SharePoint Online FAQ

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Q: I use SharePoint on-premise for my day-to-day work. Do I have to do anything?

A: If you use SharePoint on-premise (the current version of SharePoint), but don’t manage a SharePoint on-premise site, you will still be impacted by the move to SharePoint Online. New SharePoint Online sites will have different URLs from SharePoint on-premise sites, so your bookmarks and links will need to be updated.

Q. Do I have to use SharePoint Online?

A. You do not have to use SharePoint Online. Please do not think that you need to establish a 'presence' in SharePoint Online if you see no operational need for it. You may already have moved to using Teams successfully and prefer to continue using Teams for your purposes (this guide explains the difference uses of SharePoint Online, OneDrive and Teams). You must, however, stop using SharePoint on-premise by April 2023, as it will no longer be supported from that time, and any items remaining on SharePoint on-premise after this will no longer be available.

Q: Will I be able to use Nintex on SharePoint Online?

A: Nintex will not be available for SharePoint Online, as it is a third-party product that is additionally charged for. Microsoft tools such as Power Automate (was previously called Microsoft Flow) can replace functionality currently provided by Nintex, and are included in the licence cost.

Find out more about Power Automate on our page of Technical Information for SNAs.

Q: Is SharePoint Online hosted in a data centre which is ISO 27001 accredited?

A: Yes, please see this Microsoft document on ISO/IEC 27001:2013 Information Security Management Standards. It will also be audited annually.

Q: Will there be any provision for site customisation and branding?

A: There is much greater scope for easily customising and branding SharePoint Online sites "out of the box", without needing to be able to code these changes.

Q: How does SharePoint Online integrate with other Nexus365 services?

A: SharePoint libraries and lists can be added to Microsoft Teams (as tabs in channels) so that content can be shared between the two services. Items can be moved or copied between OneDrive for Business, Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Online. Microsoft Forms can be added to SharePoint pages (as can the results pages) and PowerAutomate / PowerApps can both be surfaced in, or connect to, SharePoint Online to trigger workflows or allow customisable forms for lists and libraries. 

Q: Can I use SharePoint Online to store large data files?

A: Technically yes, you can, but this is not the preferred option at the University. There are several other storage facilities available, such as RFS and Digisafe, that are better suited for storing large data files.

Q: Should I use Mosaic or SharePoint Online for my intranet?

A: Content in SharePoint Online is, by default, locked behind SSO, and you can choose which groups of people can access it, which makes it suitable for an intranet which is only accessible to a certain group of people at the University. You are not recommended to use Mosaic for large amounts of content that need to be kept behind SSO - please see the SSO guidance for UAS editors for further details.

Q: Will external collaborators (those without an SSO) be able to access a SharePoint Online site?

A: Yes, you can give access to SharePoint Online sites to external users. When you initially request a site, you will be asked if you want this switched on or off. If you have it switched on, then you can have external users access the site. External users no longer require a temporary separate external account or a virtual card to access the service. Instead they can now collaborate or read content using their own accounts in line with OneDrive and MS Teams. There’s more about external sharing on the Technical information for SNAs page.

Q: Can I use PowerApps Forms for SharePoint Online?

A: Currently PowerApps is out of scope for support within this project pending a decision from Microsoft about PowerApps licensing costs and restrictions.

Q: Is it ok to store confidential information such as payment card details in SharePoint Online?

No, payment card data should not be held anywhere in Office365, including in SharePoint Online. For further information regarding handling card payments, please see the taking card payments page on the Finance website.

Q: How much storage will we get on SharePoint Online?

A: Each SharePoint Online site will have 1TB of storage, the same as each Teams site. This is considerably more than is currently available in SharePoint on-premise, which only offers 25-100GB for an entire site collection, including all of the subsites in the hierarchy.

Q: Will the permission structure be different in SharePoint Online to how it is now?

A: Permissions will be slightly different in SharePoint Online and it will be much easier to see what has been shared with whom. We will encourage people to use SharePoint groups and Office365 groups to control access to sites and content.

Q: What will the structure of SharePoint sites and sub-sites look like in SharePoint Online?

A: SharePoint Online consists of hub sites and standalone sites. We will encourage people to move away from hierarchical structures and sub-sites and use this new hub-style network. For more information on Hubs and Sites please read this Microsoft article on Information architecture in modern SharePoint.

Q: Do I need to complete a DPIA (Data protection impact assessment) before building a site?

The need to identify, assess and manage privacy risks is an integral part of accountability under the GDPR. If you are processing personal, highly sensitive or special category data on a large scale or are matching and combining personal datasets, then a DPIA may be mandatory in these cases. You should therefore seek advice from your local GDPR champion or complete an initial DPIA assessment

Q: How many Business Owners and SNAs can I have?

A: We recommend that you have at least 2 SNAs and 1 Business Owner, although you can have more.

Q: How would I set up an SharePoint Online site for a large number of users? Do I need to add hundreds of people individually?

A: Speak to your Site Network Administrator (SNA) initially (or SCA if you have not yet moved to SharePoint Online). Your SNA will be able to provide advice around whether you can add people in groups, and which groups are available, for example a unit-level group, and how groups can be requested at site set-up. Please also see the Quick Reference Guide about Groups in SharePoint Online.

Q: The onboarding process for SharePoint Online doesn’t fit with our governance structure. How should I approach this as Business Owner or SNA?

A. The onboarding and site provisioning processes are both based around the PRAS University organisation structure, which is the only organisational structure we can refer to for the University. The Nexus team cannot change this. We recommend that you contact the other departments within your governance group as soon as possible to coordinate your SharePoint Online efforts, and decide who will request individual department sites. Please remember that SharePoint Online has a flat structure, rather than the sub-site hierarchy we had with SharePoint on-premise, and that standalone department sites can be knitted together with a hub from any of the sites.   

Please complete the onboarding form to establish an SPO presence for everyone within your governance structure, to ensure you have oversight of all site networks created. You can have multiple SNAs and BOs across one, some or all of site networks 

Q: I am not listed in the onboarding form. How do I request a presence in SharePoint Online?

A. The onboarding and site provisioning processes are both based around the PRAS University organisation structure, which is the only organisational structure we can refer to for the University. The Nexus team cannot change this.

If you cannot find your unit in the list, please contact the Nexus team directly.

Q: Who will be moving sites over? Is it me or is it IT Services?

A: The expectation is that creating new sites in SharePoint Online and moving any existing documentation will be done by Site Collection Administrators (SCAs) and site owners. IT Services will be providing guidelines for this.

Q: We have a SharePoint on-premise site but the Site Collection Administrator (SCA) has left and didn’t hand it on, how do we regain ownership?

A: Go to the IT Services Help website, click on "View requests" then "Help Request Form" and create a new request to change the ownership, or email Help at IT Services. Please include the following information:

  • Name and email of the new SCA
  • Which SharePoint site you are asking this for
  • Who will approve this request (a senior administrator)
  • Name of the SCAs you want to remove

Q: We have a SharePoint on-premise site that we’re not really using and we’re happy to delete it rather than move it to SharePoint Online. How do we do that?

A: Contact your Site Collection Administrator (SCA), who can delete sites and sub-sites. If you aren't sure who your SCA is, look at the Oxford University SharePoint site listing. If you are the SCA, this article has some useful instructions about how to delete sites in SharePoint.

If you can't proceed using this route, you can submit a request via the IT Services Help website. Click on "View requests" then "Help Request Form" and create a new request to delete the site, or email Help at IT Services. Please include the following information:

  • Which SharePoint site you would like to delete
  • Who will approve this request (a senior administrator)

With SharePoint on-premise, there is a difference between a "site collection" and a "sub-site". Sub-sites within a site collection can be deleted by the Site Collection Administrator (SCA).

NOTE: Deletion of site collections cannot be undone. Please make sure that the SCA or Site Owner has transferred all required material from a SharePoint site collection before deleting it.

We have written a Quick Reference Guide about Decommissioning SharePoint on-premise sites.

Q: Are there any GDPR or data privacy issues around moving content from on-premise to SharePoint Online?

A: SharePoint Online is GDPR compliant and the same data privacy governance and best practices will apply to SharePoint Online as to other parts of the Nexus365 Service. Consideration should also be given to the appropriate guidance on retention of data, such as the University’s advice on retention schedules for student and staff data.

Q: Should I move content from my existing MySite or OneDrive on-premise to SharePoint Online?

A: If you previously used MySite or OneDrive on-premise, these are your personal sites. Moving materials from them to your OneDrive for Business instance in Office365, or in the case of sites built in MySite, to SharePoint Online, is therefore your responsibility. If you require help in moving from MySites to SPO, you should contact your Site Network Administrator.

Q: I've learned that there is an SharePoint Online site behind my Teams site. Can I not use this instead of a requesting a new SharePoint Online site?

We highly recommend that you don't do this. If you do, you could risk breaking your Teams site, if you change the access permissions on specific documents. We highly recommend that you control access at overall site level, and request a new site if you need more granular access for some documents. There are more details available in the Permissions and Sharing QRG.


Q: When will the current on-premise SharePoint be turned off?

A: SharePoint on-premise will be turned off after the content of all sites has been moved to SharePoint Online. A final, hard deadline will be when SharePoint 2013 (the current version of SharePoint running on-premises) goes out of official Microsoft support in April 2023.

Q: When do I have to move my SharePoint site over?

A: SharePoint Online has been available from the end of November 2020. Site owners may wish to move content from straightforward sites as soon as they have a presence in SharePoint Online, whereas site owners of more complicated sites may need to undertake additional investigation in order to determine the best approach.

Q: We’re planning to do some new work on our SharePoint on-premise site - should we wait until SharePoint Online is available before making any further changes?

A: This is up to you, but please bear in mind that any work done now will most likely need to be replicated on a SharePoint Online site.

Q: I currently have a site on WebLearn, do I need to move this to SharePoint Online?

A: We are encouraging all WebLearn users to move from WebLearn to other services offered by the University, such as Canvas and SharePoint Online, as WebLearn is wound down with the intention of making it read-only in July 2022. If you are using WebLearn for document storage or as an intranet, then SharePoint Online is likely to provide a good alternative.

Find out more about the new Committee template in SharePoint Online.

Q: We use SharePoint to manage committee minutes - will this functionality be available in SharePoint Online?

A: The "Oxford Committee" SharePoint site template is currently used by approximately 200 sites to manage and administer their committee activities using calendars and document libraries. It is the only predefined template available to users. It has been redesigned in SharePoint Online and is planned to be available to users in 2021. It is intended that the majority of the functionality available in the existing template will be available in the new SharePoint Online Committee Template. Guidance in transferring over to the new committee template will be provided. Consideration should also be given to the appropriate guidance on retention of data, such as the University’s advice on retention schedules for student and staff data.

UPDATE April 2021: a meeting solution is now available - please see the Meeting solution page for more information

Q: What is the benefit of using the new template to create a Committee site on SharePoint Online versus using a Teams site that we have set-up for our Committee?

A: The Committee template in SharePoint Online offers additional functionality for managing committees. It will be possible to control access for different groups of Committee members to see different documents. There is a home screen with links to documents for 'Next' and 'Last' meetings, making these easily available to Committee members, with the ability to classify them as 'Above the line' or 'Below the line' to prioritise reading of meeting materials. There are also flows to enable documents to move between 'Next and 'Last' meetings based on the calendar entry for each meeting. You can add announcements to the home page to communicate important information to Committee members.

Q: Will future Committee meetings in SharePoint be automatically moved over to SharePoint Online?

A: You will need to copy the line items from the old calendar to the new one, which should be relatively straight forward to do. We will be testing this functionality and will provide more detailed guidance on how best to do this.

Q: Do you know if we will be able to move entire folders in the committee site across in one go, or will we only be able to move individual documents one-by-one?

A: That should be possible. We will be testing this functionality and will provide more detailed guidance on how best to do this.

Q: How do I move the contents of my Committee Site on-premise to the new Committee Site in SharePoint Online?

A: There is no way of automatically moving content to the new Committee site, or applying the new template to the old site. The data that you wish to move across, such as documents, folders and lists, will need to be moved between the two sites. For this, please refer to the QRG - Moving data between SharePoint on-premise and SharePoint Online for the available options.

Once any documents have been moved you will also need to reassign any metadata on the new Committee site. For example, the linked calendar tag. You could also consider whether you could archive the on-premise Committee site and start with a new Committee site at the start of the academic of calendar year if this is appropriate.


If you have any questions about SharePoint Online: