Understanding Files in Microsoft Teams

Files in Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive

An important role for Teams is file management so let’s make sure you understand files in Microsoft Teams. Teams is not just for chatting, or remote meetings. Teams lets you share files, and work together on stuff. In this blog, we’re going to break down how Teams handles files. We’ll keep it simple and  compare Teams to other Microsoft file management apps like, SharePoint and OneDrive. You decide what filing system works best for you, and where that system should be. 

File storage

Microsoft Teams does an amazing job of storing your files for you. Keep all your important documents, presentations, and other work-related stuff neatly organized in one place. It’s like having a digital filing cabinet within Teams. This feature simplifies access for you and your team, making it easy to find and collaborate on files whenever you need them. Let’s explore how this file storage feature in Teams can enhance your workflow and keep your work well-organized.

Saving files in Teams is very convenient because of these two main factors:

  • These files can be accessed from anywhere
  • These files can be accessed by anyone on that Team
You want to understand where these files in Teams are coming from and how they are really stored. You may be wondering if the Microsoft Teams app is actually storing your files. Teams does not physically store your files but instead gives you a connection or short-cut to where they are stored.

Take a look at the chart below to see how files are stored in different Microsoft 365 apps like Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive, and other cloud tools. This comparison will help you understand the unique ways each app handles file storage. By checking out the chart, you’ll get a clear picture of which option suits your needs best when it comes to managing files in your teamwork.

Comparing File storage in Teams to OneDrive and SharePoint
Comparing file store on Teams to OneDrive and SharePoint

Where Do the Files in Microsoft Teams Go?

As the Chart above shows, Teams looks like it saves files for you but in actuality the files are being stored somewhere else.

Teams is your Short-cut to Files Imagine Teams as your go-to map for files, just like the shortcuts you use on your computer. Think about the shortcuts you love on your computer – those quick routes to your favorite files. Well, Teams does the same for you and your team. It’s all about making things speedy and straightforward, helping you reach your files in a flash.

In Microsoft Teams, we’ve got three main areas for files: Teams Channels, Teams Chats, and the special Files section. Each area has its own job in helping us work together.

Let’s check out what each of these areas does and how they make things easier for us when we’re dealing with files in Teams.

Teams Channel

Teams Channels serve as a great space for team members to gather and work on specific projects or topics. Within these Channels, files are shared, edited, and stored collectively, providing a centralized hub for collaborative efforts.

When you are in a Teams Channel, the files are saved in a SharePoint Site. These files are shared with everyone in that Teams Channel. Navigating through Teams Channels allows you to access project-specific or topic-specific files quickly.

Teams Chat

Teams Chats act like your personal meeting rooms. Here, sharing files is simple, promoting effortless collaboration and enhancing the way your group communicates.

When you are in a Chat, Files are saved in OneDrive (belonging to the person that uploaded the file).  These files are shared with everyone in that Teams Chat.

Teams Files button

When you are in the Files area (button on left side of Teams), you will see a lot of different sources for files.  What you see here is based on what you have worked on recently and what you have connected to your Teams app.

Cloud file storage systems/apps such as Dropbox or iCloud or Google Drive are not being shared with anyone on any Team.  They are for you only.

We have focused on 3 main places in Microsoft Teams that you can look to for your files but please note that you can create more locations for files if you wish. 

Planning is important

Working in Teams and saving information, does require a plan.

You want to know that what you save will be easily accessible by those that need the information.

But you also need to be thinking of the permissions that are granted in that environment (Teams vs SharePoint vs OneDrive). Each application comes with its own system of permissions.  

Create a shared filing system that makes sense for everyone involved.  Take the time to make it work right.

Need to learn more about how to implement Teams, read our blog on this topic here.

Video tutorial comparing Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and OneDrive

Check out the video below where I explain the difference between Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and OneDrive. This will help you understand files better, in each of these locations.

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