OneDrive and SharePoint: What's the difference?

The sight of a coworker screaming and running into the kitchen to cleanup a catastrophic coffee spill on their laptop was just the first in a long line of terrible accidents I would witness. Like some computer coroner, my life became a testament to a history of heinous PC related crimes. From the smashed remains of a laptop along the highway, to the unmistakable prompting of a cryptovirus demanding payment in Bit-Coin, it seemed there was nowhere to hide from this computer carnage. I now have a list of poor wretched souls who have lost days, weeks, and in some cases, entire months of work from saving files only on their computer. In every case one thing was the same – their pain could have been avoided by using OneDrive and SharePoint.  

OneDrive and SharePoint are document storage and management services which provide a secure place to house and interact with your documents. Although both accomplish very similar things, they are useful under different circumstances. OneDrive provides a safe space for personal documents while SharePoint helps manage organizational documents.  

For example, OneDrive can be used to store a local copy of a document synchronized with the cloud to allow you not only to access your documents offline, but also across different devices like smartphones, tablets, and other computers.  

SharePoint, on the other hand, is best used to collaborate on files with coworkers. A document uploaded to SharePoint can be seen and used by members of the same organizations and groups without the need to share the document. In addition, changes to documents get stored in case a revision needs to be rolled back. In general, SharePoint has more business class features and customizations available.  


OneDrive is a service that synchronizes documents across devices to access documents everywhere. Because of OneDrive’s tight integration with Windows and Office, you can interact with your synced files through the Windows File Explorer, so everything feels familiar. In addition, Office Documents are easily opened or saved to OneDrive right in the Office apps. 

Since all OneDrive documents are automatically synced with the cloud, your documents are always safe and secure. The best uses for OneDrive are:

  • Documents only you use: If you have a document that isn't important to your organization but helps you perform your job, save it to OneDrive. That way you can use it easily, but don't have to share it with others.
  • Documents you need access on a mobile device: Since OneDrive can sync with your mobile devices it's best to keep documents you need on your phone and tablets in OneDrive. 


SharePoint is a document management service, like OneDrive, but much more fully featured. With SharePoint whole organizations can collaborate on documents, upload them to sites, and mange files appropriately. SharePoint is best suited for documents that need to be accessed across an organization or specific groups. Since SharePoint is highly customizable you can add lots of cool features to make SharePoint work best for your organization’s structure. SharePoint is best used for:

Photo Credit:   The Microsoft Office Blog
  • Shared Documents: if more than one person is going to be accessing a document, upload it to SharePoint so SharePoint's features can make sharing and managing access easy.
  • Working Documents: SharePoint allows organizations to enable versioning for documents which lets people look back to older editions of a document and roll back changes if needed.
  • Restricted Documents: If only some people in an organization need access to a document, it should be uploaded to SharePoint. In addition, since SharePoint has data loss prevention features built in, you can leverage features like preventing document downloads to ensure employees don't leak files.

If you have any questions about OneDrive or SharePoint Online and want to learn more, please contact us at