OneDrive or SharePoint TeamSites – Where Should You Put Your Documents?


We use Office 365 here very intensively for the next iteration, and for some documents you must have asked yourself whether you should store it in your OneDrive or in a SharePoint team or project site. In order to shed some light on the situation, we have compared the two systems for ourselves and would like to briefly describe which documents should be stored better in OneDrive for Business and which should be stored in SharePoint sites, for your guidance and convenience.

With OneDrive, Microsoft has introduced a cloud storage space that we all find really useful, but that also likes to cause confusion. Because those who use Office 365 or an on-premises SharePoint or plan to implement it often don’t know exactly what the difference between OneDrive for Business and website libraries is. In both places you can store documents and share them with others, have the option to view previous versions and can call them up with different end devices. Nevertheless, you should develop a uniform document filing strategy for yourself or your company and not just mess everything up in OneDrive or SharePoint Online.

In order to understand the principle of OneDrive and SharePoint websites, it made sense to first familiarize yourself with the technical facts. In the second step, you can then develop a strategy for document storage in OneDrive for Business and in SharePoint document libraries.


What is OneDrive?

OneDrive is a cloud storage for documents that Microsoft offers. It is important to differentiate between OneDrive Personal and OneDrive for Business.

OneDrive Staff

OneDrive Personal is private cloud storage that every private person can create and use free of charge. Similar to the Dropbox, you can upload the documents and share them with friends, acquaintances and colleagues and access them from anywhere where the Internet is available.


OneDrive for Business

OneDrive for Business, on the other hand, was designed for use in companies. It is part of Office 365 packages for companies, but can also be purchased separately. Basically, OneDrive works as PC users are used to from the normal file system. You can use the File Explorer to create a folder structure, save, copy and delete documents. In contrast to the file system, the files in OneDrive are not stored locally, but in the cloud. You can not only access it from a PC, but from any internet-enabled device. The files can also be opened via the browser and even in File Explorer.


Data Synchronization In OneDrive For Business

The files are synchronized with local folders on the PC via the OneDrive for Business Sync app. It is also possible to synchronize only certain documents or folders and make them available for offline processing. Soon there will be the so-called on-demand feature, in which the files are displayed in the local file system, but only synchronized when necessary. This saves storage space on the local device, but you always have an overview of all existing documents.


Revision Control In One Drive For Business

Files automatically have a revision control, so earlier statuses can be easily recalled. Deleted items are still in the trash for some time, by default this is emptied every 90 days. However, an administrator can adjust this setting.

Share documents in OneDrive for Business

The documents can also be released to other people. The release takes place individually for each document (or each folder) and can be set granularly. In this way, authorizations can be set (read only, edit), access limited and the approval can be revoked.

Documents that have been released can be edited in real time if the program supports it. This is possible, for example, in Word. You can see the changes of your colleagues live and are informed who is currently working on everything in the document.

Security in OneDrive for Business

Company-wide compliance and security guidelines can be set for OneDrive for Business, so that no sensitive data ends up in the cloud that should not be stored there. Examples of this are credit card numbers or personal data such as employee tax numbers. Device access can be defined via the admin center and, for example, the data on lost devices can be deleted.


Browser access to OneDrive for Business

If you access OneDrive for Business via the browser, you can not only access the folders and files, but there are other helpful menu items.


  • Shared with Me:

    In the section ‘Shared with me’ you can see all documents that have been released for his user.

  • Discover:

    In the Discover section, OneDrive will collect relevant data for you. These are documents that belong to you or that have been released for you, that are currently or recently being worked on. OneDrive does not ignore the authorization structure, so no document is displayed that has not been released for me. In addition, the files can of course be searched and filtered in OneDrive for Business.


What Are Websites In SharePoint?

SharePoint sites are a central place for teams or projects and are designed to work together. There, files can also be uploaded and shared into a website’s document library. Working together on documents at the same time is made possible. At the same time, depending on the type, websites also contain calendars, lists and the opportunity to communicate in a team. There is also the option of integrating documents into workflows there.


  • Data in SharePoint Websites:

    Documents that are uploaded to a website’s document library are automatically accessible to all members of the website, but can also be shared with colleagues outside the team or outside the organization if the compliance guidelines allow it.

  • Revision Control in SharePoint Websites:

    The documents are automatically versioned when versioning is activated in the library, an earlier status can be restored at any time.

  • Access Documents in SharePoint Sites:

    The documents are usually accessed in the browser, but the documents can also be integrated into the local folder structure and synchronized via the OneDrive for Business Sync app. The documents can then be edited directly in the browser or in the local app.


How do OneDrive for Business and SharePoint TeamSites Differ?

The technical basis for OneDrive and websites is the same, both are based on SharePoint. The main difference is that team collaboration sites were specialized, while OneDrive for Business was designed as personal storage space for a company’s employees.

For example, documents that are stored in OneDrive are automatically set as private, so they must be actively shared with others. In a document library, however, the documents are automatically published for everyone who has access to the TeamSite.

Strategy Store Documents In OneDrive For Business Or SharePoint Document Libraries

In the meantime, we have found a good file storage strategy that worked for ur company. Since we are often asked by customers where the difference is between file storage in OneDrive for Business and SharePoint TeamSites, we have described our approach in more detail and tried to derive general strategies from it.


Which Strategy Is Right for Me?

You can use OneDrive for Business to save documents when;

  • Only you need access to the document. Since documents in OneDrive for Business are stored by default without access for other people, this is the ideal place for documents that nobody else currently needs.
    Only a few people should have access to the document. If not everyone from a team needs access to a document or individual people from different teams, it also makes sense to store the document in OneDrive for Business and set the permissions individually.
  • There is no suitable SharePoint website to which the document can be assigned and no website is necessary for the topic.

You can use team sites to save documents when;

  • The document makes sense for the whole team. This may include documents with information for projects or, for example, approved marketing material that all the colleagues are happy to view and share at any time.
  • The document is to be integrated into a workflow.

Which Strategy Is Right for You & Your Company?

As always, such a question cannot be answered in general, since each company is individual and different solutions are required depending on the corporate culture and the legal framework.

We have established rules internally for which occasions a new team or project site should be created. During onboarding, our employees learn which documents belong in websites and which are better in OneDrive for Business. We then regularly check whether our rules still make sense for websites or whether they need to be revised and delete or create the websites accordingly.

Since this approach works very well for us, we recommend setting up rules for which projects and topics in SharePoint new sites should be created. Whenever a document fits into such a team or project site, it should also be saved there.

If it does not fit into an existing website and the topic does not meet the rules for a new SharePoint website, the document should be saved in OneDrive for Business and then shared with the appropriate group of people.



OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Team Sites are two services that have the same technological origin but are designed for different goals. However, the two services continue to merge, so they now use the same sync client and the same mobile client and will probably merge even more in the future.

We would be happy to advise you on your handling of documents in the company. For example, use our OCTO dashboard to have a better overview of your documents.