Secure Online File Sharing with SharePoint

Many businesses have been moving to secure online file sharing over the last few years.  There are a TON of products in the space, and each has its own way of doing things.  Most businesses boil the decision down to factors of ease of use, security, and accessibility.  Typically, products will check 2 of the 3 boxes, but leave you wanting.  Recent changes to Microsoft SharePoint may finally give us everything we wanted in a cloud file sharing platform.  One that can truly replace an on-premise file server.

Ease of Use

Let’s be honest.  People don’t like change.  Microsoft has conditioned us over many years to look for our files in File Explorer.

This is how we’re used to storing and navigating our files because its how windows has been handling files for over 20 years.  The majority of users we’ve been working with want a similar experience.  Dropbox, and Box, and SugarSync, and Efolder, and a million other file sharing tools are similar but different.

They also manage permissions differently.  The file structure is flat.  People seem to be able to get used to it, but they seem to do so begrudgingly.  Microsoft has released a new feature called “Files On-Demand” for SharePoint that gives us a view we’re familiar with and makes it easy.

They give you a little green check icon to indicate that a file is synced to your local machine, and a blue cloud icon to show that a file is not stored locally, but accessible in the cloud.  With one right click you can choose to keep the file on your device or free up space with a cloud only copy.

Finally, we get an easy to use cloud file sharing platform that is intuitive to use and hearkens back to something we all already know File Explorer.  Most businesses that we’ve worked with seem to think that this is the best user experience out there since we’re not really learning anything new.  Easy is important.

Security

Keeping those files secure has been a main point of concern as well.  An on-premise file share allows you to keep granular permissions on files, and grant those permissions based on a domain login.  It also allows you to know where your data is.

Some business owners have expressed concern that if they put their data in the cloud they lose control of it.  They don’t know where it is, or how it’s being protected.  This is largely an unfounded concern.  The reality of the situation is that cloud-based products from reputable companies like Microsoft put your data into secure datacenters that have much more advanced security than your office.

SharePoint encrypts the data in transit and at rest, and uses best practices for physical protection, network protection, application security, and content protection.  Bottom line is that your data is likely much safer in the cloud than it is on your local network.

The other security concern as mentioned is file permissions.  We essentially want users to be able to see the files they are supposed to have access to and nothing else.  Online file sharing apps do this in various ways, but all of them have been more cumbersome than Microsoft Active Directory.  SharePoint has the best permissions of anything on the market.  If you want to keep your files secure and compliant this is one of the best sharing platforms to do it with.

Accessibility

The whole point of all these solutions is to make your files accessible from anywhere anytime.  Many of them succeed on this front.  SharePoint also delivers here.  With the “Files On-Demand” feature of SharePoint you can browse files like you were in the office anywhere in the world if you have internet.

If you’ve synced your files to your local machine you can easily work on those even if you don’t have internet.  This becomes important for users that travel a lot and enables them to work on airplanes or anywhere in the world they may happen to be.

Summary

There is finally a product out there that can meet all your needs for online file sharing.  SharePoint gives you the ease of use, accessibility, and security that you’ve been looking for.  Its time to look at how this great tool could modernize your workflows and allow additional access to files anywhere even on the go.  i.t.NOW can help look at your specific needs to see if Sharepoint would be a good fit for a file server replacement for your office.  Give us a call today!