In my previous blog post, I introduced the concept of storing your organization’s shared documents in a decentralized, cloud storage solution; namely Microsoft’s SharePoint Online. The advantages are numerous, but there are some things to be aware of when accessing these files. In this post, I’ll cover the three main ways you and your users can directly access, open, edit and save documents stored in SharePoint.
From here you can navigate to your file, open it, and edit it. Any changes you make will automatically be uploaded back to SharePoint, so you don’t have to worry about downloading, editing and re-uploading documents. In fact, SharePoint even has some collaboration features built in where multiple users can edit the same document at the same time using this method, and you’ll see what the others are doing in real-time. Amazing!
There are two disadvantages to this method, though. The first is that you have to know what kind of file you’ll be working on before you open it, because you’ll need to use that specific app. For example, you may need to work on a client file that contains some BI statistics. You know it’s stored in SharePoint, but you don’t remember if it’s an Excel spreadsheet or just a table in a Word document. If you launch Word, and go looking for it on SharePoint, even though you know where the file is stored, you won’t even see it in the dialogue box if it’s an excel file. The other disadvantage is that this method only works with native Office files. If you’re trying to access PDF files or images, etc. you’re out of luck. To get to those files, you’ll need to use one of the other two options.
Which leads us to the disadvantages of accessing your files in a web browser. The first, as I’ve already mentioned, is that you can only edit Office documents in the browser. If you have custom file types (CAD files, Adobe Creative Suite files, etc.), you’ll have to download them, edit them, and re-upload them. On top of that, file management is challenging, as copying and moving files around in a Web Browser is not straight forward. Some of these issues can be mitigated through the “Open in File Explorer” feature, but this only creates a temporary connection and is only available in Internet Explorer. And then finally, it seems obvious, but it should be stated; files are only accessible in the Web Browser when you have an active internet connection. For most people, this isn’t an issue, but for service techs and sales reps who spend a lot of time on the road, this could definitely be a deterrent. For resolving these issues, Microsoft gives us a third option.
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