Why you should use SharePoint as a file server for your business
One of the primary reasons for implementing SharePoint for your business is the decentralized file hub it provides. Having employees store their work documents on their own local machines is a terrible idea. Duplicate files in various states of history spread out across a network are a sysadmin’s nightmare. Having a local file server on premise is a much better idea, but typically limits access only to people in the building or connected through horribly slow VPN connections. SharePoint lets you have an online file server that anyone in your company can access, at any time. In fact, SharePoint has some added advantages over a local file server. You can have multiple Document Libraries that are for unique purposes; you can set very granular permissions to allow only certain people to edit files while others can only read them; and you can set custom metadata on individual files. Flag files that belong to certain departments. Process them for approval through workflows. So many possibilities!
Using SharePoint Document Libraries as a central file server has certain inherent limitations, however. Specifically, there are limitations on file sizes, total items, and filename length. In addition to this, SharePoint Online provides a base amount of storage dependent on the amount of users in the tenant, and additional storage must be purchased. Here are the basic limitations to take into consideration.
- Maximum 5,000 items (documents and folders) per library. The work-around for this is to have multiple Document Libraries.
- The maximum size is 2 GB for individual files. This limitation may not work for large videos or zip files.
- SharePoint Online gives you 10 GB base storage plus an additional 0.5 GB per Office 365 user.
- If you need more storage, you’ll need to pay Microsoft (Currently at $0.20) for each additional gigabyte.
- You can only synchronize 20,000 items total to a local PC.
- Each file has a unique URL, and that URL can’t exceed 255 characters. While this sounds like a lot for a file name (that’s nearly two tweets!) remember that the path is a part of this limitation, so if the file is nested several sub-sites/document libraries/folders deep, you can run into this filename length limitation pretty quickly.
How to access them
So how do you get to these files stored in SharePoint? Files stored in SharePoint can be accessed in one of three ways:
- Office files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) can be accessed from within the respective apps in the “Open file” dialogue box.
- Files can be synchronized locally to a PC, and any changes made locally are pushed right back up to SharePoint.
- Files can be accessed in any web browser that is logged into SharePoint with valid Office 365 credentials.
In my next post
, I’ll cover these three methods, as well as where each of these methods has its advantages and disadvantages. If you need help setting up SharePoint for your business let us know!