OneDrive for Business sync: why user experience needs consistency

August 30, 2017

In May of this year, another update was released to OneDrive for Business that changed the way users share files and folders with the popular sync and share tool. While any improvement to OneDrive for Business is undoubtedly a positive step problems with OneDrive for Business sync persist.

And, as welcome as improvements are, Microsoft’s update introduces another change to the OneDrive for Business user experience that Office 365 users must now become familiar with. Once again, organisations need to communicate these changes to their end users if they want employees to use Office 365 to its fullest.

This post will give a brief overview of the new changes to OneDrive for Business, explaining some of the long-standing issues with its user experience.

 

Office 365 and OneDrive for Business sync

Many organisations use Microsoft’s Office 365 suite of productivity tools – in fact, this year Microsoft announced that they have over 100 million active users. As more and more organisations embrace digital transformation and move to the cloud, Office 365 has become the obvious option for most because of its scope and power. It also helps that many of their employees are already familiar with using Microsoft products from on-premises versions of the Office Suite.

With Office 365, employees have all the tools they need to collaborate and communicate in a flexible, digital working environment. OneDrive for Business is an integral part of this, due to its syncing and storing capabilities that enable users to share and work on documents collaboratively.

However, there have been many problems with OneDrive for Business in the past, most notably its inconsistent user experience. For instance, users are recommended to use SharePoint Team Sites to store and share work that needs to be viewed by colleagues, while OneDrive for Business is left for work or other documents they wish to keep private. This disparity creates an inconsistent user experience as users have to constantly switch between the two to find the files they need.

Microsoft has gone a long way to resolving these issues, attempting to bridge the gaps between its different sync and storage engines. Yet some issues remain. The new updates seem to be a step in the right direction – let’s have a look at them now.

 

What’s new?

Introduced back in May 2017, the new update for OneDrive for Business makes it much easier to share files with your colleagues, clients and friends. You can do so in one or two clicks directly from File Explorer.

In File Explorer, users can right-click on a file and select share, before typing in the recipient’s name and clicking send. Microsoft has committed to bringing OneDrive’s sharing capabilities directly into the same interface in which millions of Office 365 users search for files each day.

Microsoft has also improved the experience of creating links for your files. If you want to copy a link to the clipboard, you can right click on the link and select the ‘Copy Link’ button. This makes it much easier to produce a link to a document, as users no longer have to follow the link to copy the URL from the source.

More customisable sharing options have been added, too. Before you click share, you can configure ‘Link Settings’ to customise who can see the link, with three main options. Users can choose to:

  • Give access to anyone

With this option, anyone can open your file without having to set up accounts or demand permission.

  • Share a secure link

This option means that your link can only be opened by people in your organisation.

  • Share with specific people

This option allows you to type in a specific user to share the document.

You can also decide who can edit the document and set an expiration date for the link. These new updates apply to files and folders in both OneDrive and SharePoint.

 

OneDrive for Business sync: the easy way

These changes are an improvement, another addition to the long list of updates that arguably should have been in place when OneDrive for Business was first released. Whether it’s because of sync issues, conflicted documents or confusion between the consumer file storage app and sync app, Microsoft continues to roll out a string of updates for the various OneDrive and OneDrive for Business apps (both in Office 365 and for Windows 10 desktop apps).

However, one of the core problems with OneDrive For Business sync remains, which is the fact that it doesn’t have its own user interface. This means that many users might still choose to primarily synchronise files through SharePoint, while others will use File Explorer and its new capabilities. To ensure a consistent user experience for all your employees, another option may be required—one that provides a single user interface for all these actions.

There is an alternative. Digilink offers a dedicated app, called Easier365, for file synchronisation and sharing documents in Office 365. Easier365 makes file sync easy by providing users with a consistent user experience that works across OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online.

 

Find out more about Easier365 here or try Easier365 today with a free 30-day trial to provide your employees with a consistent user experience.


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