Often, I get questions from end users on deciding which one would serve best: Network File share or SharePoint? My Answer to them:
Definitely, SharePoint offers much more collaborative features compared with Network File Shares. Such as:
- Versioning Control – adds the ability to see older versions of documents
- Metadata (like When & who updated the documents and the ability to add and manage additional file properties, columns, metadata)
- User security management/permissions/ Item visibility – Users do not have the ability to see information that they do not have permission to see.
- Views (or Filters)
- If it’s a Published site, You can access it from anywhere
- Check-in / Check-out
- Workflows – such as approval procedure, help to automate simple or complex tasks
- Recycle bins
- Encryption – When SharePoint sites are SSL Enabled
- Search, Alerts, RSS, etc.
Taking all the above information in consideration, I would recommend data to be placed in SharePoint when it needs some or more of the properties mentioned above.
However, when it comes to SharePoint document libraries, it has some limitations, like: Files must be Below 100 MB (There is will be a Speed difference between uploading large to a SharePoint site and uploading to a network drive. Definitely, a network drive would be the faster one. Also, Network File shares have their own advantages, like easy to navigate, move stuff around, copy it, rename it).
Network file shares are the best option when it comes to large file size, Archival, and content which does not change much. I can mention the Collaboration of teams with documents, spreadsheets presentations, and reports that would benefit from the SharePoint features.