No You Should Not Be Migrating to OneDrive for Business

No You Should Not Be Migrating to OneDrive for Business

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That got your attention, didn't it?

Don't misunderstand me though, I'm not saying you shouldn't use OneDrive for Business. In fact, I recommend that you do considering all the Sync updates coming soon and the immense effort put into the product by the Office 365 team.

The problem I have is when I hear people preparing to migrate to OneDrive for Business, it just doesn't make sense to me.

What is OneDrive for Business

The likelihood of people fully understanding what OneDrive for Business is at the moment, in our industry, isn't where I'd like it to be. Frankly, it's not even close. It's not just the Sync tool, it's not the new Groove and it's not the new My Site.

OneDrive for Business is a new "brand", powered by SharePoint, that helps you work with your files, at work.

Here's what this product or brand includes:

  • Personal Site
  • Personal Document Library
  • A Sync Tool for every Document Library so you can work Offline
  • Perspective on your working files (Shared with You, Followed by You, etc...)
  • Perspective on your Group Files

If I had to give someone a short summary, I'd tell them that OneDrive for Business is a way for them to see and work on all the files they have or are working on in the organization.

It's really a different approach, instead of navigating everywhere you go to your "OneDrive" (get it?) and see all that you are working with regardless of where they are.

See where I am going with this? How do you "Migrate" to something that shows you a perspective of the files you are working on as an individual within an organization. But there's more.

Why it Doesn't Make Sense to be Migrating to OneDrive for Business

We've established that OneDrive for Business is a brand, a way for you to work on the files you need to wherever they are, on any device.

Files that belong to the organization or that typically would be in a File Share, under the infamous P: Drive or whichever letter your organization had assigned to them, can't be migrated to "OneDrive for Business".

These files need to be properly inventoried and a planned migration needs to be done to put them in a well-designed architecture of Team Sites or Office 365 Groups. In other words, you migrate these files in a place where the owning entity isn't an individual user.

When I hear "We're migrating our Files Shares to OneDrive for Business" it sounds to me that you are taking, say the "Budget" folder and are planning to move it to "Jonathan's personal library" in OneDrive for Business.

A way that has helped me explain ODFB in the past, is to make you look at it as My Documents folder you have in your computer. Except it does more because technology has moved beyond a simple folder now.

TIP: When you're planning to do any sort of migration for OneDrive for Business, ask yourself, does it still make sense if you replace the word OneDrive for Business with "X" person's My Documents? If the answer is no, then stop.

The Only Time you Should Consider Migrating to OneDrive for Business

At the moment, unless this brand grows a new arm and with it many more features I have not yet seen, there is only one migration scenario that makes sense to me.

Migrating your users' personal files from their roaming profiles, home folders or from their computers to their personal document library part of ODFB.

But to be honest, I don't even see why you should be doing this. Often the simplest way is the best and when we're talking about personal work files I'd keep it simple. What's worked for me is simple communications that recommend or suggests to users in our organization to Drag and Drop their files to their ODFB.

Otherwise, the migration will have you push a new application on people's desktop or try and bring the files in their roaming profiles to the right ODFB Site.

Usually, we don't need to keep the created and modified date for these sort of files and since they are personal or only edited by the same owner, the value for the author isn't as important.

Tell them that they have OneDrive for Business, tell them the advantages of using it and show them how to copy their My Documents, My Videos and other desktop files there, and they will. If they see the value, they will use it.

From my experience, there is no better way to gain adoption than to show them the why and how rather than shoving it down their throats.

The Unlimited Storage in OneDrive for Business is a Problem

This is the other problem, not everyone is a OneDrive for Business newbie. Some have already figured out what it is and how it should work. However, when they look at the pricing of storage they thought of an interesting way to cut costs in the short term.

If you store your files for teams or groups in the organization the way you should, in Team Sites or in any SharePoint Site that does not belong to an individual user, your storage is very different. Let me explain.

Storage of data anywhere other than personal OneDrive for Business Sites:

You get 10GB + 500MB per user in your Office 365

Each User gets a personal OneDrive for Business site with different storage:

UNLIMITED (currently still at 1TB)

And unfortunately, this price difference pushes people to create a "Fake User" named "Budget" or "Finance" to which the files will be stored as if it were a Team Site.

But it's not, it's still an individual users Files and many of the features they'll want in the long run may or will not be available.

I know it seems tempting and you may save a few dollars, technically you could've done this with File Shares as well. Buy a computer and share the My Documents folder because you didn't want to buy a new server with the proper hardware. But you always pay for it after, there are no shortcuts.

Focus your Efforts on Managing OneDrive for Business Rather than Migrating to It

I feel much calmer now that I've written this article. Working at Sharegate I see and hear about a lot of different migrations and in the last couple of months have received a growing request to "Migrate to OneDrive for Business".

Don’t worry about the migration to this service. Properly plan and architect your migration to SharePoint Online in Office 365. But when it comes to ODFB, I'd tell you to focus on managing, auditing and being prepared for what users are going to do in there.

External Users, people working offline from mobile devices that get lost or stolen and other risks are far more important than bringing your users' persona files to the cloud.

Of course there are always exceptions and I am fine with it as long as you understand what this Office 365 service is, what it does and what it's meant for.

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Benjamin Niaulin
Benjamin Niaulin @bniaulin

Well known as the SharePoint Geek, Benjamin has been helping people all around the globe reach their goals by simplifying SharePoint solutions. You haven't met Benjamin yet? Look for him at SharePoint conferences and events!