How Do I Use OneDrive for Business?

At a recent meeting in Christchurch one of the participants grumped about his experiences with moving to Office 365, and in particular OneDrive for Business. He was the owner of a small business, and he had moved all of his files into OneDrive for Business (which if I recall correctly was 50 GB of data), and then gave access to the various folders to staff members. He was less than impressed … frustrated, exceedingly so … with the poor performance of OneDrive for Business, and was contemplating giving up Office 365 altogether and shifting to the business edition of Dropbox. That’s a valid alternative for enterprise file sync and share capabilities, but before making that move, he asked what he’d done wrong.

We asked if he was using the new OneDrive for Business client (which Microsoft calls the Next Generation Sync Client), and as far as he knew, he was. Our discussion then moved onto tool selection in the Office 365 palette, and that OneDrive for Business was the wrong tool for what he wanted to do. He should have set up SharePoint sites with document libraries, and then divided his files across those sites and document libraries. This would have given “his business” ownership of the files across “folders” (document libraries), rather than making him personally owner of everything and then trying to manage being owner, delegator, lead collaborator, and more using OneDrive for Business. That’s not its purpose, and he was clearly suffering with his earlier approach.

In differentiating the two main ways in Office 365 for storing and sharing files, then, my guidance is:

1. All business-related content should be in a SharePoint document library. Set up different SharePoint sites for projects, teams, initiatives, departments, etc., and put the related documents into the document library associated with each site first. That’s where they should live. That’s where they should be shared from. That’s where they should be collaborated on.

2. OneDrive for Business – the storage location – is for any personal files related to working at your organisation for which you have ownership, and for which there is no related SharePoint site. Generally speaking, pretty much everything should be in a SharePoint document library anyway, and there should be few documents in your OneDrive for Business account. Some, probably; many, hopefully not.

3. OneDrive for Business – the sync client – offers synchronisation services for any files and folders stored in OneDrive for Business, providing local and offline access across computers and mobile devices (albeit in platform-specific ways). What it doesn’t offer yet – at least in terms of the Next Generation Sync Client – is the ability to synchronise a SharePoint document library to a computer or device. That ability is coming, but it’s not there yet.

Would you say something different?

And in terms of the participant and his challenges with OneDrive for Business, one of the other meeting participants who runs a Microsoft consultancy in the city arranged to meet with him, and set up the required SharePoint team sites and document libraries. The right footing is now in place.

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