SharePoint vs. OneDrive for Business: Which is Right for You?

Nearly all North American organizations (97 percent) use the cloud, whether for back up protection or big data analytics. Cloud file storage in particular is popular due to its easy storage and retrieval of files, 24/7, from anywhere and on any connected device. Companies have many platform options for cloud storage, but two of the most popular are SharePoint and OneDrive, both from Microsoft. There is a lot of confusion over the differences between SharePoint vs. OneDrive for Business. Let’s evaluate the five key components of these two document management systems to help you make an informed decision on which is best for your organization.

But First, What is SharePoint vs. OneDrive for Business?

Launched in 2001, SharePoint provides storage and lots more, letting users collaborate on files, documents and projects. It comes with a large range of document libraries, task lists, calendars, workflows, wikis and other features, all from a shared company web portal. 

OneDrive for Business is, in essence, a simplified version of SharePoint. (There are differences between the personal and business versions of OneDrive, but we’ll focus on the business version here.) With OneDrive, files that would usually be saved to a folder on a user’s work desktop or laptop can now be stored on the cloud, without a lot of extra bells and whistles.

  1. Collaboration and Document Management
    SharePoint was designed specifically as team collaboration software for businesses that need multiple individuals and teams to work on documents and products at the same time. Features like a mailbox, custom lists and web pages are all part of the platform. Users access SharePoint via a branded company page that can include news, calendars, tasks and more. SharePoint provides countless options for integration and customization. 

    OneDrive is typically used by individuals and business teams who need a central location to store and access files, and not much else. As a user, you are assigned a personal account in which to keep your individual documents. When you want to share a document, you email links to your team members.

  1. Web Publishing
    Many companies use SharePoint’s engine to build and maintain their company website, internal documentation and even web apps. By publishing documents directly to the organization’s branded website, you can make them available for access and download by customers or employees. There are also internal analytics tools to build help documentation, FAQ pages, add customizable features and more 

    With OneDrive, while you can email links to documents, you cannot publish those documents directly to a web page from the OneDrive platform. You’ll need Office 365 or another CMS/website platform to publish your work publicly.

  1. Security
    SharePoint provides much greater control of user access. You can specify various access privileges to restrict which team members are allowed to view certain files or information. This is a great option for sharing information within teams or divisions, and restricting what information can be shared outside these groups. 

    With OneDrive, any user with the right link can access your files without logging in. This increases the chances of confidential data loss or theft.

  1. Setup and Training
    With SharePoint, you need the right expertise to set it up correctly. This means you may need to consult IT specialists who are more familiar with the software. SharePoint also requires training to fully understand it, and use it. 

    OneDrive is intuitive; most users with web or file sharing experience can get started immediately.

  1. Pricing
    SharePoint has high monthly costs, and the initial cost of infrastructure, license and customization can also be substantial. 

    You get what you pay for! While both OneDrive and SharePoint have subscription models, OneDrive fees are significantly less expensive.

SharePoint vs. OneDrive for Business–Which Should You Choose?

If you’re looking for collaborative document management system for your business, SharePoint may be the ideal solution. But if you’re looking for individual back up protection and storage only, OneDrive should do the job. If you’re still unsure when deciding between SharePoint vs. OneDrive for Business, it might be better to consult an expert. At Single Path, we regularly meet with small-to-medium size businesses, schools and other organizations to determine the optimal solutions for their unique needs, from managed cloud services to security solutions. We’ll find the best service providers, reduce costs, improve accessibility and back it all with attentive, personalized support. We help you make a smart choice when looking at SharePoint vs. OneDrive for Business, and more.

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On-Premise vs. Cloud Storage: Which is Best for You?

On-premise storage means that you use your own server hardware and software, likely stored in your building, to house your data. Cloud storage, on the other hand, resides in remote servers across town or across the country. Which option is best for your organization? Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of on-premise vs. cloud storage.

Initial Costs

On-premise data storage necessitates high startup costs. Each server will cost thousands of dollars, and you may need to hire a professional IT company to set it all up. Evaluating, purchasing and installing the equipment may also be time consuming: it may take months to fully integrate a new server.

The cloud, however, demands far less of an initial financial investment, and can typically be launched immediately.

The On-Premise vs. Cloud Initial Costs Winner? Cloud storage. Easy.

Extra Costs

On-premise costs are unpredictable, such as repair costs, which can be excessive. Systems also must be upgraded regularly and require regular maintenance. Some companies delay or avoid that regular maintenance which can eventually lead to operational downtime and loss of data.

On-premise storage costs also include:

  • Powering a single server, for instance, can cost over $1,000/year, per server.
  • The cost of ongoing depreciation, and server replacement can be substantial. Servers typically last for about six years, after which they may become obsolete and need to be replaced.
  • Mainframe equipment, for example, may need a full-time IT professional or a team to manage servers and troubleshoot.

Cloud storage providers, on the other hand, have a very different payment model. They charge by the amount of data you need stored, charging you a set fee every month, like a subscription. Generally, that will be your only cost, as the provider is responsible for upgrading its technology and installing the latest security protocols, upgrades and advances. The savings can be substantial: SherWeb conducted a study in which it found the average cost of an on-premise server was $1,476.31 per month, while the average cost of a cloud server was $313.90 per month. But, high storage needs means high fees. Organizations that need several Petabytes of data storage often find monthly cloud services costs are so high they’re prohibitive.

The On-Premise vs. Cloud Extra Costs Winner? Probably the cloud, but It depends on how much storage you need.

Scalability

On-premise scalability can be difficult. If your data storage demand grows, new equipment may need to be ordered, paid for, and installed before the storage can be used. When you include labor, testing and downtime while making the upgrades, the costs and time add up. If you need to reduce your storage, you’re still stuck with the same equipment.

With cloud storage, however, more storage means simply purchasing more storage space, which you can use immediately. You can also reduce your storage needs, and monthly fees, when you don’t need as much storage. However, you’ll want to check that storage amount every now and then. Many organizations tend to overbuy their cloud storage space. A 2017 report from RightScale showed that $900 million of cloud storage spend was wasted every year.

The On-Premise vs. Cloud Scalability Winner? Cloud storage, but only if you buy the right amount of storage.

Security

On-premise storage may be more secure, but not always. First of all, no storage is going to be 100% effective at keeping data safe. But local servers are less accessible to hackers than cloud storage (breaches across the cloud are regularly reported by the media). And a survey from Nexsan found that only 58% of IT professionals “considered access to files away from the office to be ‘private and secure’.” And when it came to sharing files outside of the business, only 3% did. Local servers are also at risk from fire, natural disaster and theft.

Cloud security, on the other hand, can be impressive. According to the Annual Cloud Computing Survey (2017), U.S. businesses using the cloud rank its security as a top benefit. And nearly 70% of U.S. businesses that use the cloud feel more comfortable storing data there than on a legacy system. Encryption and other security tools can go a long way to making cloud storage more secure.

The On-Premise vs Cloud Security Winner? Clearly, it depends on who you speak with, but if you use a trusted vendor, like Single Path, to set up and manage your cloud storage, you should feel confident your cloud storage is just as safe as keeping it local.

Accessibility

In 2017, 43% of Americans spent at least some of their time working remotely (According to the NY Times), and that number is rising. The ability to work off-site has been shown to increase productivity, operational efficiency and business agility.

For on-premise storage, however, accessibility is limited. Getting and sharing files can be slow and difficult.

With cloud computing, accessibility is a major advantage. Since data exists “in the cloud” any gadget connected to the Internet can access it, anywhere, at any time.

The On-Premise vs. Cloud Accessibility Winner? This is an easy one. Cloud computing.

The On-Premise vs. Cloud Storage Winner Can Be You

While cloud storage has many advantages in many areas, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for you. While most small-to-midsize companies will find significant cost savings with cloud storage, others may find their exorbitant amount of data makes cloud storage too expensive. If you’re unsure, call us. At Single Path, we help clients navigate their server options every day, including helping them get on the cloud, secure their data, and modernize their systems. We provide Managed Cloud Services for many organizations, from businesses to school districts. So, which option, on-premise or cloud storage, is best for you? Call us and let’s find the best solution.

USB Security Risks: When Flash Drives Become Dangerous

Flash drive. Thumb drive. Jump drive. USB stick. Whatever you call it, most of us have at least one of these ubiquitous, simple devices. The very first USB drive—called the DiskOnKey—held a whopping 8MB of data. Today, they not only hold countless gigabytes, but they may also hold numerous USB security risks; so can charging ports, memory sticks and other common devices.

Beware the USB

Malware or a virus can be loaded into a flash drive, which can then automatically infect a machine when the user inserts the stick into it. Back in 2014 some security researchers showed how easy this was; and things haven’t changed much. Researchers have shown how malware from a USB stick can take control of a computer, upload files, track browser history, infect software and even provide a hacker remote keyboard control. In many cases the problems can’t be patched, infected files can’t be cleaned, and the infection almost impossible to detect.

Shared Data, Lost Data

Flash drives are convenient, but their size also makes them USB security risks. Recently, IBM banned workers from using them for work, along with any removable memory device. As reported by the BBC, IBM cited the possibility of “financial and reputational” damage if staff lost or misused the devices.

IBM is being cautious, and for good reason. A few months ago, the University of Toledo made news when a faculty member lost a flash drive filled with social security numbers (as reported by the Toledo Blade). In 2017, an insurance underwriter paid a $2.2 million HIPAA breach settlement after a USB drive containing sensitive health information of more than 2,200 people was stolen from its IT department.

Even deleting the information from a USB drive isn’t always effective for USB security, as the devices can leave traces of files behind, or even full copies, which an expert hacker can recover.

Charging Malware

Using a flash drive isn’t the only USB security risk. Many modern laptops can now be charged through the USB port, a tremendous convenience but one that can leave a machine open for attack. Much like thumb drives, these small USB chargers are borrowed and shared, and lost and replaced. Like USB chargers, they can also be booby trapped to inject malware, root kits and other malicious infections into a computer, allowing the hacker access to files and data.

Getting the Drop on USB Security

Not every trick is high tech, as shown in this simple ploy: a hacker drops an infected USB drive on the ground, which is then picked up and used, infecting a computer. According to an article by digital news company Mic, researchers dropped a few hundred USB devices around the University of Illinois, even going as far as attaching keys or a return mailing address to some of them. Incredibly, 48% of the 300 devices they dropped were picked up and plugged into a computer.

Laptop Leaving

USB devices aren’t the only portable devices that can put you at risk. Have you ever left a laptop on the table at a coffee shop while you stood in line, or ran to the restroom? Even if your laptop is where you left it when you return, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been compromised.

A test of Google’s Chrome browser showed how easy and fast it is to steal passwords from an unguarded screen. One reporter for the Guardian says he tried exactly that: and stole 52 passwords in 57 seconds. If your computer doesn’t have a master password, it’s a simple procedure to access every web password you have.

USB Security and the GDPR

Recently, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) was implemented for Europe, with a whole new set of rules regarding privacy protection and sharing of information. We reported on this in great detail in an earlier blog post. One interesting aspect of the GDPR is in regards to USB drive compliance. Keeping customer information safe and secure, with only limited employee access to this data, is at the heart of the GDPR. The failure to use an encrypted USB stick to transport data can be considered a breach of protocols and result in hefty fines.

Security Protocols

Instead of relying on antiquated USB devices to share files, most companies should switch to cloud computing, which allows for safe storage and accessibility of files across a secured network. We wrote a blog post recently in which we listed a number of practices small-to-medium sized businesses should implement immediately, including amping up their cyber security, going to the cloud, and finding the right tech partner to assist them in setting it all up.

As security experts, Single Path is that “right partner” for many organizations. We know a thing or two about USB security, and even more about network security and data security. We help our clients implement proactive infrastructure patch management, provide a security risk assessment and much more. We also offer a full slate of managed cloud services, giving you access to the best cloud technologies without high initial costs or ongoing investments in upgrades.

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