you do not want to have all your data synced, you can also choose to sync only specific folders.

OneDrive: the perfect file hosting service to store your data 

OneDrive is mostly just designed to save your own data in the cloud. Therefore, it only offers basic collaboration options. OneDrive has a fantastic app, accessible not on your Windows device, but also Android and iOS devices. This means you do not need to worry if some of your devices are not based on Windows; the OneDrive apps are always user friendly! 

What are the characteristics of Microsoft SharePoint?

As I just mentioned, Microsoft SharePoint is also a file hosting service. However, unlike OneDrive, Microsoft SharePoint is mostly designed for team collaboration. In fact, SharePoint looks more like a website than a shared folder. Different team members can upload files to SharePoint and modify these shared files. 

SharePoint: the perfect collaboration-hosting service

As I just mentioned, SharePoint is probably one of the best hosting services for team collaboration. Another fantastic feature of SharePoint is how well-integrated it is with all Microsoft Office products. When using SharePoint, you can open any Microsoft Office file, including Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, and modify it simultaneously with other users. The collaboration function of SharePoint is really advanced and makes it very simple for remote teams to work together on the same file.

There is also no reason to worry about safety. Only the owner of a SharePoint can control who views and modifies certain folders. 

When to use Microsoft OneDrive and when to use SharePoint

By now, you probably already understand that you will have to use both Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint to be successful at work. You should use OneDrive to store your files safely and access them from wherever you are, and SharePoint to collaborate with your colleagues or share content with suppliers and customers. Both OneDrive and SharePoint offer the option to share content only with specific users. Selecting the correct audience is particularly critical when you use Microsoft SharePoint to share company secret content. Make sure to select who can view and modify content in SharePoint carefully, or you might really run into trouble!

How much OneDrive and SharePoint cost and how to buy them 

Like most Microsoft Office products, OneDrive and SharePoint are paid. The only exception is the OneDrive basic 5GB package. 

Is Microsoft OneDrive free?

The smallest Microsoft OneDrive package offers 5GB of online storage space for free. When this sounds very exciting, you would miss out on the main advantage of OneDrive: its integration with other Microsoft Office programs. If you choose to use only the free 5GB OneDrive package, you will not have Microsoft Word, PowerPoint or any other Microsoft office software. This means that the basic OneDrive storage space can only be used to store files and not to collaborate with other users. If you want free storage space, I recommend using Google Drive. The free version of Google Drive is fully integrated with Google Docs, Sheets, and all other Google Office software. I will give more detail about this later in the article.

If you just want a lot of storage space and do not want to spend extra for more Microsoft Office software, you can choose the OneDrive Standalone plan. This plan costs $1.99 per month and offers 100GB of online storage.

Is SharePoint free?

No, Microsoft Sharepoint is not free, and it cannot be bought separately. The cheapest way to get a Microsoft Sharepoint licence is to purchase a SharePoint Online Plan. This plan includes 1 TB of space that you can use for SharePoint or OneDrive. As I just mentioned, this licence includes both OneDrive and Sharepoint. However, it does not include Microsoft Word or any other Microsoft Office software. The limitation of this plan is that you won’t be able to enjoy the collaborative features of Microsoft Office files on OneDrive or SharePoint.

Prices for Microsoft Office plans that include SharePoint and OneDrive plans

OneDrive is part of most Microsoft Office plans. If you have a paid Microsoft Office subscription, it already includes OneDrive and a certain storage amount. Note that this is only valid for subscriptions paid monthly or yearly. If you paid once for an unlimited time Microsoft Office subscription, it will not include Microsoft OneDrive. A basic Microsoft Office 365 subscription, including OneDrive, starts at $69.99 per year. You can find more information on the price of Microsoft Office subscriptions in this article.

Price for Office plans that include SharePoint 

SharePoint is a file hosting service meant to support collaboration. It is therefore not offered as part of the standard Microsoft Office personal and family plans. To get Microsoft SharePoint as part of a Microsoft Office plan, you need to purchase a Microsoft 365 Business subscription. 

The cheapest Microsoft 365 Business subscription , which includes both Microsoft Office and SharePoint, costs $12.50 per user per month. I think that this is quite a reasonable price if you consider how well-integrated all Microsoft Office software is.

Which devices can use Microsoft SharePoint and OneDrive?

OneDrive and SharePoint work perfectly on not only Windows devices, but also on Android, Apple and Chromebook devices! You can collaborate with colleagues using any device from anywhere, the only thing you need is an internet connection!

Alternatives to OneDrive and SharePoint

Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint are probably the best file hosting services for storing and working on Microsoft Office files like Word, Excel or PowerPoint. If you only need storage space, good alternatives to OneDrive are Google Drive and Dropbox. However, if you want to collaborate, there is no real good alternative to SharePoint!