Office 365 Cloud Storage: OneDrive and SharePoint

Microsoft Office 365 offers two distinct ways to store, edit, and share files in the cloud: OneDrive and SharePoint. These tools allow you to never have to worry about losing an important document because of a hard drive failure or find yourself unable to access a file when working from a different location. For faculty and staff at USC, these are essential tools that should be used to securely store all work-related files, and this overview will outline each platform and when they should both be used.


OneDrive is Microsoft’s solution for personal cloud storage. Personal files and documents related to work at USC should be saved directly to OneDrive and can accessed from anywhere. USC Staff and Faculty Office 365 accounts have 5 terabytes of OneDrive storage.

Creating and Uploading Files

You can create new folders and files directly in OneDrive using the +New button, and these will automatically be stored on the cloud. If you have existing folders or files that you’d like to move over to OneDrive you can use the Upload option to bring them online.

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Sharing in OneDrive

Since OneDrive is your personal cloud storage solution, the files and folders stored here are private. By default no other users can access your documents stored on OneDrive, but if you do need to provide access to others there are a few simple ways to do that.

Each file and folder in OneDrive has a Share icon next to the file name. Hovering over the file will display the icon, and clicking it will bring up the Share menu. Here you can enter in the name or email of the Office 365 user you wish to share the file or folder with, and you can also include a brief message that will be sent along with the file.

You can also click the People you specify can edit > button above the field where you enter a name to specify whether or not you want to provide editing privileges to the person you’re sharing with and also if you’d like to share the file with just the person you’ve specified or if you’d like to generate a shareable link that can be accessed by any Office 365 user in the USC network.

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SharePoint is Microsoft’s cloud storage solution for teams, departments, and working groups. Files and folders stored in SharePoint “Sites” can be accessed by different team members without the need for manually sharing each file individually.

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Team vs Communication Site

When creating a SharePoint site you’ll be given the option to create a Team or a Communication site. Communication sites are great for sharing information between different teams or departments within an organization, and Microsoft provides a set of templates and options to display the Communication site’s files, pages, and updates in a variety of ways. Team sites serve as file repositories and should be the go-to solution for teams looking to collaborate on documents together or make resources available for reference in the future.

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Document Control and Version History

SharePoint provides enhanced options for managing individual documents and folders.

Office 365 automatically saves multiple versions of documents as they are being edited, allowing for you to revert to an older version should an error occur or an edit need to be undone. Version History can be found in the drop down menu for each file by clicking the “” menu.

Along with Version History, the drop down menu for each file or folder also lists an option to Manage Access. This allows you to select individual users or groups of users who should either be granted viewing or editing privileges for that specific file or folder. By default, all users added to a SharePoint site will have access to the files uploaded to it, so the Manage Access option will allow you to restrict access to some folders or documents if necessary.