OneDrive for Business

Microsoft has a public offering called OneDrive. It is a personal online storage service, easily comparable to one you may already know, i.e. Dropbox. You can store files/documents in your OneDrive and access them from anywhere, or you can even send links to people so they can see it, based on the permissions provided. This service is often included if you have an account, or even a Windows Phone – phone pictures and large email attachments and will automatically be uploaded to your personal online storage, OneDrive.

The concept of OneDrive is simple: upload your files/documents, and access them from anywhere. You have 7GB or more of personal storage, depending on factors such as if you have a Windows Phone associated to your account, or if you spend more to get more. It is all about  making simple collaboration achievable.

A Short History Lesson on OneDrive for Business


OneDrive for Business is nothing more than the evolution of a tool named Groove, first seen with Office 2007. The actual idea behind the very unsuccessful Groove tool was to collaborate, and work, on files with our team members, without necessarily having a server. The key feature was synchronizing the files offline on other devices such as the home computer, to continue working with team members. We could say it was Share Point for the very small business, without the server and the nice features. However, it just never took off.

SharePoint Workspace

SharePoint Workspace was the new name it was given with the Office 2010 and with it Groove became a SharePoint tool that allowed end-users to synchronize both libraries and lists, offline. It was to help companies using the now very popular SharePoint platform with people on the road or without having Internet connections to still access important documents. SharePoint Workspace wasn’t bad, though it had so many limitations when you started using it. It just didn’t meet the success Microsoft was hoping. Of course, by this time, Dropbox was becoming a popular service to store documents online, synchronize those documents offline seamlessly on our computer and share using links. Where SharePoint was the big solution platform, the rise of the cloud technology and subscription based offerings started to hurt Microsoft as not everyone always required the big SharePoint platform.

When SharePoint 2013 was released, with it a new version of Groove and SharePoint Workspace, it was called as SkyDrive Pro. It created a lot of confusion since Microsoft had invested a lot in the marketing of SkyDrive, a public offering to compete with the services like Dropbox. But once again, all it did was synchronize SharePoint document Libraries offline through a desktop installation that came with Office 2013.

Microsoft had to rename service from SkyDrive Pro to OneDrive for Business…

OneDrive for Business is first a synchronization tool

The brand for the service of OneDrive for Business does and enables a lot more. However, at the core, it was just a synchronize tool. Either by installing Office 2013 on your computer or through a standalone installer, you would install OneDrive for Business.

OneDrive for Business

Once installed on your system, whenever you click on the button to Sync on a document library, it then launches the tool installed and starts synchronizing.

Technically, this is how OneDrive for Business works. It’s a tool that evolved from Groove and allows you to synchronize offline files/documents you need to work with.

Synchronizing the main OneDrive for Business Library:

OneDrive for Business Library

Synchronizing any SharePoint Document Library:

SharePoint Document

However, the evolution of the SharePoint product and the continuing efforts made by Microsoft to compete on the cloud market, OneDrive for Business is becoming a whole lot more.

A new name for SharePoint MySites

For those of us that came from the SharePoint, we saw another feature called “My Sites” but not quite successful. The idea that every SharePoint user has her/his personal(MySite) site to store documents/files, something I often saw as a replacement to the popular “My Documents” for the new-age Web.

From SharePoint 2013, they changed the name My Site for this feature and branded it with the name of the synchronization tool itself, OneDrive for Business. It is now, in the Suite Bar at the top, i.e. where we used to have My Site, we now have OneDrive.

SharePoint MySites

In SharePoint, this can hold up to 30,000,000 documents. It’s important I start with that because I often get questions or comments on how little the limit of 20,000 documents/files is for OneDrive for Business. 20,000 is the number of documents from “My Site” or OneDrive for Business document library you are able to synchronize offline. I don’t see any good reason to synchronize more than that on your computer from the 30 million documents/files you can have. This doesn’t stop you either from creating regular Document Libraries and using OneDrive for Business to synchronize offline, though they will have a 5,000 documents sync limit.

Synchronization limits and document limits are both different.

OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online

To make it clear again, I do not believe SharePoint technology is going away, not even for a second. But the competition out there for Microsoft is fierce. A great strategy for them(Microsoft) is to have people using the OneDrive as the public offering at home or as a student to look for the next level of features for doing work. A great way to do that is to advertise SharePoint Online as a business version of the public offering. Today, your business or team can even subscribe to OneDrive for Business as a standalone subscription.
OneDrive for Business grow into collaboration and sharing of documents. SharePoint is this great platform that enables us to do so much based on our business needs and technically OneDrive for Business is just a sync tool.


  • Rajesh Kumar VSNK

    Rajesh Kumar VSNK works as Module Lead with Trigent Software. With 10+ years of experience in building and designing internet/intranet based systems, Rajesh has considerable (over 7 years) experience in SharePoint Technology – SP 2013, SP 2010 and MOSS 2007. He also has experience working on migration projects from MOSS 2007 to SP 2010 and MOSS 2007 to SP2013.