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Five Tips for Organizing Document Storage in OneDrive and Sharepoint

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Cloud-based document storage tools like OneDrive and SharePoint have evolved to deliver multiple ways to organize and find files. Yet, many users still manage their document storage using outdated methods, even after moving their document storage to the cloud. In this week’s blog, we’re providing a few tips to help make organizing document storage easier in OneDrive and SharePoint.

Tip 1: Make OneDrive Your Default Save Location

Although in more recent versions of Office, OneDrive is the default save location, many users are still in the habit of saving files to a directory on their hard drive when working with documents, and then later uploading them to their cloud storage. We encourage saving documents in OneDrive instead so that your file is backed up at all times.

Working in OneDrive and using the automatic sync function ensures that if there is a problem with your computer or in the case of a disaster, you’ll be able to access the most recent version of your file saved to the cloud the next time you log in. Saving to OneDrive cloud storage also helps saves space on your hard drive.

Tip 2: Sync Your Device and OneDrive

But what about when you’re not connected to the internet? That’s where your OneDrive auto save and sync function comes in. To get the most from OneDrive, it’s important to make sure that the Auto Save and sync function between your device and OneDrive are set up and working properly.

From your desktop, you can simply and easily check and adjust your OneDrive sync settings by right clicking on the OneDrive cloud icon in the lower right command ribbon and clicking Settings in the pull-up menu. Set AutoSave to automatically save files in OneDrive on your device when you're offline, and to sync when you’re back online.

onedrive settings auto save

Tip 3: Know When to Use OneDrive vs. Sharepoint

One point of confusion for people who are new to using OneDrive and Sharepoint together is knowing when to use each option. A simple rule of thumb applies: OneDrive is for one-off files, sharing with one other person or when working alone on projects that you may later make available in Sharepoint. Sharepoint – as the name implies – is for sharing.

In practice, that means that if your file is one that only you will be using and it is not part of a larger project, it should be saved to OneDrive. If, on the other hand, the file is part of a larger project or needed by other team members, then it makes sense to save it to Sharepoint in a team site directory.

Tip 4: Share Links, not Files

An advantage of saving to OneDrive or Sharepoint rather than your computer’s hard drive or an on-premise file share site is how easy it becomes to share files using file links rather than the old method of sending files via email to your coworkers or business partners.

You can share from within your document by clicking the arrow button in the upper right command ribbon. This opens a dialog box where you can send the link or a copy of the file and control access to the document. The default allows anyone with the link to edit it, but if you want to limit it to specific individuals, you can alter that setting by clicking on the green globe. After adjusting the edit settings, click "copy link" at the bottom of the dialog box and paste into email, a document or a messaging application. You can also send the link via Outlook email right from OneDrive. Sharing links works similarly in Sharepoint, where you can share a link from a document or page.

share link dialog

Tip 5: Organize Sharepoint Correctly

Lastly, once those shareable files are moved out of OneDrive and into Sharepoint, how do you keep them organized? 

Unlike OneDrive, which can be organized using the same folder-based system that is familiar to most of us, your organization’s Sharepoint site is typically made up of a collection of team sites (a site collection) for different functions within your organization, such as Marketing, HR or Finance. Within each of those team sites are document libraries where individual files and folders can be stored.

However, although folders are available in Sharepoint, it’s actually preferable to limit their use for a few reasons.

  • One, folders can make it difficult for users to know where to find the files they’re seeking.
  • Two, every file in Sharepoint is also a web page with a unique URL; folders add complexity to navigation and create a very long URL. This can be a problem when sharing files via link and takes up extra storage space in Sharepoint.
  • Three, you may end up with duplicate versions of the same files, making it difficult to determine which file is the right one to use. Worse, files may become lost when accidentally stored in the wrong folder.

A better way to organize files within Sharepoint is to use the Metadata feature. Metadata allows you to use information about the document to organize and find it more easily anywhere on your Sharepoint site. With metadata, you can organize your documents not just by author or date, but based on what they are and how they’ll be used. For instance, you can add metadata to organize files in a number of ways, such as:

  • Document type, such as invoices or reports,
  • Media type, such as video, images or documents,
  • Client or project name, such as for a professional services organization.

Using this feature, finding last year’s invoices, the latest marketing collateral, or all the files related to a client or customer becomes a much easier task.

Tolar Can Help You Transition Document Storage to the Cloud

Transitioning your document storage to cloud-based options such as OneDrive and Sharepoint can streamline the way your organization saves, manages and shares its documents, making collaboration a breeze. To learn more about transitioning your document storage to the cloud, contact Tolar Systems today.

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