The differences between OneDrive, OneDrive Business & SharePoint

OneDrive/ OneDrive Business/ SharePoint Online - I'm Getting Confused!!!

I talk to people everyday about the virtues of Office 365 and in particular the SharePoint platform. The members of our team have been working with SharePoint for years, both as end users and developers. We've seen the great things, and some things not so great so I feel that we can objectively provide opinions on the matter. Of course, you need to know that all of our products are built around SharePoint do while trying to be objective I probably will tip towards the positives.

So, one of the most common questions that I get is around OneDrive, the differences between it and SharePoint and why one would (or would not) use it. I'll try my best to explain these all.

It's fair to say that there is a lot of confusion in this space caused by a couple of things:

  1. Microsoft rebranding SkyDrive to OneDrive, and
  2. The fact that there's a consumer version and a business version and they essentially have the same name.

Nothing like a good bit of branding confusion!

This is a consumer cloud storage product targeted at anyone wanting to store files in the could. It's built around individuals creating an account and getting 7GB of free storage space (more capacity can be purchased if required and it's pretty cheap). It's really a direct competitor to the likes of Dropbox and is great when you want to be able to access you files from a number of different devices.

Like all cloud software it starts in the web browser. To add to the offering Microsoft also provides free access to the online version of Office for OneDrive users. And just like Dropbox there are different "flavours' for OneDrive:

  • The browser app,
  • The mobile app so you can access your files on the go, and
  • The desktop app that sits in Windows Explorer and allows you to synchronise your files to your Windows computers.

Who Should Use OneDrive?

OneDrive is for individuals, most likely home users.

Can You Share Files?

Of course you can. OneDrive is designed to be your repository of information and you can then let people in to access files if you want to.

To Find Out More

Check out this site.


Here's where we start to get confusing. OneDrive for Business started out built into SharePoint in a special area called a "My Site". This is a personal storage area inside SharePoint. Like OneDrive, OneDrive for Business is built on the context of being locked down for the individual user who can then allow access to files for others as they see fit. But being in SharePoint it implies that it is a part of a bigger business system.

So, OneDrive for Business is the personal storage area in SharePoint.

Again, like OneDrive there's the web app, mobile app and desktop app available for OneDrive for Business.

Who Should Use OneDrive for Business?

Again, this is designed for individual but in this context they are a part of an organisation and need their own personal storage space.

Can You Share Files?

Yes, just the same as with OneDrive. You choose to share files with other people.

What Else Should I Know?

Be careful with the desktop app and file sync. There are limitations around the number of files that can be synchronised before the app fails. In most cases individuals probably won't want to sync the 5,000 files allowed but if you do be wary.

To Find Out More

Check out this site.


SharePoint Online is one of the key components in an Office 365 subscription. It's an awesome platform that provides businesses with a huge variety of options for becoming more productive. This flexibility to build whatever is required is a great strength in SharePoint but can be a weakness also, especially in small businesses. This is because business owners need to start thinking about what they may want and then employ someone to build it for them.

Who Should Use SharePoint Online

Businesses who want to be able to access their files from any device at any time and also who want to build productivity systems. Generally, SharePoint is best suited to businesses who have a little time and money to invest in the platform.

Can You Share Files?

Yes. SharePoint Online is designed with things called Team Sites. These are constructed almost opposite to OneDrive for Business in that all users can access the Team Sites unless they are specifically locked out.

Can I Have Desktop Sync to SharePoint?

Yes. The OneDrive for Business desktop app will allow you to sync files to a SharePoint Online Team Site. However, it is still constrained with the maximum number of files. Given that this is a business file system it's quite possible that there will be tens or hundreds of thousands of files in here and you don't really want users synchronising all of these to their desktops.

To Find Out More

Check out this site.


SuiteFiles is a cloud app that we built. It's built to work with SharePoint Online and provide businesses with a great file management experience. Being built on SharePoint Online all of your files are stored in a Team Site so are available to all users. It also ensures that all of the great things that you can get by using SharePoint Online are available. The major benefit is that rather than paying a development company to put a SharePoint site together for you SuiteFiles is already built and configured with the features needed for great file management. And it's available on a monthly subscription so no upfront development costs required.

Of course, being a cloud app means that SuiteFiles is always up to date. Any changes and enhancements to the app are automatically available to everyone immediately.

Who Should Use SuiteFiles?

Small/medium businesses that want to have their files managed in SharePoint but don't want the work required to define a custom site and then have it built for them. SuiteFiles customers range in size from 1 to 100.

Can You Share Files?

Yes, and with some advanced features built in for SuiteFiles users.

Can I Have Desktop Sync to SuiteFiles?

Technically yes. You'd use the OneDrive for Business desktop app. However, SuiteFiles is designed to managed up to 1TB of file data and many. many thousands of files. The usual restrictions apply to the desktop sync app so it probably won't work well in this circumstance.

To Find Out More

Check out this page on our website.


Hopefully this helps explain this for you. Feel free to drop us a line if you have any further questions about this.