SharePoint vs File Server

In the post, we will look at the difference between SharePoint vs File Server.

In the realm of document management and collaboration, organisations often find themselves at a crossroads, weighing the merits of traditional file servers against the dynamic capabilities of modern solutions like SharePoint. The choice between SharePoint and a file server is not merely a matter of selecting a storage system but rather a strategic decision that impacts how teams collaborate, access information, and manage their digital assets.

Functionality and Purpose

SharePoint: SharePoint is a web-based platform developed by Microsoft primarily for document management and collaboration. It offers a wide range of features beyond simple file storage, including version control, co-authoring, workflows, integration with other Microsoft 365 applications, and customizable team sites for project management and communication.

File Server: A file server, on the other hand, is a traditional on-premises server that stores files and folders in a hierarchical structure. It provides basic file storage and sharing capabilities within a local network, typically using protocols like SMB (Server Message Block) or NFS (Network File System).

SharePoint compared with file server infrastructure

Access and Collaboration

SharePoint: SharePoint enables users to access files and collaborate from anywhere with an internet connection. It supports simultaneous editing by multiple users, real-time collaboration, and access control through permissions and user roles.

File Server: A file server primarily serves users within the local network. While remote access is possible through VPN (Virtual Private Network) or other remote access solutions, it may not offer the same level of seamless collaboration and access control as SharePoint.

Scalability and Flexibility

SharePoint: SharePoint is highly scalable and can accommodate organizations of various sizes. It can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud (Microsoft 365), or in a hybrid environment, providing flexibility in deployment options.

File Server: File servers are limited by hardware resources and may require frequent upgrades to accommodate growing storage needs. Scaling a traditional file server beyond a certain point can become complex and costly.

Search and Discovery

SharePoint: SharePoint includes powerful search capabilities, allowing users to easily find documents, sites, and other content using metadata, keywords, and filters. It also supports content discovery through features like Delve and Content Search. Integrations can be found here.

File Server: File servers typically rely on folder structures for organizing files, which may become unwieldy and inefficient as the volume of data increases. Searching for specific files or documents can be challenging without robust search functionalities.

Integration and Extensibility

SharePoint: SharePoint integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft 365 applications such as Teams, Outlook, and Office apps, enhancing productivity and collaboration. It also offers extensive customization options through SharePoint Framework (SPFx) for building custom solutions and integrations.

File Server: While file servers can integrate with certain applications and services, they may not offer the same level of integration and extensibility as SharePoint, particularly with cloud-based solutions and modern collaboration tools.

SharePoint compared to traditional file servers

In summary, SharePoint offers a modern, feature-rich platform for document management, collaboration, and content sharing, whereas a traditional file server provides basic file storage and sharing capabilities within a local network. The choice between SharePoint and a file server depends on factors such as organisational needs, scalability requirements, collaboration preferences, and integration with existing IT infrastructure.

See our services here: