Sharepoint being used to store and share files
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Understanding SharePoint: Is It the Right Solution for Your Business?

SharePoint, the Microsoft web-based platform is the world’s most popular tool for collaboration and document management. It allows businesses to store, manage, and share documents and information, providing a versatile solution for organising and streamlining business processes. For those of you that are feeling confused about OneDrive and SharePoint and how you can use them in your business, you are not alone!  Our article OneDrive and SharePoint Demystified: Choosing the Right Solution for Your Small Business aims to explain clearly.

However, while hosting company data on OneDrive and SharePoint is ideal for most businesses, it might not always be the best fit for everyone. While these Microsoft tools offer robust features and seamless integration, certain scenarios can present challenges. Here’s a breakdown to help you determine if SharePoint is the right solution for your business.

When OneDrive and SharePoint Might Not Be Suitable

  1.  Complex File Structures If your business relies on file paths longer than 400 characters or has intricate folder hierarchies, SharePoint’s sync tool might struggle. This complexity can cause sync issues and even lead to data loss.
  2.  Large Files with Multiple Users For businesses where multiple users need to work on the same large files (such as CAD drawings or graphic design files), SharePoint’s file locking can be problematic. These applications lock files during use, which can hinder collaboration and lead to synchronisation issues.
  3.  Poor Internet Connection A slow or unreliable internet connection can severely affect the performance of OneDrive and SharePoint, making it difficult to access and manage your data efficiently.
  4.  High Data Volume Microsoft offers a generous storage allowance—currently 1TB per organisation plus 10GB per licensed user. However, once these limits are exceeded, additional storage costs rise steeply, at approximately 18p/GB per month. For context, an added 500GB of storage will cost around £90+ VAT per month. While this allowance generally meets the needs of most organisations, some businesses may struggle with these limits. Consider the following scenarios:             a) Large Personal Files: Users that use company SharePoint to store large volumes of personal files, especially large ones like lossless AVI files.                                               b) Multiple versions of files: SharePoint Online has ‘Versioning’ enabled by default. This feature creates a new version of a file every time it is opened and changed, which is useful for recovering from errors by reverting to a previous version. However, for frequently used files, such as project tracker spreadsheets, these versions can quickly accumulate. We’ve seen a single spreadsheet with several hundred versions. Since each version is roughly the same size as the original file, versioning can consume substantial storage space, quickly depleting the SharePoint allowance.
    Microsoft does not make it straightforward to disable versioning, but it is possible—and advisable—to limit it to only a couple of versions.

Exploring Alternative Solutions

If SharePoint doesn’t meet your business needs, consider these alternatives:

1. Azure Files Azure Files, a service from Microsoft, offers a similar experience to having a physical file server. While it keeps your data within the Microsoft ecosystem, it does come with additional costs. However, it’s generally less expensive than additional SharePoint storage.

2. Business-Grade Cloud Products Services like Dropbox Business and Box for Business offer unlimited storage and robust security features for around £18 per user per month. These options offer a reliable alternative to SharePoint with the added benefit of unlimited storage.

3. On-Site Physical File Server Despite the trend towards cloud computing, on-site physical storage can be advantageous, especially for storing and working on very large files. This can be in the form of a traditional server or a NAS Box (Network Attached Storage), which acts as a dedicated storage server.

4. Hybrid Storage Solutions A hybrid approach might be the most practical. Store your frequently used files on OneDrive or SharePoint, and move larger, less often accessed files to physical storage devices such as a NAS or even a portable USB drive. This strategy balances the convenience of cloud storage with the capacity of physical storage. You can read more about the available options in our previous blog for World Backup Day.

Making the Right Choice

Choosing the right data storage solution for your business involves considering your specific needs and constraints. OneDrive and SharePoint offer excellent integration and functionality for many businesses, but they aren’t one-size-fits-all solutions. By understanding their limitations and exploring alternatives, you can ensure your business’s data storage is efficient, secure, and cost-effective.

 

If you’re unsure about the best option for your business, please get in touch to discuss your requirements, we’d welcome the opportunity to guide you through the available options to help find your best-fit solution.

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