Nobody likes file servers. They’re often in a state of chaos, and accessing them from a mobile device is difficult. Virtual private networks only work well on PCs, and even then, we find users crossing their fingers every time they go to connect. However, there’s good news: Office 365 addresses those issues - and more.
Office 365 offers file sharing tools that provide users with three ways to store and share files: OneDrive, Groups and SharePoint. Because files are stored in the cloud, users can easily access them from any device. There’s no need to be on the corporate network or log into a VPN. If there’s a drawback to these file server alternatives, it is that users have too many choices. What files go where? And how do you keep it all organized?
We suggest implementing simple guidelines to help both users and admins, better manage their files:
Personal data à OneDrive
All personal data and files should be stored on the user’s OneDrive. OneDrive is mobile accessible, and syncs with the user’s desktop in the cloud, as well as on their mobile devices. It is also searchable, so users can easily find what they’re looking for. Plus, it can be configured to redirect from a user’s My Documents folder, which helps with adoption.
Collaborative projects à Groups
Any data or files that are shared within a small group of users, and are actively being worked on, should be stored in Groups. In addition to sync, mobility, and search capabilities, Groups provides a shared mailbox, notes, and calendar to provide a complete collaborative workspace. Microsoft is also actively expanding the functionality of Groups by plugging in other applications like Planner and Teams.
Corporate data à SharePoint
Final versions of data and files that are shared companywide or department wide (one to many), should be stored in SharePoint. This includes, for example, departmental best practices or onboarding documents from HR. Once again, users can search and access files from their mobile devices, and syncing capabilities ensures that users are viewing the most recent version. SharePoint also provides the structure and governance needed for corporate data and files. Plus, you can implement workflows for approvals and automation of data in your organization.
We frequently will see using tools for the same data. A Group can be a great place to allow for input and co-authoring of something like an employee handbook. Then SharePoint would be the best place to put that handbook for sharing with everyone, when it is ready to be published.
There’s no need to live with the chaos of file servers. Office 365 offers users a better way to work with OneDrive, Groups, and SharePoint. These simple guidelines around Office 365’s File Sharing Tools can help.
You can also view the video below to get further guidance on which products to use in which scenario, along with which tools work best for your end users in each scenario.
We assist clients with these scenarios daily. We can also guide you through unique situations, like large file sizes and the impact on the performance for users, i.e. distributed CAD files. Also, we rarely will advocate just migrating files from one location to another – it could be a good time to archive some data, or a general cleanup. If you need help determining the best way to use the Microsoft cloud to store your files, and how to access them across your devices, please contact us.