SharePoint 2013 and Online Comparison

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In this article we place SharePoint 2013 and Online side by side for comparison. We will take a look at the most important differences between the two and weight all the pros and cons, so that you can make an informed decision for your business.

Every organization has some specific preferences, so to speak. In some cases, scalability would be more valuable than speed, in others the opposite will be true. Which one holds more advantages for your specific operation is not for us to decide. But we can give you a general rundown of all major features for both environments.

Obviously, we physically cannot provide you with every little detail there is, and in some cases, there will not be a clear winner.

In order to make the matter a little bit easier, we decided to separate our comparison into subgroups. So without further ado.

SharePoint 2013 – Online Features Comparison


And what’s better way to start comparing the two than discuss their security capacities. Microsoft has worked hard and put a lot of money into Office 365 security capabilities with Azure Active Directory. We’ve discussed previously the differences between Exchange and Office 365 security, and the winner there was the cloud platform.

Although it’s need to be mentioned that some organizations still prefer to store some sensitive data on private servers.

Moreover, cloud computing makes sharing of the content easy without it being insecure or uncontrolled, while on-premise solutions still require additional work.

On-Premise 0 | Online 1

Document Management

It is probably the most important issue when it comes to SharePoint environment. So Microsoft did its best when designing an online replacement to match its older brother capabilities. And they did this perfectly, as all the features like search, metadata, content types are similar in both versions.

However, the presence of two workflow platforms is really confusing for any SP developer. So only those skilled in SharePoint Designer and Visual Studio can feel comfortable when creating new workflows.

In this category there is no clear winner, so we give a point to each platform.

On-Premise 1 | Online 2

Performance Comparison

Here is a tricky one. Theoretically, SharePoint 2013 should be faster than its online counterpart. However, that is only true when installed and configured correctly on the server side with all the proper warm-up scripts. But our practice shows that it is rarely the case. And in most instances on-premise SharePoint requires performance optimization quite soon after deployment when databases start expanding too quickly.

Obviously, SharePoint Online would not have such troubles, but the trade-off is slower performance that you can get from it. And as much as we want to ground this in reality, we have to place these two at their best for comparison.

On-Premise 2 (only with optimized performance) | Online 2


Both environments have similar document libraries so it would seem like collaboration capabilities are the same. Wrong!

For example, SharePoint Online allows for great real-time co-authoring due to the cloud computing features of Office 365, while there is no such possibility in the 2013 version.

Calendars and Custom lists here are practically the same, with a small issue on the Office 365 side. The thing is when a single list gets past about 5,000 views, the performance tends to be better on the on-premise version by a small margin.

In terms of navigation, the on-premise SharePoint works a little bit better when merged with a bit of PowerShell and CSS. While the App Launcher creates a couple more clicks for the end user.

But with Outlook tasks app all the SharePoint Online tasks can be distributed and aggregated efficiently. Add to this improved communication via extensions such as Lync and you will get a possibility of creating flawless workflow.

In this category, it is no wonder that we give the point to the online version since cloud platforms were designed to serve as a natural evolution on server-based solutions.

On-Premise 2 | Online 3

Concluding our Comparison

So here you have it, by a small margin but we have to give our personal preference to SharePoint Online. If your interest lies in improving security and collaboration within your firm, then you might be interested in our SharePoint to Office 365 migration services. And if your primary target is speed, then we can assist you in optimizing your SharePoint performance to its maximum potential. At Digital Design, we pride ourselves on being the best through responsibility, self-improvement and transparency.