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What is external sharing? External Sharing in Office 365 SharePoint can be simply described as making content available to people outside of your organization.
SharePoint is the best tool for document management and that probably won’t change anytime soon. SharePoint admin center manages the configurations and permissions for external sharing.

External sharing can be enabled in:
SharePoint Online
OneDrive
Microsoft Teams
Office 365 Groups

Here in this article, you will see the external sharing options and classifications in SharePoint online and OneDrive.

SharePoint Online external sharing

External sharing for SharePoint Online is at two-levels

  1. Organization level:
    For any external sharing to be allowed, it has to be enabled at the organization level.
    You can always change the organization-level external sharing setting from the SharePoint admin center.
  2. Site-level:
    Once enabled across the organization, external sharing can be restricted on a site basis.
    Global admins or SharePoint admins in Office 365 can change the external sharing setting for a site but site owners don’t have permissions.

At the site level, it can be further classified as four basic options when it comes to external sharing:

  • No external sharing
    Go to your SharePoint admin center
    Select the left pane under Sites > Active sites.
    Select the site, and then click Sharing.
    Select the Only people in your organization option.
    Then click on Save.

  • Authenticated People
    Go to your SharePoint admin center
    Select the left pane under Sites > Active sites.
    Select the site, and then click Sharing.
    Select the Existing guest’s option, and select Save.
    Then click on Save.

  • New People
    Go to your SharePoint admin center
    Select the left pane under Sites > Active sites.
    Select the site, and then click Sharing.
    Select the New and existing guest’s option
    Then click on Save.

  • Anyone
    Go to your SharePoint admin center
    Select the left pane under Sites > Active sites.
    Select the site, and then click Sharing.
    Select the Anyone option
    Then click on Save.

SharePoint Document/Folder Sharing

Select the SharePoint document library you want to share. Then, click Share, and select any of the four options in the settings.

Anyone with the link: external sharing with anyone
People in [your organization] with the link: to share within your organization
People with existing access: to share with users who already have access
Specific people: to share with authenticated external users
Select allow editing checkbox to enable the recipient to make edits on the item. If you selected Anyone with the link, you can set an expiration date for the link.

Sharing a SharePoint site

Only global admins and site owners can share a SharePoint site with people outside your organization. This is for communication sites.

Go to the communication site you want to share and select Share site in the top right corner and enter the names of the users, groups, or security groups you want to share the site with.

For sharing Office 365 Group-connected team site, they will receive an invite via email prompting them to sign in. After that, the person will be added to your Azure Active Directory. The difference here is they will receive group emails, calendar invites, and Yammer as well. They can also access the group’s SharePoint team site and content.

OneDrive External Sharing

OneDrive is a site within SharePoint so, like SharePoint, you can configure external sharing in OneDrive. Your organization’s SharePoint settings and OneDrive settings are very much related.

In the Microsoft 365 admin center, under Settings > All admin centers> OneDrive, you can manage links, and the external sharing settings.

External sharing best practices

Always turn on external sharing. Your users will able to collaborate and communicate with external guests or people at any time.
Proper governance policies will ensure everything is proper on a page when sharing it externally.
Teach your users how to properly share a document, site to avoid sharing of confidential and sensitive data out of your organization.
Turn off anonymous sharing. This will only allow authenticated external users to use shared data. By this setting, you will also get a chance to set an expiration date for which the data is shared. You can control the access to items.
Always check permission levels of your site collections and groups to ensure external users don’t have unnecessary permissions that allow them to access the data in your environment.
Check security reports every day.

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