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Best practice for using OneDrive for Business

Many users are struggling of how to use OneDrive the optimal way. With OneDrive in this post I mean OneDrive for business (OD4B) and not OneDrive (Consumer), if you don´t know the difference I urge you to read this post.

First of all I need to make clear that OD4B is being run in SharePoint, I have heard users say that the don´t want to use SharePoint so they stick with OD4B. Just look at the URL for OD4B in Office 365 that is (where xxx is the name of the O365 tenant).

I hear a lot of confusion of how to establish a best practice for OD4B, I will in this post share my knowledge from contact with many companies. The experiences I have may not be totally right for all users, I have seen that there is no one-size fits all for OD4B. It is good that there are many options to work with the service.

These are the ways of working with OD4B I will share in this post. Please come up with other if you feel I have missed any, just drop me an email, tweet me using #ovebri or find me on Linkedin.

  • Access your files and folders using the web with your favorite browser. I say files and folders as I believe folders as i want to sync selected files. I know folders is not best practice in SharePoint.
  • Access your files using app for your mobile device. The apps are available for the major mobile devices.
  • Sync the files you need to have access to, do not sync all files. You won´t even be able to sync all files if you have too many files.
  • Another way is to work with developers that are knowledgeable of the OneDrive APIs. The number of APIs that Microsoft are pushing is stunning.
  • If you don´t have access to API developers you can use Flow or PowerApps. Start with some of the samples.

Let me go through some of the ways that I list above, first let´s talk about syncing. I prefer to avoid syncing files for a number of reasons, the most important one is that I many times use my mobile as the access to Internet while I am outside of the office. To prevent eating up my data plan (even though I have a huge plan) I sometime even stop the syncing.

 You can pause syncing for 2, 8 or 24 hours.

By not syncing all I mean that you choose what folders should be synced, this process of choosing folders can be changed in what folders you sync. By deselecting folders from sync the folder and the files in the folders are removed from your device. The main reason to sync is to be able to work offline with the files, even though being offline is a lot less time now when even airlines have wireless access on the planes. Here in Sweden we are graced with having Internet access even in rural areas, I access my files, emails and other services in Office 365 while I am hiking.

The best way to access and work with OD4B is by using a web browser or a mobile app, from the browser you can make use of the good features of SharePoint such as having more columns. Some of these columns should preferably be Managed metadata columns. From the browser it is easy to share files with others, by sharing the file I do not mean attaching the file to an email. Attaching files is old school if you are using Office 365. The best practice is to share the link to the file in your OD4B, this way you don´t fill the email storage and you are sure that the files everyone is working on is the same. I am sure you have experienced that 2 or more people are working together on a file and they are not working on the same version.

By accessing the file from the browser you can make use of the many security features that are a part of Office 365 and the extension EMS. Files can be sent with restrictions on what the recipient can do. You can block the recipient from forwarding the file, copying or printing the content. You can also track and revoke access to the file, in a near future this will be possible even for users that do not use Microsoft as their provider of email. The use of security features will be more important with the EU data regulation for privacy GDPR.

The most important strategy for OD4B is that you should not use it for shared files. The easiest ecplanation I have heard and are preaching is the SharePoint is we-files and OneDrive (for business) is me-files. You should store files that are personal work files in OneDrive and when the files are ready to be shared you move the files to SharePoint. This process has been a lot easier with the feature ”Move to” in Office 365.

For those who do not use Office 365 there is a way to use OneDrive for business if your organisation is using SharePoint 2013 or 2016. I have assisted users with SharePoint on-prem in setting up OneDrive for business so the files still can be stored in Sweden.

If you need more guidance with OneDrive for Business (OD4B) don´t hesitate to contact me.


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