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Know How to Enable External Sharing of SharePoint Online Data

  author
Written By Nimisha Ramesh
Mack John
Approved By Mack John  
Published On August 25th, 2021
Reading Time 5 Minutes Reading

In every organization, whether it is large or small, sharing information with external users is an essential part of the Office 365 collaboration mystifier. Especially while working with vendors, clients, or any other users who are not the part of that enterprise and needs to communicate with the organization. With the cloud services, sharing crucial contents externally becomes easier for users.

Note: Migrate On-Premises Office 365 Sharepoint Data to other Sharepoint account using Sharepoint Migrator Tool.

What is External Sharing in SharePoint Online?

In Office 365, external sharing is an act of making information available to some other user who is not a part of your organization. However, the content can be shared anonymously or with any authenticated external user. External content sharing is administered at both of the tenant (global settings) and site collection level.

The documents can be shared with an external user through an anonymous link. The guest user who is accessing the document cannot be identified by the organization are called “anonymous users”. Information can also be shared with any authenticated external user. That means the guest user is invited by the organization and authorized to sign in via an account provided by a trusted supplier in order to access the information. These users are called “authenticated external user”.

How to Enable External Sharing for SharePoint Online?

Turning on external sharing on tenant level implies that the site collections can be enabled for content sharing. Before enabling External Sharing for SharePoint Online, make sure that it is enabled for your Office 365 tenant completely. This option can be found under the Security and Privacy menu of Settings tab inside the Tenant Admin Console. Here, you can turn on Control External Sharing Globally first.

  1. Open Office 365 and navigate to the Admin Center from its home screen
  2. From the Admin Center section, select the Admin Centers menu on the left-side pane and then click on SharePoint .
  3. This will refer you to SharePoint Admin Settings window, from where you can configure the tenant settings to allow external sharing
  4. Go to the Sharing  section to view entire sharing options
  5. Finally, click on Save

Here, note that by default, external sharing is enabled, anonymously or not, for your organization. This SharePoint Setting should be adjusted for your specific enterprise requirements to avoid the accidental data leaks. Here, various options are available, that you can select while configuring the external sharing:

  • Don’t allow sharing outside of your organization
    As the name expresses that, this option block the access to your tenant for every outside user that is not a part of your organization. It block users for all sites from sharing their content with external users. This option is usually enabled while the organizations do not requires to share their content externally.
  • Allow sharing only with the external users that already exist in your organization’s directory
    External users who do not yet subsist in your organization’s directory are blocked from accessing data. This is the safest option to share content externally. This option states your SharePoint environment that only authorized users are allowed for granted access to data of your tenant. An administrator can manually generate these external users via their Azure Active Directory through the Azure Portal. However, the SharePoint will not assist to add new users from its sharing interface.
  • Allow users to invite and share with authenticated external users
    Allow sharing with authorized external users means permitting your workers to invite new guest clients to your directory. Also, sharing specific content with other users, without any administrator direct approval. Your directory will be visible to the external users as guest users. Thus, these approvals can be deleted if you find that the documents are shared with those people with whom they should not.
  • Allow users to invite and share with authenticated external users and using anonymous access links
    This option refers to the share sites with users who are signed in as authenticated users. However, if you want to permit site users to share content through the anonymous guest links, that do not need to invite the recipients to sign in. Users can also define, the number of days for link expiry. This is the least safe and default alternative in SharePoint Online. Authenticated external users can be asked to log in and read or edit the documents.
  • Additional Settings
    Limit external sharing using domains: This option provides the granular level control to all the domains you do or do not want to let sharing with.

Notifications

To assist OneDrive for Business users in monitoring and controlling the external users from accessing files, you can define the owners of files and folders are emailed if:

  • Some other user invites any external users to share files
  • The external user accepts the invitation to access the contents
  • Any anonymous access link is generated or modified

The Verdict

External content sharing can be a very important component for proper collaboration with any organization. Thus, do not be afraid of enabling it. Moreover, Sharepoint data governance plays a very important role in the Office suite. Once users will understand its working technique and the way to enable External Sharing SharePoint Online and governance policy then, they will never prevent themselves from working with it.