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IT Tips & Tricks

Life After SharePoint 2019: Online or SharePoint Server Subscription Edition? Which is Better?

Published 8 March 2020

Updated 23 June 2022

Updated 20 February 2024

Maybe you’re thinking about SharePoint 2019’s End of Life and asking yourself, “Should I transition from SharePoint 2019 to SharePoint Online, or should I start looking around for alternative on-prem options?” If you’re looking to stay current with one of the most popular and widely used apps in the world, then SharePoint Online is a great option, as borne out by its 200 million active monthly users. And it’s unlikely that the 80% of Fortune 500 companies that use SharePoint Online are wrong, right? But if you need to stay on-prem and want to stick with SharePoint, there is an alternative, and we’ll explore that option below.

What Are the Benefits of Migrating to SharePoint Online?

If, up until recently, you’ve been a SharePoint 2019 on-prem fan, you may be aware that you could stay on-prem with SharePoint Server Subscription Edition (SPSE) to maintain your status quo. This is handy in light of SharePoint 2019’s EOL. But if you’re considering transitioning from on-prem to the Cloud, then SharePoint Online is a natural candidate. Here are the perks of SharePoint Online.


SharePoint offers easy, instant collaboration.

With SharePoint Online, Microsoft provides the necessary data redundancy protections through its servers and data centers. That means less work for you. And just as your on-prem version enabled users to store, share and manage content seamlessly, so does SharePoint Online. The simple truth is that SharePoint Online is essentially the Cloud version of SharePoint 2019.

SharePoint Online is licensed on a per-user basis, and can either be purchased as a standalone plan, or included as part of Microsoft 365.

There are several advantages to Microsoft’s cloud-based SharePoint hosting services:

  • You won’t have to pay for on-prem hardware and the techs to run it.
  • Microsoft handles all the updates, security patches and infrastructure management for SharePoint Online users. Per Microsoft, “Microsoft will release a single software update each month that will contain all of the changes. Going forward, customers will only need to install this single software update each month to be fully up to date with the latest security fixes, bug fixes, and new feature experiences.” For SPSE, you’ll be responsible for updates and maintenance.
  • In SharePoint Online, backups are managed by Microsoft every 12 hours. You literally don’t even have to think about it. For on-prem users, backups and their frequency are completely up to you and your IT team.
  • Data stored in the Cloud is accessible anytime, from anywhere. Similar results can be achieved with SPSE via a VPN or a remote desktop scenario. Once you’ve “tunneled in” to your corporate environment, the on-prem server will be available to you.

If you don’t want to migrate to the Cloud, you can have your cake and eat it too with SharePoint Server Subscription Edition.

  • SharePoint Online offers an easily scalable solution for organizations of all sizes. Whether you’re a small-scale business or a large multinational conglomerate, SharePoint Online can scale to your needs at additional cost. Since it’s easy to add or remove users from the environment, you never have to pay for more than you need. With SharePoint on-prem, your scalability is dependent on your physical infrastructure.
  • With SharePoint Online, you get full integration with Microsoft 365, while an on-prem version such as SPSE is more limited and
    requires configuration.

SharePoint On-Prem vs. SharePoint Online

Just to be perfectly clear, SharePoint Server Subscription Edition was released in November 2021 and is the on-prem software that contains the same collaboration and productivity features as previous SharePoint on-prem versions, such as SharePoint 2019. The big difference is the monthly subscription licensing model. If you need to stay on-prem, SPSE is your ticket.

If, however, you’re ready to embrace the Cloud, then SharePoint Online is your best bet.

While both the online and on-premise versions of SharePoint have traditionally offered great benefits for business collaborative efforts and other increasingly digitized operations, based on the vast number of active users, SharePoint Online is the way of the future.

Let’s take a quick look at what you need to know about migrating to SharePoint Online.

Migrating to SharePoint Online

Since SharePoint Online is cloud-based, it means that the infrastructure required to run the application and store the data is entirely online. Because of this, it takes up no physical space in your facility. However, your IT team will need to create the infrastructure to migrate your existing data to the Cloud.


With SharePoint, there are only two options: Online or on-prem. Which is right for you?

In addition, your admin team will have to set up your business’s SharePoint environment in the Cloud. Admins and key stakeholders will need to organize site content and determine which features will be needed for content management. Admins, developers, and site owners will be tasked with customizing the various sites with apps and solutions
as well.

Maintenance and Updates

When it comes to maintenance and updates, SharePoint Online provides a considerable amount of convenience and ease of use. The Cloud platform is maintained by Microsoft, while updates and patches are automatically installed without your IT or admin teams ever having to worry about them.

Matters are more complicated if you’re hosting the application on-premise, such as with SPSE. First of all, your IT team will need to make sure the server hardware is always in good working order to maximize operational speed and minimize downtime. When it comes to updates and patches, it’s necessary to document the environment, manage the various customizations, create an update strategy, prepare the farm items, test the update, and finally, implement it.

It’s unlikely that the 80% of Fortune 500 companies that use SharePoint Online are
wrong, right?

Securing Your Data

When you use a cloud-based application to manage your data, that data is outside of your physical reach. This can be a concern for businesses that want to — or are required to — protect sensitive data. See the “Data Security” section below for further details.

With SharePoint Server Subscription Edition, you have more control over who accesses your data, as well as how it’s encrypted when it’s stored and transmitted. The software provides various Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocols you can enable according to your requirements.

In addition, there are various third-party cybersecurity software packages available that have features specifically geared to SharePoint.


It’s becoming more and more common for businesses to customize processes and integrate third-party apps to improve their workflows. SharePoint Online may or may not support your current customizations of add-ins. If you’re planning to migrate your SharePoint on-premise application to the Cloud, it’s wise to first determine whether or not customizations will be supported. If not, you may have to look for alternative solutions — or go with SharePoint Server Subscription Edition.

Scaling Up

If your organization is expanding, SharePoint Online offers the convenience of scalability since you can purchase more capacity whenever you need to. The beauty of this is that you only pay for what you need. That said, it’s important to properly manage your data to avoid storing duplicate content and driving costs up unnecessarily. Obviously, with an on-prem version such as SPSE, scalability will be limited by the size of your servers.

Cost of SharePoint Online

Updates and patches are automatically installed without your IT or admin teams ever having to worry about them.

For organizations of all types and sizes, costs are, of course, a major consideration. Microsoft offers SharePoint Online as part of Microsoft 365 in several different plans. Prices are correct as of January 2024, and all require a 12-month commitment.

SharePoint (standalone) is $5 per user per month and offers the features most
needed by small to
mid-sized organizations.

Microsoft 365 Business Basic is $6 per user per month and offers apps and services to help kick-start a business, including:

  • Identity, access and user management for up to 300 employees
  • Custom business email (
  • Web and mobile versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook
  • Chat, call, and video conference with Teams
  • 1 TB of Cloud storage per employee
  • 10+ additional apps for your business needs (Bookings, Planner, Forms, and others)
  • Automatic spam and malware filtering
  • Anytime phone and web support

Microsoft 365 Business Standard is $12.50 per user per month and includes all of the features of Business Basic, plus:

  • Desktop versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook
  • Webinars with attendee registration and reporting
  • Collaborative workspaces to co-create using Loop
  • Video editing and design tools with Clipchamp

Microsoft 365 Business Premium is $22.00 per user per month and includes everything in Business Standard, plus:

  • Advanced identity and access management
  • Enhanced cyber threat protection against viruses and
    phishing attacks
  • Enterprise-grade device and endpoint protection
  • Discover, classify, and protect sensitive information

For an accurate estimate of the costs involved with licensing, it’s advisable to contact Microsoft directly.

But what if you have docs that you don’t want to share — things you don’t want seen, such as private contracts or confidential agreements?

How to Decide Which Version of SharePoint Is Right for You

SharePoint on-prem (SPSE) and SharePoint Online have their differences, and what works for someone else’s business may be less effective for yours. You’ll need to consider a few questions before deciding on a new data management solution. Some of these questions include:

How much can my company afford?

The cost of SharePoint Online is outlined above. SharePoint Server Subscription Edition ranges from $15 to $30 per user per month, depending on your requirements. For common questions about SPSE licensing, see here.

Data Security


When it comes to security, who do you trust more? Microsoft or your own
IT team?

Due to security concerns that surround Cloud applications, you might be wondering whether your data will be safe in
SharePoint Online.

Cloud service providers are constantly working to develop the latest safety solutions so businesses can protect their most confidential data.

According to Microsoft: All customer data stored in SharePoint Online is encrypted (with one or more AES 256-bit keys) and distributed across the data center as follows. (Every step of this encryption process is FIPS 140-2 Level 2 validated. For additional information about FIPS 140-2 compliance, see FIPS 140-2 Compliance.)

  • Each file is split into one or more chunks, depending on file size. Each chunk is encrypted using its own unique AES 256-bit key.
  • When a file is updated, the update is handled in the same way: the change is split into one or more chunks, and each chunk is encrypted with a separate unique key.
  • These chunks — files, pieces of files, and update deltas — are stored as blobs in Azure storage that are randomly distributed across multiple Azure storage accounts.
  • The set of encryption keys for these chunks of customer data is, itself, encrypted.
  • The map used to re-assemble the file is stored in the Content Database along with the encrypted keys, separately from the master key needed to decrypt them.
  • Each Azure storage account has its own unique credentials per access type (read, write, enumerate, and delete). Each set of credentials is held in the secure Key Store and is regularly refreshed.

Obviously, any on-prem solution places the responsibility for security squarely at your door.

Clearly, there are several sound reasons for transitioning to SharePoint Online, unless what you need and want is to maintain your current on-prem operation. If that’s the situation it may be wise to explore SharePoint Server Subscription Edition.

What is SharePoint Server
Subscription Edition?

Microsoft’s SharePoint Server Subscription Edition (SPSE) is an on-premise software option that contains the same collaboration and productivity features as SharePoint’s previous on-premise versions but will no longer require costly major version upgrades to acquire
new features.

SPSE is the newest version of SharePoint Server. Its new subscription licensing model provides monthly updates, rather than the previous model of purchasing a license with a 10-year support lifecycle. SPSE also includes new features for security and update procedures.

Installing these updates each month keeps you fully up to date with the latest fixes, bug fixes, and new feature experiences.

SPSE focuses on three core principles:

  • Constantly Current: Ever-changing business conditions require agility, so SPSE allows customization for your specific enterprise needs with regular updates.
  • Steadfast and Secure: The prevention of security breaches and compliance with regulatory standards are priority issues for organizations and their IT departments. With SPSE, you get scalability, dependency, and security, while still being able to rapidly handle massive amounts of data highly efficiently.
  • Designed for On-Prem: The administrative enhancements, security and dependability provided by SPSE are specifically tailored to the special requirements of on-premises settings.

So, if you want to stay with SharePoint after 2019’s EOL, and don’t want to migrate to the Cloud, you can have your cake and eat it too with SharePoint Server Subscription Edition. Further details are available at SharePoint Server Subscription Edition. For pricing, visit the Microsoft Licensing page.

We understand that change inevitably raises questions, so we’ll address a couple of commonly asked
questions below.

But what if you have docs that you don’t want to share — things you don’t want seen, such as private contracts or confidential agreements?

SharePoint Basics: Supplemental Information

If you’re new to SharePoint, this section offers some basic data. SharePoint is a powerful enterprise content management and collaboration tool with a myriad of features that allow you to manage content, host files, integrate third-party apps, and communicate and collaborate within and outside of your organization.

First launched in 2001 by Microsoft, an estimated 200 million professionals in approximately 250,000 businesses across the globe currently use it. Whether you choose the on-prem or online version, SharePoint offers advanced technologies to ensure your business can operate securely and efficiently.

Here are a couple of other questions you might have when it comes to understanding SharePoint:

SharePoint or Microsoft 365?

Luckily, you don’t have to choose between SharePoint or Microsoft 365. You can if you want to, but you don’t have to. Why? Because SharePoint is available both as a standalone option or as part of Microsoft 365 — Microsoft’s subscription-based productivity tool that offers key business applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Skype.

If you want a robust, compliant environment where users can easily manage documents and workflows across the organization, create and share content, and facilitate collaboration between users and teams — both inside and outside the organization — with the benefit of the suite of Office features, then Microsoft 365 (including SharePoint) is probably your best option.

SharePoint vs. OneDrive?

If you were hoping for an exciting IT showdown or controversial comparison between SharePoint and OneDrive, you’ll have to look elsewhere for your kicks, because there’s no IT equivalent of Clash of The Titans here. There’s simply no contest. In this arena, there’s no “one is better than the other” mentality, because, quite simply, OneDrive is part of every Microsoft 365 plan available (as is SharePoint), including the individual standalone SharePoint plan. OneDrive is simply Microsoft 365’s Cloud-based document and file storage system, available to both SharePoint and Microsoft 365 users alike.

For the majority of organizations, the Cloud is the way of the future, but if you need to remain on-prem, SharePoint Server Subscription Edition is a logical alternative.

But there is a difference between SharePoint and OneDrive, and it’s worth mentioning. SharePoint is a collaborative cloud storage space for team collaboration and knowledge sharing. It allows users to share files, calendars, and contacts, and work together. But what if you have docs that you don’t want to share — things you don’t want seen, such as private contracts or confidential agreements?

That’s OneDrive’s job. OneDrive is a personal storage space for documents and files that you want to keep private. It therefore offers advanced security for your protection and, for your convenience, the ability to access your data from anywhere.

SharePoint is the equivalent of leaving docs lying on the table in the conference room, where anyone can lay eyes on them. OneDrive is like securely tucking your data away in the safe in your private office.

The Future is Online

The advantage of SharePoint Online is that it offers great storage flexibility and automatically keeps you up to date with the latest features and technology. In an ever-changing world of data and information technology, the degree of scalability offered by SharePoint Online is often essential.

All things considered, both the on-premise and the online versions of SharePoint offer equitable advantages. For the majority of organizations, the Cloud is the way of the future, but if you need to remain on-prem, SharePoint Server Subscription Edition is a logical alternative.

Your Data Migration Partner

To learn more about migrating to SharePoint Online — or anywhere else, for that matter — while reducing the potential for data loss,
contact us today.

Our team of experts is dedicated to providing you with correct and comprehensive information regarding migrating to SharePoint Online and helping propel your business into the future. Call 727-442-1822 to talk to a knowledgeable Service Consultant.

We hope this guide puts you closer to making the right decision for your business. LinkTek is here to support your SharePoint usage and make life easier for your IT team every single day. We do that by offering tools like LinkFixer Advanced™ that make SharePoint migration simpler by fixing or preferably preventing broken file links that result in downtime, missing data, and the upset they cause to both end-users and
bosses alike.

Try LinkFixer Advanced yourself by requesting a free trial today!