How SharePoint File Services Can Benefit Your Business

April 21st, 2020 | Microsoft 365

Getting Started: Resources to Understand the SharePoint Online Experience

This material is a great starting point for getting familiar with SharePoint.

  • Differences between SharePoint and a traditional file server 
  • Understanding Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams 
  • Microsoft SharePoint Search capabilities 
  • Microsoft SharePoint collaboration capabilities with Microsoft Office applications 
  • Microsoft SharePoint local file synchronization 
  • Microsoft SharePoint file versioning and self-service recovery 
  • Microsoft SharePoint mobility and mobile phone documents access 

Microsoft: SharePoint Online Video Training 

How Would Microsoft Office 365 SharePoint Online Collaboration File Services Benefit My Business?

Many organizations still use traditional network file services to store their documents, spreadsheets, presentations, images, and more. Network file servers served an important purpose but had limitations versus today’s standards for mobility, security, convenience, and scalability. Searching to find content in a traditional network file share can be time-consuming, and maintaining authorized access to shared file resources from outside the office can be challenging. Files stored in traditional file server locations were difficult to share and collaborate on, often restricting access to one individual at a time, or encouraging emailing full copies of files to internal and external recipients as bulky attachments. This caused email system capacity and performance issues but also created business process problems with conflicting versions and updates.

Modern workers also expect to have easily accessible personal file storage for their business files that can follow them across multiple devices. This makes sharing content with coworkers or outside parties intuitive, provides good protection and performance while traveling, and takes some of the guesswork out of how to save your work.

Microsoft SharePoint Online, part of the Microsoft Office 365 group of cloud subscription services, overcomes these limitations and is meant to be your single, shared, collaborative storage and set of tools for storing, finding, collaborating, and synchronizing your business files. Properly implemented, SharePoint Online saves costs by eliminating the need to maintain and operate a traditional network file server. It improves collaboration by permitting multiple people to work in Microsoft Office files at the same time. It also improves mobility and performance by permitting individuals in your organization to choose to synchronize groups of files to their assigned office computer. This gives them local machine speed for their work while synchronizing it to SharePoint and the rest of your organization in the background. It encourages strong data protection by providing each individual in your organization their own personal file area, automatically synchronized between their office computer(s) and Microsoft’s cloud data centers, protecting important documents from loss due to a personal computer hardware failure. SharePoint also gives you ubiquitous access to business documents across multiple devices.

Microsoft SharePoint FAQs

What’s the difference between “Microsoft Office 365” and “Microsoft Office”? 

Microsoft Office 365 is a subscription suite of services and product licenses with multiple license levels available.  Most Microsoft Office 365 services have to do with the cloud and online products that manage data and communication flow behind the scenes, or that you can access with a web browser.   

“Microsoft Office” generally refers to the productivity application suite, which usually includes Outlook, Word, Excel,  PowerPoint, and other applications. Most common Microsoft Office 365 subscription levels include a subscription license to install the Microsoft Office application suite products on computers in your organization. Most Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions also include browser-based equivalents for the Microsoft Office applications, as well as licensing for the Microsoft mobile applications. 

What’s the difference between “Microsoft SharePoint Online” and “Microsoft Office 365”?

Unlike Microsoft Office 365 mentioned above, SharePoint Onlineis the file and collaboration service that your Microsoft Office applications can connect to for file storage, and that supports search and synchronization with the Microsoft OneDrive client application. Using the term “Microsoft SharePoint Online” is the most-technically-correct way of saying you’re subscribed to Microsoft’s cloud-based file and collaboration services, but from a practical perspective, most every organization subscribing to any Microsoft Office 365 suite has Microsoft SharePoint Online in their subscription. However, you’ll often hear people say they use “Office 365” or “Microsoft Office 365” for their file services. 

Will our copiers, scanners, and applications’ file functions work with Microsoft Office 365? 

In most cases, yes.  Most all devices and applications updated within the last five years support the current generation file access and security protocols required to interoperate with Microsoft Office 365.

If you have an older application that expects to use a mapped drive letter or a Universal Naming Convention (UNC) path (such as servernamefileshare), we can often work with the application’s vendor support to confirm the application’s capabilities and options for Microsoft Office 365 integration. For some applications, we can establish workarounds or less-secure access methods to still permit the application to work. In many cases, updating to current application versions resolves compatibility constraints and often results in a more secure, more supportable environment. 

If you use scan-to-file or file library access from your copiers or scanners, it’s important that we validate with your copier vendor or manufacturer that your device has a current confirmation of Microsoft SharePoint Online compatibility. This sometimes requires updating the firmware of your copier or scanner. Some older copiers and scanners do not have the current security capabilities required by Microsoft Office 365. In those cases, for send capability, we can often implement interim workarounds until you’re able to consider replacement of the older equipment in your usual budget cycle. 

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