OneDrive vs SharePoint - when should a shared folder in OneDrive be moved to a SharePoint site?

Frequent Contributor

For small teams that don't need all of the overhead of an M365 Group, a Teams Chat group and a shared folder in OneDrive can be a viable solution.  As per my post title - when would a Team outgrow OneDrive for collaboration purposes?  


How many files would be too many for OneDrive?  How many group members would be too many?  I am trying to find a clear and objective line to draw in the sand.


26 Replies
To me it's not a matter of "how many files", it's a matter of purpose: "When to use What?"
Here a YouTube video that might help you:
best response confirmed by atrain204 (Frequent Contributor)
As Pydel mentioned, it's not how many files necessarily. It's who, what and where.
If you think of the files in the traditional paper filing cabinet sense, what does that look like? Does each person on the team have their own filing cabinet, and everyone shares a little with all the others? Do I have to remember that Sally has one file I want, Bill has another, and John has yet another? Each one of them would then have to share with the individuals on the team, and each individual would have to remember where everything is. SharePoint allows for that one-stop location, without loss of business continuity when team members leave or new ones join.
you can overcome some of this by picking one person that stores all of the files in a single location, and then shares with the team, but what happens when that person leaves? For a team, solely using OneDrive has the potential of being an organizational nightmare.
Check out Matt Wade's jumpto365 where he answers what to use when

Good luck



In addition to the good info already provided, you might find this Microsoft article useful: Should I save files to OneDrive or SharePoint? - Office Support (



Matt's articles are awesome. Thanks for sharing, it gave me some good perspective to consider..

My original intension is to consider groups that cannot easily create to support their own SharePoint site (for reasons) and figure out what the best way for them to setup a collaborative space with OneDrive and Teams chat (without ignoring the risks).

Certainly using OneDrive for Business to be an alternative for groups could work. I think it just would require laying out some ground rules. I assume they would then create a group chat in Microsoft Teams to communicate. Designate one user to be the "Folder Keeper," then they could create a new tab at the top of the chat, make it a website with the link pointing to the "Folder Keeper's" OneDrive folder location. This would allow easy access to the rest of the group.
I know I would miss the ability to break out conversation topics into Channels like in a Team. Still, you could probably make extra group chats and label them based on a topic; then, you could make another tab with a link to another OneDrive folder location.
Just an opportunity to get creative!!!

Agreed about the ground rules! I was thinking that the "Folder owner" could embed a word document to the tab with links to the shared folder and any other key resources they need.
Yes, governance is necessary. Over time, if left unfettered, people forget what to use when. I look at the difference between OneDrive and SharePoint Online would deal with how collaboration will be done. If it is with 1-3 other individuals, OneDrive would suffice. Any more than that, I would be looking toward Teams/SharePoint Online for that point of collaboration.
The Modern Collaboration Architecture materials may help you. To me this method of implementing OneDrive breaks the individual vs team collaboration model and is often difficult to manage due to employee churn and more. Shared folders are great for very small organizations, or static shared content that one user maintains personally for others. But this sort of Team collaboration is exactly what Teams is for. What is stopping you from just creating a team, maybe for a larger topic and having the documents in a channel i.e. SharePoint? Every team has its own SharePoint site so the art is what the core function the team is about, so that channels have a topic or center of gravity.

At any rate I hope this information is helpful:



What is the perceived overhead of an M365 group? Do users have to request them via your IT helpdesk or can they just create them? Either way, setting up a Group or Team should be straightforward and should not be a barrier.


To answer your questions, I would advise very limited use of OneDrive sharing. You outgrow OneDrive as soon as you share a file with more than one person. Basically all I use it for is when I have prepped some personal development or HR data and want to share it with one person, e.g.: line manager or HR officer.


As soon as the purpose for that sharing is collaboration/project/team work of any sort then OneDrive becomes sub-optimal. Teams or SharePoint should be the norm, so the "line in the sand" should really be when do you even create a file in OneDrive ;)

I've come across some situations where the client's IT department charges other departments for the creation and maintenance of M365 Groups. Not a common practice, but it's out there.

With practices like that, I started thinking about how many other working-groups may be dependent on Chat and OneDrive for collaboration. While asking myself "how can we best set them up for success without SharePoint and Team channels?" and "Where do we draw the line?".

Don't get me wrong, I always push for SharePoint for group collaboration. But when the client pushes back with "we need to use (or prefer) chat" then I want to be able to help them understand how to make it work, and educate them on when/how it will stop working.


Fair enough... it's still hard to quantify the number of files or users though. The main pain point usually occurs in access management, e.g.,

  • someone new joins the project and needs access in John's OneDrive but John is on vacation
  • John accidentally shared a file with the wrong person and InfoSec has no idea and no audit trail,
  • or John has left the company but all the files are in his OneDrive :o

Just the productivity loss caused by these incidents is greater than the overhead of setting up a Team, so if the client insists they need to know they are operating at risk.



Another important factor is training, and practice, and more training. Maybe a weekly or bi-weekly 15 minute session that demonstrates the expectations of how file sharing should be done, the benefits of when it's done right, and the challenges created when it's not.


To me, it's a lot about organization: being organized -- or not. And the reality is, some people are highly organized, and some seem to excel in the midst of apparent chaos -- they can go and pluck that file out of a buried folder with an ambiguous name, no problem. Where it becomes a problem, however, is when organized and "disorganized" people have to work together on a team; this is where a standard needs to be set. If the whole team knows that all the files they need for a given project can be found in the team's channel(s) (SharePoint) that's going to make life a lot easier, less frustrating, and more efficient.


An example I like to use is to imagine a family of four who all take turns washing dishes and clearing up the kitchen. Imagine if everyone had their own idea of where things should go. One thinks the silverware should be in the pantry, another puts mugs in the cupboard under the sink, another thinks the oven is the best place to store bread, and butter will last longer in the back of the freezer, etc., etc.; the result is that no one ever really knows where anything is. Good luck cooking in that kitchen! I'm a firm believer in the French idea "Mise En Place": Everything in its place! It can be applied to files too.

Loving all the input on this conversation!

As a counterpoint, imagine a magical kitchen where you can just say "butter" and it comes flying from the back of the freezer (or wherever) and lands on the counter in front of you... Search tools in Office 365 mean we are less reliant on knowing where data is (so that we can navigate to retrieve it). A topic for another thread perhaps ;)


As Graham says, it's about the team agreeing how they are going to work. Check out to learn about something I was only introduced to today - Collaboration Contracts.

Search is mighty in 365 nowadays, but, to me, it's still no match for knowing exactly where a file lives. While "the searcher" is going through the 20 files that were returned in the search results trying to determine which is the correct one, or, worse yet, opens the wrong one and bases important decisions upon it, "the knower" has opened the correct file, gone over it with the team, and headed out to lunch. This will likely result in the searcher resenting the knower, but that's probably a topic for another convo. ;)

The Collaboration Contract link that you shared is excellent! Right on target!


But wouldn't having a Champions program do just the same as a collaboration contract? Part of the Champions program is to keep a consistent message going during adoption and throughout the life cycle of the application. I believe we need to keep the focus on how our end users want to function and make sure we point them in the right direction.

While some companies are more comfortable with the chat functionality of Teams and can do their collaboration through that chat, others want to use the team to its fullest capacity and really trick out the team and all of the connections that come with it.

We should make sure that our governance that we put in place matches the culture of the organization. That way we can mold the use of those applications and then start to move them into more of the MOCA model. It is a slower process, but it is easier on the end user experience.

If we try to force a way of thinking that our end users reject, they will find something else that they feel more comfortable in using.

@Shaun Jennings 


I don't see it as an either/or kind of thing. I think many of the ideas presented in the Collaboration Contract could be incorporated into a champions program. According to the author, a collaboration contract is defined as: A common understanding, Shared Expectations, and Comfort using the tools, all of which I would consider to be foundations of a healthy working environment.

Interesting points. I don’t think a company wide Collaboration Contract is workable, but a Champion within a department could support a team in setting up a contract, based on overall principles, but tweaked for that team.

@TerenceR_-_Transparity I can see that it would be the champion(s) of a department that would create and manage the Collaboration Contract, but I would also assume that is something that we, as GAs, would be teaching our champion(s) to do in the first place. (at least if I am understanding what the Collaboration Contract is to be)