Centralized Cloud based Document Sharing

Wondering what other churches are using for document sharing. We are getting spread out across 8 campuses, and looking for cloud based solution so users can access easily at home, at work, or at Starbucks (joking but serious). I have looked at Box.com because it has centralized Admin console. We are currently Google Non_Profit and haven’t seen a way to control as administered storage, only as individual. We have a lot of users with individual Drop Box accounts, but nothing centralized.

Needs are central administration, granular control, hopefully inexpensive, roll back to previous versions, would like quota limits for users. I have thought about Share Point, but have heard a lot of negative things about it also. Any suggestions?


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We’re big fans of the office 365 solution with one drive and sharepoint to solve this challenge. However, I would suggest to make that really effective you’d want email over there too which may be a bigger shift than makes sense for you.

Google did recently release their ‘team drive’ option which creates what you’re looking for inside of google apps. May still be in early release.

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We are also users of the Office 365 suite. Currently most sharing is done with OneDrive, but we are gradually deploying SharePoint teams sites to all ministry areas.

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O365 has some limitations regarding a shared data folder structure, unless you’re willing to manage it in their SharePoint. So we use a different solution called Owncloud, which has the advantage of honoring your AD credentials and rights (enterprise version only), and keeping your data stored on a Windows datastore. You can do that locally, or as many Christian churches and ministries do, turn to someone like us for hosting. Owncloud works as simply as Dropbox, and has clients for Windows and Mac computers, and for iOS and Android mobile devices.

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Google Drive shines where SharePoint doesn’t in my opinion. It’s far simpler to setup and manage sharing and users don’t have as much difficulty in picking it up. With Google Teams and the business sync features coming this fall I would definitely recommend looking into that.

We are a O365 shop here at church and it works but I contract for a company using Google and honestly like it a lot more.

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Thanks everyone! I didn’t even know about Google Teams. I turned it on yesterday, so will give it a try and see if that will work for what we need.

We’ve been on Office 365 for about 2 years now and really have only used Exchange and some SharePoint and some Skype. People didn’t adopt the the SharePoint like I hoped but now we’re testing our Microsoft teams which seems to be the bridge what we’ve been looking for. It’s marketed as mostly a chat-based communication tool like Slack, but I would say it’s much more. It allows you to pull in SharePoint, Planner, Calendars, Email, Skype, and several more apps into one space and you don’t need to know that you’re using SharePoint. It easily ties everything together. I’ll let you know how it goes in a few weeks (If I remember). https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0--6byMAe9otLougDShhUw/featured

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If I can tag a question on to this thread:

Folks using Sharepoint in O365, are you using the Team Sites as a way to transition teams off of a traditional on-prem “shared drive?” Are your teams using any of the additional collaboration features?

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Yes, in the short-term we are using SP to transition off of a network shared drive. Maybe I shouldn’t say short-term as there are over 180,000 files currently on the network shared drive and we are NOT going to use a simple drag-and-drop migration approach. In the meantime, we are looking for opportunities to add other collaboration features to team sites when appropriate and when needed.

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Yes and no. We actually have found it easier to setup ONE team site for the entire organization as the ‘file server replacement.’ We then create a unique document library for each department/group and assign appropriate permissions to those document libraries (normally read-only for all staff, read/write for members of that department). This allows everyone to go to ONE site to see all of the file content and avoids a bit of confusion for most folks.
For more tech-savvy groups that want to do more in sharepoint than just storing files, we have setup individual sites.

As for other collaboration features, we’ve seen some start using the ‘groups’ feature for collaboration with small internal groups but particularly when working to collaborate with folks outside of the organization.

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We had a stint with O365 and Google and ultimately landed Dropbox for Business and Dropbox Paper.

Dropbox works really well for us. Lots of people already knew how to use it. Dropbox Paper is super easy for people to use and share. They have nice apps.

People can toggle between their personal and business account.

It’s definitely not the cheapest option out there but it’s super simple, user friendly and convenient, which when you consider how many non-tech people you are serving with the product, is worth a lot.

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We have Google Non Profit and it includes Team Drives which make it great for a team of people to share files and it is unlimited storage.

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We are actually migrating away from Dropbox towards Google Drive. As we have Google NFP, the cost is nada and, imho, it provides better controls than Dropbox does.

I’ve looked at the Team Drives but am leaning against using them…mainly because there doesn’t seem to be a way to create a super view, like a file server. e.g., its great to have a team drive for finance - but I want other folks to be able to see this folder and access common files, just not be able to access sensitive files. Sure, I could share a folder within the team folder, but…

I’ve setup a single account which acts as the “file server” account, the idea being that everyone places their files there and since it isn’t actually under their account, the data can be managed centrally.

We’ll see if it works. :slight_smile:

I’ve also looked at O365 in the past. I have used OneDrive quite extensively personally but there has been a major feature missing which forced me away from it for church use - namely its lack of support for file versioning of non-Microsoft Office files. I did see recently that they are finally (its been years!) adding versioning support for these files, but I believe it is still a bit into the future…and still can’t match the price of Google Drive.


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