While talking to customers they often ask a simple question: What are the key benefits of the SharePoint platform over classic file shares?

Microsoft always tries to provide customers with a lot of marketing like: Easily manage documents and help ensure integrity of content, Get users up to speed quickly, Deploy solutions tailored to your business processes. Most end users are not really interested in integrity of content or tailored solutions. They are interested in day-to-day benefits, one being the ability to work with documents.

Here is my SharePoint vs. File share overview:

Feature area

SharePoint

File Share

Usability / Working
with documents

Interface might seem complicated; you can do one thing from a number of views:
using web browser, explorer view or via a network place.

Network places are hard to manage and get use to.

Explorer view misses
a folder structure navigation and it does not work on all computers/browsers.

While you are using the above two, you cannot profile your documents.

It is fairly simple. It has been here for a long time.

Search

Very good, it is not Google, but works just fine.

There is no out of box search available for a network file share.

Document properties

Completely extensible.

Only basic properties available.

Folder structures

Built in folder navigation is complicated and hard to manage.

Great folder navigation.

Permissions

Completely flexible but interface for setting permissions is hard to use.
There is no permission report for sites and document libraries.

Flexible. Permission report is missing.

Templates

Completely flexible. A great feature! Content types also allow you to manage policies (expirations for each content type separately).

There is no support for templates

Managing large
amount of files

If not planned correctly you might end up with all your files stored in a
single database. That might be a problem.

Although you can easily move files and free some space, it might be difficult to
manage a great number of files.

Creating views

This is great for a single document library; however it is not so great when
you want to pull all files from a site or site collection.

There are no views on file shares.

Collaboration / Approving
/ Versioning

This is very good when you have a team of people working on documents.

Not supported

From the overview you will see that there are real benefits of using SharePoint. However this really depends on the end user. If usability and ease of use are the most important thing to you, stick with file shares.

SharePoint is great, but it requires a user with at least intermediate knowledge, a user that is willing to learn new stuff and to use the whole potential of the SharePoint platform.

3 Comments

  1. Mark Miller Says

    Toni – Once again, a nice piece of work. I hope you don’t mind that I’ll be using this as a discussion point in my SharePoint workshops.

    Regards,
    Mark
    EndUserSharePoint.com

  2. Toni Says

    @Mark: I would be delighted 🙂

  3. http:// Says

    Hi Toni-
    I am interested in talking about a crm 4.0 opportunity we have. Please contact me at robert@computertrainingmag.com

    Thanks. Look forward to hearing from you.

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