Overview of SharePoint Online


SharePoint Online is one of the underpinning technologies of Office 365 and allows individuals and groups to easily create a wide variety of ways to share information as well as tracking and collaborating on projects. SharePoint Online offers many out of the box features to help individuals share, organize and discover information which is relevant to a department, team or project.

Some of the most commonly used SharePoint collaboration features are summarized below.

Feature Purposes Examples Level of Effort
OneDrive for Business Storing content for personal use, or sharing with the occasional small group. Management of content and permissions is mostly limited to the owner of the OneDrive library. Working on documents with a small team for a limited project. Access to content is narrow and typically controlled by the OneDrive owner No training required
Teams Sharing content, tasks, calendars and contacts with a defined team where the members are more defined and the project will continue for a longer period of time.  Some of the more advanced features of SharePoint Online, such as content types or workflow are available. There are several owners of the site who can grant and deny permissions to content as the team changes. A project team which goes across a number of departments in the university.  Ownership of the site is centralized among several members of the team. The project is longer term and the membership and ownership of the site could change over time. Advanced features of SharePoint, such as workflows are available. No training required to get started.

Some effort required to understand advanced SharePoint features, such as lists / libraries, sharing / permissions, views.
Department Intranet Sites Sites for internal access to department files in document libraries, tasks in lists, shared calendars for resource scheduling. The Department sites primary purpose is to facilitate work and collaboration efforts. The sites are not public facing, although they could be shared with other external users who have Microsoft accounts. An internal (not public) intranet site for a University department or unit, which is primarily used to share content among members of the department, or possibly content which needs to be accessed by other departments. Department sites can make use of more advanced features of SharePoint Online, such as workflows, retention, content types and metadata. Level of effort depends on purpose of site and what the department wants to accomplish. Existing department sites typically store documents, resource lists, announcements and calendars.



Frequently Asked Questions


Are files saved in a SharePoint Online site secure?

A question we frequently receive is whether files store in SharePoint Online sites are secure, as well as if Microsoft, as the service provider, is technically capable of reading files stored there.

A summary of data security is provided below. For in-depth information we suggest reading the links listed below under the Additional Reading section.

  • Encryption of data in transit: All communication between the customer and the service is encrypted across the Internet using Transport Layer Security (TLS) connections. All TLS connections are established using 2048-bit keys. All communication between the service provider's data centers, typically for geo-replication to facilitate disaster recovery, is transmitted using a private network and further protected with best-in-class encryption.
  • Encryption of data at rest: All data is encrypted twice. First using Microsoft BitLocker for disk-level encryption, and second per-file encryption of customer content. Additionally, every update to every file is encrypted using its own encryption key. Before they're stored, the keys to the encrypted content are stored in a physically separate location from the content. Every step of this encryption uses Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) with 256-bit keys and is Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 compliant. Furthermore, file-level encryption relays on three separate components - blob store, content database, and the key store - that are physically separate. All three are required to decrypt a file, information held in any one of the components is unusable by itself.
  • Access to data by service provider employees or contractors: Microsoft limits physical access to its datacenters by both outer and inner perimeters with increasing security at each level. By default Microsoft personnel, and subcontractors, do not have default access to any cloud stored customer data. Access to customer data is restricted on business need by role-based access control, multi-factor authentication, minimizing standing access to production data, and other controls. All access to customer data is strictly logged and regular audits are performed to attest that any access is appropriate.

Additional Reading


What is check out?

When a file is checked out to a person, only that person can make changes to it. Check out informs other individuals that a document is being edited by someone.


How do I see who has a document checked out?

If you hover over the type icon (e.g. Word, Excel, PowerPoint) with your mouse, you can see who is editing a document. You can contact the person and ask them to check it back in if you need to make changes to the document.


How do I check out a document?

To check out a document, select it, click the ellipse (...) button on the menu, and click Check out.


How do I check in a document after I have checked it out?

The individual who checked out a document can select the document, click the ellipse (...) button on the menu, and then click Check in.

To learn more about this feature read Microsoft's Top questions about check out, check in, and versions support article.


Do I need to install any special software?

No. SharePoint Online is web-based, so it works with many browsers, devices, and platforms.


Will it work on a module devices?

Yes. SharePoint Online is designed to work on mobile devices via a web browser. You'll need to be connected to the Internet to access your resources.


Can I undelete a file that was accidentally deleted from a SharePoint site?

When you delete items from a SharePoint site, they're sent to the site's Recycle Bin (also called the first-stage Recycle Bin), where you can restore them if you need to. When you delete items from a site's Recycle Bin, they're sent to the site collection Recycle Bin (also called the second-stage Recycle Bin).

A SharePoint site collection administrator can view and restore deleted items from the site collection Recycle Bin to their original locations. If an item is deleted from the site collection Recycle Bin, or it exceeds the retention time, it is permanently deleted.

Read the How to undelete files within SharePoint Online article for details on how to restore files from the recycle bin.


How long are deleted items kept in the Recycle Bin?

In SharePoint Online, items are retained for 93 days from the time you deleted them from their original location. They stay in the site Recycle Bin the entire time, unless someone deletes them from there or empties that Recycle Bin. In that case, the items go to the site collection Recycle Bin, where they stay the remainder of the 93 days unless:

  • The site collection Recycle Bin exceeds its quota and starts purging the oldest items.
  • The items are manually deleted by the site collection administrator from the site collection Recycle Bin

The site Recycle Bin storage counts against your site collection storage quota. The amount of space allocated to the site collection Recycle Bin is 200% of the site collection quota. These values are not configurable.

SharePoint Online retains backups of all content for 14 additional days beyond actual deletion. If content can not be restored via the Recycle Bin, IT Services can contact Microsoft Support to request a restore any time inside the 14 day window.

Note: Restoration from backups can only be completed for site collections or sub-sites, not specific files, lists, or libraries. Accordingly, IT Services will only accept requests for restoration from backups from the site's owner, and only in cases of mission critical data loss. If you need to recover a specific item, find it in the Recycle Bin, right-click it, and choose Restore.


Other related information


Need additional help or have issues

For support, requests may be submitted anytime by Requesting Support for the Office 365 @ UA service. Support Requests are worked by Priority based on the Impact and Urgency of need as well as the order they are received by the IT Employees with the knowledge and permissions to assist with the request.

For immediate assistance please review the Contact IT page for ways to contact the appropriate support group.

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Article ID: 107
Thu 4/23/20 8:53 PM
Tue 9/27/22 7:29 AM

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