Managing documents in O365: OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online?

Managing documents in O365: OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online?

How do I know if I should save a document in my OneDrive for Business area or on a SharePoint Online site?
sharepoint online vs onedrive for business

That’s it, you have a new Office 365 tenant but you do not know whether to use OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online sites to manage your documents.

It is true that these two tools are similar in terms of document management. In fact, OneDrive for Business works internally as a SharePoint Online library. Many companies do not know SharePoint Online very well and do not know how to create and maintain sites, while a personal area is created automatically in OneDrive for Business for each Office 365 user. Most companies choose the simplest solution: to use OneDrive for Business, that also offers 1TB per user, while SharePoint only offers 1TB globally (+ 10GB per user). What they do not know is that it is very risky because of the deletion of the user’s documents when he is deleted from Office 365.

Deletion of O365 user and personal area

When a user is deleted from Office 365, all their personal information (Exchange Online mail and documentation stored in OneDrive) is deleted after 30 days. It is a default value that can be extended, and retention policies can be established, but even then, the documentation will disappear at some point.

Taking this into account, we can say in a simplistic way that the documents stored in OneDrive are not important for the company.

UPDATE june 2019: in the new O365 admin portal you now have an option to give another user access to the deleted user’s OneDrive files.

So where do I keep my documents?

In general, if the documentation is of some use to the company, it should be in SharePoint Online.

If someone wants to share documents, they should be in SharePoint Online. For some specific case it may be useful to share OneDrive files but if you are going to share files, these files are meant to be use generally hence should not be in OneDrive for Business.

If the documentation is from a single person, you can store it in OneDrive for Business. This is also where many companies make a mistake: we talk here about the documents of a person, not a role. For instance, if there is only one person in the legal department, the legal documents should not be in the OneDrive of the person who currently holds the legal position. If this person changes we will not have a simple option to recover the documentation.


OneDrive and SharePoint Online offer the same characteristics of document management, and while it is true that OneDrive offers more space, it is very dangerous to abuse this solution. Generally, the corporate documentation should be stored in SharePoint Online.

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