By Joy Beland

AT LAST …  This month, our 3rd in the series of hosted file & folder services focuses on SharePoint.  Now, SharePoint is a bit of a different animal, in that the interface is highly customizable and includes workflow rules, shared resources, customized views, and many more collaborative features that are found nowhere in Google Apps or Dropbox.  I love SharePoint.  I love the idea of it being FREE (or included already in most Office 365 subscriptions), so there’s no additional per user monthly charge.  And, the user accounts are already there from when you set up Office 365, so all you have to do is customize your interface for the file & folder sharing, assign the permissions, and then upload your data.

Sounds simple, and it really is, but it’s important to set it up correctly from the outset.  You don’t want to accidentally upload data files from your computer or server to a folder that has looser permissions built-in than the originating folder.

Now, when we discuss SharePoint, we also have to mention OneDrive for Business, which is another hosted data service, but this one does not need to be associated with an Office 365 subscription.  It really is free, for up to 5Gb of data on the personal plan.  Or for $1.99 per month, you can get 50Gb of storage.

Save documents to OneDrive when:

  • You don’t plan to share them. Documents you place in OneDrive are private by default, unless you place them in the Shared with Everyone folder. This makes OneDrive your best option for draft documents or personal documents that no one else needs to see.
  • You plan to share them, but they have a limited scope or lifecycle. You may sometimes work on documents that aren’t related to an ongoing project, which are important mostly to you, but that you still want to share.

SharePoint, on the other hand, is designed to store files and documents when collaboration, version control, and potentially publishing those documents to the web is important.

Main Things SharePoint does that OneDrive for Business Does not:

  • Dashboards: Employees sign in on branded company pages that can feature news, announcements,  notices —pretty much whatever you want everyone in the company to see.
  • Sites: After signing in to the main company dashboard, employees navigate to their department’s site, or even their own site, where they find all the documents they need to work on, along with things like reminders and notifications of coworkers’ availabilities.
  • Workflows: These are automated actions that you can set up that get triggered whenever someone uploads or edits a document.
  • Lists: These are similar to spreadsheets, and they’re used to provide information in areas where they can be accessed by different types of users.

Calendars: These can be used to schedule meetings, set up notifications and reminders, and help workers keep track of each other’s availability.