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Creating a shared folder - what's the "official" method?

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Occasional Contributor

Hello fellow admins,

 

I recently embarked on trying to move our organization to a standard cloud file-hosting solution. I'd like to create several shared folders available to employees, although the process seems more complicated that it could be. I'm wondering if there's supposed to be an "official" way to create a shared folder for an organization, emphasizing that the folder is not owned or controlled by any one particular member?

 

Here's what I've done so far:

  • Create a Sharepoint site for the files if one is not ready
  • Open the site contents view, and open the Documents folder
  • If everything is configured as it should be, there will be a Sync button in the toolbar. Clicking this will begin syncing the contents of that folder to your computer.

A few drawbacks/complaints I have about this is that you can't really provision folders for users or groups - as far as I can tell, the syncing must be manually initiated on the machines of users who will be using the folder. It would also be really great if the sharing could be setup and configured in one place separate of SharePoint sites, perhaps in the OneDrive admin center?

 

Am I doing this whole process wrong, or are there better ways other people use?

 

Thank you!

10 Replies
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Best Response confirmed by Glen Bakeman (Occasional Contributor)
Solution
No, your doing it the only way you can do it through the standard SharePoint / OneDrive UI. The automating of joining to shared folders is something the OneDrive team is looking at but nothing can be done out of box. I believe their might be a few 3rd party solutions that can manage the automation as well.
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Hi Chris,

 

It's definitely not a dealbreaker for me, but at the same time I'll be eagerly awaiting to see what features Microsoft has in store for the future. Thank you for confirming the process!

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@Glen Bakeman wrote:

Hello fellow admins,

 

I recently embarked on trying to move our organization to a standard cloud file-hosting solution. I'd like to create several shared folders available to employees, although the process seems more complicated that it could be. I'm wondering if there's supposed to be an "official" way to create a shared folder for an organization, emphasizing that the folder is not owned or controlled by any one particular member?

 

[...]

 

Am I doing this whole process wrong, or are there better ways other people use?


I wouldn't say that you are "doing it wrong" but I want to emphasise that you want to achieve something with a specific outcome in your mind.

 

You are talking about "a standard cloud file-hosting solution". Sharepoint is not a file-hosting solution but can be used as one. After you've created a Sharepoint document library and gave "All user, except external users" the access rights you are all done. Your users can use this document library automatically. If they want to sync the files to their computer they can do it. If they don't want to sync they can skip this part.

 

 

I know that many companies want to have exactly one file server where all documents are available in one (huge) folder structure. But be aware that you still have restrictions about how many files can be stored in any one library. The limits have been increased drastically over the last few years but there are still restrictions and recommendations to not store more than 300000 files in a single team site library or sync more than 300000 files across all document libraries.

 

From this point of view it makes sense to split a (huge) list of files and use more than one document library. Your users can later choose which ones they want to sync and which they don't. This means that you have to educate your users how to do this manually but at the same time you could also show them other features of Sharepoint.

 

 

But this would propably change the way how your company works with shared files.

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Alex,

 

I really appreciate the tips and warnings about using Sharepoint for file hosting. I have to admit, I've been a little confused about how Sharepoint and OneDrive (for Business) are intertwined. For example, if I look at my personal OneDrive space online, I have the ability to view files in Sharepoint sites from the same UI. In addition, if I drill down into advanced file permissions, I'm taken to a Sharepoint page for managing said permissions. It makes me wonder if OneDrive is using Sharepoint as some sort of underlying technology, maybe even as the core file storage system?

 

At any rate though, I'm just happy to have a solution and to have the knowledge you've given me. Many thanks!

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You are right about onedrive! Onedrive is Basically a SharePoint library with explicit permissions for you!

Adam
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Hi @Glen Bakeman,

 

Hopefully I can help clear this up a little bit! Here's the way we like to talk about things:

  • OneDrive is the Files app for Office 365
    • You can access your personal files (e.g. your "OneDrive")
    • You can access your teams files (e.g. the shared libraries/document libraries that are associated with SharePoint sites)
  • SharePoint lets you build powerful intranet sites
    • These sites can be for news, for internal projects and for many many more things.
    • These sites can also have shared libraries assosicated with them for files that are assosciated with the project/site.

Both products are built upon a common framework and share common code so that no matter which app you happen to be using to look at files, you get the same great experience in both. And of course you get all of the security & controls that we've built into the product over the years.

 

Hope that helps!

 

Stephen Rice

OneDrive Program Manager II

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Well, yes, it is confusing because the UI is not always as clear as it could be. There is an awful lot of mixup between the old interface and the new one which can be very confusing. It is and will get better over time.  ;)

 

My biggest tip (and warning) is that you should not try to share single files or folders with few users. This can get very confusing in a very short time. Instead use Sharepoint permission groups (or simply use "All users, without external users") in order to share whole document libraries or Sharepoint (sub-)sites with groups of people.

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Stephen,

Thank you for that overview, I have a better understanding now of how OneDrive and Sharepoint work together. It makes more sense now with how the OneDrive online UI is setup - you can access both your private files and sharepoint site files in once place. That's actually really convenient.

Alexander,

The manual folder/file sharing thing is definitely something I was hoping I could avoid. Using Sharepoint to organize groups seems to be the ideal solution at this point, so I'm a happy camper. Thanks guys!

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Glad I could help @Glen Bakeman!

 

@Alexander Forst-Rakoczy, I'm curious why you avoid sharing single files and folders? While what you describe certainly works, we do strive to make sharing of individual files & folders both easy to do and easy to manage.

 

Thanks!

 

Stephen Rice

OneDrive Program Manager II

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@Alexander Forst-Rakoczy, I'm curious why you avoid sharing single files and folders? While what you describe certainly works, we do strive to make sharing of individual files & folders both easy to do and easy to manage.

 

We almost never share individual files or folders because we work in projects with hundreds of individual files and folders.

 

Our project managers would have to share

  • project handbooks
  • task lists
  • notes
  • intermediate documents
  • protocols
  • status reports
  • etc.

which would be much more work and clutter up everybody's "shared with me" lists. Our project managers also work in more than one project at the same time. So you would have to assign unique names so that you are able to know which project a shared file belongs to.

 

Instead we use SharePoint Sites for customers and sub-sites for projects with this customer. Everybody has access to the site (and thus to all sub-sites). If external persons have to work in those projects they get access to the respective sub-site.

 

So we only have to create a site and assign the correct access rights once. This also includes access to the respective task-list, notebook, and calendar for the project. Sub-sites inherit the access rights of their main site automatically. If we would use file or folder sharing we would have to think about sharing (and access rights) every time for every single file or folder!

 

We might use Microsoft Teams for some projects in the future, for example when we have projects where people are working in different locations. As of now we simply use physical meetings instead of chats or video conferences.  ;)

 

Microsoft Groups and now Teams focus more on the interaction between participants and single documents. Instead our projects are focused on (lots of) files.

 

TL;DR

We don't "avoid sharing single files and folders". We don't have the need to share single items. Instead we have a need to access lots of files and folders and thus we use SharePoint sites and sub-sites.

 

Alex