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Moving from Dropbox to SharePoint - structure and external sharing questions.

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Occasional Contributor

Hello All,

 

I know we had a very similar post on this subject. But I am trying to make sure I understand sharing and syncing mainly for externals.

 

Background on current company setup:

We currently use Dropbox for company files and project/partner files.

Company files are stored in Team folder and are for internal staff members only. Whereas Project/partner files can be shared with externals such as consultants or partner staff and are stored in separate shared folders.  

 

The easiest way to map our current structure is as follows:

Dropbox/Team Folder (internal only)

Dropbox/Management folder (internal only)

Dropbox/Project Folder A

Dropbox/Project Folder B

Dropbox/Project Folder etc...

Dropbox/Partner Folder etc...

 

We already have all staff with Office Bus Pre.. so I am looking to see if Sharepoint can provide the same functionality.

 

How to apply to SharePoint? (Concept)

My understanding from looking at the guidance on TechNet is that I can form a team site which can be shared with internal staff which will contain a “team folder” document library. Then have subsites for each project folder with its own document library. Then just share subsites will externals without them seeing the main team site.

My only question on this method is how does desktop syncing work for externals users. Are they able to sync and is there a limit on how much they can sync?  

OR

Now there is also “office365 groups” which was mentioned in the other post and now seems default when trying to create a new site. Now it looks very easy to setup and use for internals. However, when inviting external it seems like I must invite them via guest access? With guest access, are they able to sync information down to desktop also?

 

 

Any ideas or clarifications on my questions would be most appreciated!

Thanks,

12 Replies

Just my two cents:

  1. Generally speaking, the trend is now towards modern team sites (AKA Groups), instead of classic team sites. So, you should use Groups, unless you have special reasons to prefer classic team sites.
  2. Generally speaking, the trend is now towards multiple site collections / Groups, instead of subsites. So, you shouldn't use subsites, unless you have special reasons to prefer subsites.
  3. AFAIK, external users cannot sync using NGSC.
  4. Speaking of Groups, you can make an external user a member of the Group, and in this case he/she has full access to the whole Group document library, or you can share individual SPO items (files and/or folders) with an external user that is not member of the Group. The choice depends from your use case.

 

 

Thanks for the info Salvatore.

 

So from your info it's either looks like I separate the folder structure using site collection instead of subsites. So In theory create the site collections in the sharepoint admin centre. So project folder A will be it's own site collection, team documents it's own site collection etc.

 

Or use the Office365 groups and have a "team" group, then a "project folder A" group, etc.

 

So our requirement still needs probably some external users syncing capability, am I right in thinking that external users can still use the old OneDrive for Business standalone client and sync a document libary using the url for both groups and site collections? 

best response confirmed by Shanuj Patel (Occasional Contributor)
Solution

Dropbox is only a cloud storage service. Office 365 is much, much more. Hence when migrating to Office 365 you can choose among many variants.

As I told before, generally speaking, you could use several Groups (each Group comes with its own site collection and its own doclib). But you could very well also use subsites or even different doclibs in the same site collection.

I personally would probably go with Groups, but it's a delicate choice and I cannot give you a more precise advice without a deeper analysis of your use case.

About the sync problem, I would not wish to need Groove to my worst enemy! It's really a horrible piece of software: if you can, stay away from it!

Is it really *necessary* for your external users to sync to their destops? Or maybe it is only a "bad" habit?

 

I have a similar question as we are trying to figure out the best way to more closely collaborate with an affiliate and would like to have a shared document library that syncs down to everyone.  Then I read something like this "Is it really *necessary* for your external users to sync to their desktops? Or maybe it is only a "bad" habit?" and I wonder if I am thinking about it in the wrong way?  Personally, I try my best to never access any Office 365 applications via the web, I have a number of different accounts from two different tenants, and trying to keep things straight when I'm following links from multiple accounts everyday and trying to remember which account my default browser is for and which ones I have to use a second or third browser for is just painful.  But even without those problems, the idea of trying to manage all files and folders via a super slow web interface, having to login every time you want to save something, not having that file you need when you're on a flight, etc... makes me cringe.   The one time I worked in an organization that made heavy use of SharePoint the experience was really simple things just didn't get done, because there was just enough friction in the process to make users want to put it off.

 

Is there something I'm missing here?  Are there benefits to working via the browser and not locally syncing that compensate for the significant downsides?

A couple of comments:

  1. Syncing is not always possible. For example, at the moment, you cannot sync with NGSC a folder shared with you from a user in another tenant.
  2. The web UI gives you access to many more features than the local UI, particularly for SPO doclibs, and such features are continuously updated.
  3. The locally synced files are exposed to local malware attacks: ransomware, in particular.
  4. Office 2016 C2R applications can open and save documents directly to SPO, without the need of explicit login.
  5. OneDrive for IOS (and for Android too, I believe) can sync locally items for offline access.

Just my two cents...

Appreciate the response and points. It is valuable perspective, but I note that none of those, except for possibly point two promise a more efficient way of interacting with your files vs. local access?

We've had a pretty mixed experience so far with SPO, although that could be because we are only trying to use it for document storage and haven't had a reason to explore other features. But things like trying to open a document link instead of an attachment add quite a few more steps. Click on link, wait for browser to open webpage, login to O365, open the file in a browser, download the file to the desktop app, make some changes, save, try to send a link back from recent used files, remember that doesn't work for some reason in my Outlook 2016 (gives an error message every time that it cannot find the file), so browse for the file using the slow Browse Web Locations link, and finally send the file back with your changes. I feel we must be missing something since the process is just so inefficient.

IMHO, you are trying to work today with SPO as you have always worked locally in the past (a bad habit, perhaps? ;) ).

Consider instead this:

  1. You receive a modern attachment (i.e. a file that someone has shared with you) in OWA.
  2. You click on the attachment, which opens directly in another tab of the same browser, without any need to log in again. (BTW, consider adding the work account to Windows, if you are using Windows 10 - and to use Windows 10, if you are not...).
  3. Edit the attachment directly in the relevant Office Online app.
  4. Go back to the OWA tab and send back a message in which you simply say that you have edited the file (without any need to attach it).

Isn't it simpler and more efficient than the old habit?

Just my opinion, of course...

 

Hey everyone, we recently published a post on secure external in SharePoint Online, Box, and other cloud apps. I'm curious to know what the community thinks of this post. Is it helpful? Does it fit with your experience on this topic? 

 

https://www.avepoint.com/blog/strategy-blog/secure-external-sharing-in-sharepoint-online-box-dropbox...

You are likely correct that a lot of this stems from working the old way and not adapting to new workflows, but one issue I have is that I cannot assume constant internet access.  Most of the people I work with live in places where the internet is slow and unreliable, and even in the developed world I find the only way for me to really concentrate on what I'm doing is to disconnect from the internet while I'm doing my work and then reconnect when I need to communicate.  But even ignoring my idiosyncrasies, I find that the browser version of editing is just not full featured enough even for basic changes.  We pretty much never make a change to someone's work without track changes on so that it can be very easy to see what was changed and revert if necessary, which is still not possible I believe in any of the online apps.

 

I really do appreciate you sketching out a workflow with the new systems, because working in a complete browser context had not even occurred to me, and as you sketch it out I can see in some more limited circumstances where you are not juggling multiple accounts and 6 different browsers at anyone time, that this could be a more streamlined approach. 

Of course, working in the cloud with a good quality constant internet connection is difficult.

So difficult, in fact, that it is even questionable, IMHO, if working in the cloud is the right thing to do in such condition.

You are correct that Office online apps are not as powerful as the desktop ones, but is that full power really necessary in all cases? Is it perhaps also a bad habit to use always the desktop Office apps?

About tracking changes, do you need more than Office 365 versioning?

Hey guys, given the topic of sharing in Office 365, I was wondering how you all anticipate the new 'move' feature to impact the everyday user. Could use some feedback on whether or not this post is helpful. Thanks! 

https://www.avepoint.com/blog/strategy-blog/move-sharepoint-office-365-onedrive-for-business/

Should check out skysync...here  http://skysync.com/case-study/skullcandy/

Skullcandy has been running hybrid dropbox and sharepoint/odb for years...

 

With configurable OOTB software.