SharePoint Online: Everything You Should Know

Microsoft SharePoint Online and SharePoint On-Premises are industry-leading tools for collaboration, document management and storage. However, despite their popularity, these terms are often used interchangeably. Are they the same or do they represent two different things? Let’s find out in this blog.

What Is SharePoint Online?

SharePoint Online is a powerful web-based application used for collaboration and information exchange across an organization. In simple terms, it is the cloud version of SharePoint. Just like SharePoint On-Premises, SharePoint Online allows users to store, share and manage content seamlessly. SharePoint Online is available as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) with an Office 365 subscription.

SharePoint Online or Microsoft Office 365?

SharePoint Online is referred to in several different ways such as SharePoint 365, Office SharePoint, Microsoft 365 SharePoint, etc. It is also often confused with OneDrive and Office 365 as well. However, SharePoint Online and Microsoft Office 365 are not the same.

SharePoint Online is like other Microsoft cloud services, such as Exchange Online or Teams, that come bundled with Office 365. Any organization that has the proper Office 365 licensing can use SharePoint Online.

Do You Need Office 365 to Use SharePoint?

SharePoint Online is one of the products available with an Office 365 subscription. Depending on the subscription plan you opt for, SharePoint Online can be availed as a standalone product without the Office 365 package. SharePoint online is subscription-based and is licensed on a per-user basis.

SharePoint Online Versus On-Premises

Many people seem to confuse SharePoint Online with SharePoint On-Premises and vice versa. Although they are similar and share common functionalities, they are two separate products and are deployed differently. Understanding the differences between the two platforms will help you choose the right one for your business.

SharePoint On-Premises, also referred to as SharePoint Server, is locally hosted by your company. As such, your company is responsible for the servers, architecture and resources required for the maintenance and installation of updates and patches, which can greatly impact the cost of ownership.

SharePoint Online uses the cloud environment hosted by Microsoft. The online version doesn’t require the purchase or maintenance of new hardware, which has little or no impact on implementation costs.

How to Move From SharePoint On-Premises to SharePoint Online

The SharePoint Migration Tool from Microsoft is a free tool that companies can use to move from SharePoint On-Premises to SharePoint Online. The tool can seamlessly move your document libraries and files from your local drive or from SharePoint On-Premises sites to SharePoint Online or OneDrive. Before initiating your migration, it is important that you assess your system requirements, settings and permissions behavior.

SharePoint Online is designed to improve collaboration and boost productivity, and has multiple benefits such as:

Easy to Manage and Cost Effective: Since SharePoint Online is a web-based platform hosted in Microsoft’s cloud environment, there’s nothing extra to manage. Your company doesn’t need to invest on any hardware or install anything additional.

Multifunctionality: This collaborative platform has several functions and is highly flexible. It can be used as an internal website for updating company information and announcements, scheduling and organizing projects, managing documents, and sharing files. You can even customize the interface as per your needs or set up social networking platforms to encourage interactions among your employees.

Easy Accessibility: Since SharePoint Online is cloud-based, you can access files from anywhere and on any device — all you need is a web browser and an internet connection. This makes collaboration effective and boosts productivity even while you’re on the go.

Seamless Integration With Microsoft Office Suite: SharePoint Online seamlessly integrates with other Microsoft business applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. SharePoint Online is also compatible with various web browsers like Internet Explorer, Edge, Chrome, Firefox and Safari, allowing you to work on documents in your browser or edit natively on your desktop.

Advanced Security: SharePoint Online comes with advanced security features that authenticate users and prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information. Data integrity is maintained by optimizing access to data and shareability. You can also set security configurations at the document, folder, site or library level.

Automatic Updates: With SharePoint Online, your IT team doesn’t have to worry about manually installing updates and patches. Once you purchase the license, the tool is automatically updated to the latest versions and new features are added as and when they are available.

SharePoint Online Data Specs

In this age of cloud computing and ever-evolving data privacy and security regulations, companies need to know the specifics of their data storage. In most cases, companies need this information to stay compliant with their industry’s regulatory requirements.

Data Storage

Microsoft safely stores your company’s SharePoint Online folders and files on Azure SQL storage in one of its data centers to ensure data availability and recovery in the event of a disaster or an accidental deletion. Here’s a guide to know more about data storage options in SharePoint Online.

Every Office 365 tenant gets 1 TB of SharePoint Online storage plus 10 GB per licensee. For example, if your company has a 500-user subscription for Office 365, you will get a total of 6 TB of SharePoint Online storage.

Data Retention

Creating a retention policy for SharePoint Online can help unclutter storage and reduce security and liability risks. By applying a retention policy, you can retain the files stored in SharePoint. The retention policy can be set based on the creation date or the last modified date.

Data Security

Microsoft offers robust, multi-layered protection for data security in SharePoint Online. While BitLocker provides disk-level encryption of all data, per-file encryption ensures every change to a file is encrypted using a unique encryption key. Each encryption step uses Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) with 256-bit keys and is Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 compliant.

SharePoint Online Pricing

SharePoint Online is a subscription-based service and is available with two subscription plans. SharePoint Online Plan 1 includes all the features that small and midsize businesses would need and is priced at $5 per user, per month, for a one-year subscription. This plan includes services such as OneDrive and SharePoint Online and 1 TB of OneDrive storage per user.

SharePoint Online Plan 2 is designed in such a way that companies get all the benefits of Plan 1 as well as additional features, unlimited storage, DLP capabilities and the In-Place Holds feature.

SharePoint Online is an incredible tool to enhance collaboration within your organization. But before you subscribe to SharePoint Online, it’s worth comparing the two plans to find out which one is best suited for your organization. The table below shows Microsoft SharePoint Online plans and pricing.

SharePoint Online (Plan 1)SharePoint Online (Plan 2)
$5.00 user/month (annual commitment)

Services: SharePoint, OneDrive, Lists

1 TB of OneDrive storage per user

Share files securely within or outside your organization

Seamlessly sync local copies of your files or folders and work on them offline on your Mac or PC

Co-author documents using familiar Microsoft Office apps

Easily share information and updates with employees via intranets and portals

Use Microsoft Lists to share, organize and track information

Effortlessly move and manage files between OneDrive and SharePoint

Work from anywhere, anytime with SharePoint mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows, or OneDrive mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows

Includes FastTrack deployment support with purchase of more than 50 seats

24/7 phone and web support

Licensed for commercial use

SharePoint Online Plan 2 includes all the benefits of Plan 1 and more

$10.00 user/month (annual commitment)

Services: SharePoint, OneDrive, Lists

Unlimited personal cloud storage for subscriptions of five or more users, else 1TB per user

Customize your enterprise search and results with enhanced features

Access content in electronic format for litigation or audit purposes

Advanced DLP capabilities to identify, monitor and protect sensitive information

Preserve content from deletion or editing with the In-Place Holds feature, available with plan 2

SharePoint Online (Plan 1)

  • $5.00 user/month (annual commitment)
  • Office applications not included
  • Services: SharePoint, OneDrive, Lists
  • 1 TB of OneDrive storage per user
  • Share files securely within or outside your organization
  • Seamlessly sync local copies of your files or folders and work on them offline on your Mac or PC
  • Co-author documents using familiar Microsoft Office apps
  • Easily share information and updates with employees via intranets and portals
  • Use Microsoft Lists to share, organize and track information
  • Effortlessly move and manage files between OneDrive and SharePoint
  • Work from anywhere, anytime with SharePoint mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows, or OneDrive mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows
  • Includes FastTrack deployment support with purchase of more than 50 seats
  • 24/7 phone and web support
  • Licensed for commercial use

SharePoint Online (Plan 2)

  • Plan 2 includes all the benefits of Plan 1 and more
  • $10.00 user/month (annual commitment)
  • Office applications not included
  • Services: SharePoint, OneDrive, Lists
  • Unlimited personal cloud storage for subscriptions of five or more users, else 1TB per user
  • Customize your enterprise search and results with enhanced features
  • Access content in electronic format for litigation or audit purposes
  • Advanced DLP capabilities to identify, monitor and protect sensitive information
  • Preserve content from deletion or editing with the In-Place Holds feature, available with plan 2

Can You Back up SharePoint Online Data?

Yes! Spanning Backup for Office 365 ensures that your SharePoint Online data is always protected and available, ensuring your productivity is unhindered. SharePoint’s cloud-based environment and collaboration capabilities can render its contents vulnerable to ransomware attacks, accidental deletion and configuration or sync errors.

To learn how you can securely backup your SharePoint Online data, talk to us today.

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