best way to impliment a company shared folder in office 365 business premium

I have a customer who is moving from SBS 2003 to Office 365 business premium.

Only 4 users.

I will not be migrating - I will setting up from afresh using Office 365.

There will be no on-site server so I need to create a shared folder to place all the company files in.

In SBS2003 we called this the "Company Shared Folder" and it contained all the files that everyone in the office needed access to all the time - users had a mapped a drive letter to it.

I have Office 365 on a trial at the moment and I do not see an easy way to replicate this.

When I share folders between users they do not appear in the One Drive Pro on the client PCs.

You can see them if you log on to the MS webs apps and go to One Drive but I need to have physical folder on each computer that is updated when other users add or change files on the physical folders on their PC's.

This is so very, very basic for Small Businesses.

I cannot find any simple instructions on how to achieve this.

I know about team sites but the space is limited to 12 GB in this case (10GB + (4*500MB))

So how to get a shared folder to show up in all 4 users One Drive Pro folder on the physical PC's ?

All help appreciated


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TechBentoConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Hey Paul,
This may not be the answer you want to hear: don't, at least not yet.  Although, on paper, it is possible you will find the process riddled with complexity and issues.  It all starts with the name which covers at least 3 products:

OneDrive software client
OneDrive for personal use
OneDrive SharePoint Site.

The latter is what you want, but that means implementing SharePoint.   Even then that sounds like a good idea, once you start using it you will probably change your mind.  I am guessing your users are looking for simple and easy to use things, and not really big on adopting new file/doc management capabilities.  The OneDrive SharePoint component is a product riddled with complications and issues that you, and your users, will find detrimental.

I've been down that path, and unless you have people willing to adopt SharePoint (which is not the same thing as having them access a shared folder) your better choice is within other solutions.  The closest one I found was Egnyte Enterprise, for a hefty fee ($30/u/month).    

Just so you know, I attempted the same setup, and did extensive testing,
OneDrive (failed on multiple levels)
Google Drive (awesome but falls apart on some sharing capabilities, too easy to duplicate entire data sets).
Amazon Zocalo

 Egnyte was the best option, but cost prohibitive.
There are products I think could work like SugarSync and SpiderOak but I gave up in favor of waiting for Amazon to complete the Zocalo product.

Despite the issues, I am presently using Google Drive + QNAP devices to synch a single office and awaiting, impatiently Amazon Zocalo to release features that will allow me to move.

Our needs went beyond a single office location sync.  We wanted fast access globally, on crappy internet connections. We tested functionality from awesome computers on fiber to hotels in South Africa, India, and Sri Lanka.   OneDrive failed nearly all tests even though it promised to be the best solution.
dongocdungConnect With a Mentor Commented:
In this case, I believe you can create a document library in SharePoint online. You can map this document library to all users ' computers. However, you need to have more storage for SharePoint online as you mentioned you have 12 GB.
zoltan9992000Author Commented:
Techbento and Dongocdung - thank you for your prompt responses.

Techbento -

So you are saying that MS has discontinued Small Business Server and pointed everyone to use Office 365 but this will not provide reliable/useable file sharing ?

For my small business customers file sharing and email are the most important IT requirement - by a clear mile.

MS drives me as mad as it does to all IT support personnel but I can not believe that it has no useable solution for on-site file sharing.

over the past week I have trialed Office 365 Business Premium.

This comes with One Drive for Business (1TB per user)

As far as I can tell the One Drive for business runs on Sharepoint  -it has this in the address bar in the web apps console.

I can create a local linked copy to the users PC - the label created in Explorer is automatically named Sharepoint.

You can then share the folder and map a drive letter to it.

It appears to work for the small amount of testing I have carried out on it.

Can anyone who is actually using Office 365 business subscriptions respond with how they are implementing file sharing - especially for a Company folder that most users will be in and out of on a daily basis.

Do I need a file server / NAS device on-site ?


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That's correct, you can do that, but it's not going to serve you long term.

OneDrive for Business breaks down into

OneDrive for Business -- personal
OneDrive for Business -- company shared folders.

The personal one, the one you tried, is the user friendly version of the two.  You will find it varies from OneDrive (not for Business) greatly as it is based on SharePoint.  It's closest parallel, I think, is Windows 2012R2 Work Folders which are a one-to-one synch.  Basically, a user synchs their stuff.  That works well.

Now, the next thing you want to do is Share and Sync a main Company folder. This is where the technology and your needs start parting ways. You can rig it to sort of work, but it's designed nor intended for that purpose.  This is a convoluted explanation, but it boils down to each person having to synch a whole lot of the same stuff.

So then you try to rig it further, and setup an account on a server, or put in a QNAP, or something as not to have 10 people synching the same data set. This, again, sort of works, but it's going outside of the design of the product...  

Despite all those efforts, you'll find permissions are not flexible at all, and the whole sharing/synching thing is not working because you won't be able to reliably add folders and stuff and guarantee everyone can see them.

That's when you start looking at OneDrive for Business -- Share Point version; Aka Team Sites.  You can then setup a library but what you'll find is that it's very dependent on the web interface. Well, if your users are alright with it, then that's fine.  So you start using that, and my biggest pain point was the inability to drop folders into it; it only lets you do single files.  

I walked away right about that point, albeit we vetted it in a lot more detail.  Found other issues, like Office Online performance craps out the moment you have international users.  Point is, it became way to cumbersome and way to unreliable to implement -- what one might think -- was a simple shared folder.
To add to my last comment, I private messaged you earlier with a blog entry I wrote out detailing my experience: trying to move Google Drive to OneDrive for Business.   In hindsight, I don't see much harm in posting it here, so here is the link:
zoltan9992000Author Commented:
After much research and actual testing I have to concur with TechBento -

File sharing on One Drive for Business is not useable as a replacement for a shared folder on a local server e.g. to hold all the commonly used company files.

It doesn't upload very well, takes days to sync, doesn't sync them all, often loses sync requiring a full re-download (repair), ONLY SUPPORTS 5000 files on the Team Site or 20,000 using the personal storage and has more issues to consider - see web for reviews.

I have had to implement local storage - the file server lives on !!

MS does it again - I didn't actually believe it could be that bad until I tested it myself.

If anyone has a positive experience of this please add a comment to let us know.
Zoltan9992000, I wish it was different. We're a Microsoft Silver Partner because of Office 365; I completely understand your doubt.  I am hoping it will change, but our experience has been the same. There is no effective solution, yet, for small companies.  Stay tuned on Amazon Zocalo, I think you'll be pleased if they continue on the path they are on. It's not there yet, but I suspect the features you want will show up soon.
Thought you might appreciate this little note:  we're testing DatAnywhere this week.
It's free for 5 users, and I believe it's $50 a seat after that... I can't find concrete pricing right now but CDW had 750 seats for $36,000.... so I am extrapolating.    My current use of it has shown that it's not quite what I expected, but might be a suitable middle-ground.
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