Teams Native Files Policy Disables SharePoint and OneDrive Access

For Organizations Wanting to Use Other Storage Systems

As I noted on July 18, the Teams Files channel tab is one of the two default channel tabs populated by Microsoft Teams for every new channel (the Wiki was a default channel tab, but won’t be for much longer). I also noted that Files is approaching feature parity with the SharePoint Online browser interface, which helps people stay working within Teams without the need to fire up a browser and switch their context to another app.

Another way of keeping people working in Teams is outlined in message center MC400957 (July 15), which brings news that Word, Excel, and PowerPoint (WXP) are now available as Teams personal apps. This means that the WXP apps can be pinned to the app bar (Figure 1).

WXP apps in the Teams app selection and app bar
Figure 1: WXP apps in the Teams app selection and app bar

These efforts exist to allow Teams to leverage the Microsoft 365 ecosystem to the hilt. You work in Teams and use WXP to generate content that’s stored in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, with easy access to the files through the Teams Files app and the Files channel tab.

Breaking Away from Microsoft Storage

But what happens if an organization chooses to store its content in non-Microsoft repositories? You can enable cloud storage for individual users using services like Box, Dropbox, Dropbox for Business, Google Drive, Egnyte, and Citrix ShareFile. Teams apps are available for Box, Egnyte, and ShareFile to allow users to manage content in these repositories within Teams.

Making apps available to Teams users is easy, but you’re still left with the problem that people see the default Files channel tab and options to retrieve files in SharePoint and OneDrive for Business when sharing content in channel conversations or chats. This is where the Teams Files policy is useful.

Teams Files Channel Policy

The Teams Files policy (or as the Microsoft documentation refers to it, the Teams Native Files Upload policy) is not available in the Teams admin center and must be configured through PowerShell using the *-CsTeamsFilesPolicy cmdlets. As far as I can tell, these cmdlets have existed for about a year and were introduced to help customers use third-party storage solutions (here’s the support guidance for Box).

The policy controls two settings:

  • NativeFileEntryPoints: Default enabled. If disabled, Teams removes the options to upload files from OneDrive for Business, other cloud storage services configured for the user account, and SharePoint Online (Teams and channels).
  • SPChannelFilesTab: Default enabled. If disabled, Users do not see the Teams Files channel tab in any channel or in Teams chat. However, Teams continues to configure SharePoint sites for new teams and folders in the SharePoint sites for new channels.

For example, to see the set of Teams Files policies defined in a tenant run:

Get-CsTeamsFilesPolicy

Identity              : Global
NativeFileEntryPoints : Enabled
SPChannelFilesTab     : Enabled

Only one policy exists, and this is the global (default) policy. You could update it to affect the Files behavior for all users, but it’s usually better to create a custom policy and assign it to user accounts. For example, this policy disables both files settings and assigns the new policy to a user account:

New-CsTeamsFilesPolicy -Identity NoSPOFilesTab -SPChannelFilesTab Disabled -NativeFileEntryPoints Disabled
Grant-CsTeamsFilesPolicy -Identity Terry.Hegarty@office365itpros.com -PolicyName NoSPOFilesTab

After waiting 15 minutes or so, the policy should be effective for the account and the user should no longer see a Files tab in channels (Figure 2) or for chats.

No Teams Files channel tab is visible for this channel
Figure 2: No Teams Files channel tab is visible for this channel

In addition, because the native file entry points setting is disabled, when they respond to channel conversations and chats, they won’t be able to upload a file to share it (Figure 3).

The access to OneDrive and SharePoint is missing
Figure 3: The access to OneDrive and SharePoint is missing

Loops Still Allowed

Interestingly, users can still share a Loop component in Teams chat, which is a form of upload because they create a fluid file in their OneDrive for Business account. I guess creating a new Loop file is not quite the same as uploading an existing file to share.

Useful Toolkit Item to Control the Teams Files Channel Tab

Microsoft obviously hasn’t publicized the existence of the Teams Files policy. However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a useful tool to have if an organization has some (or all) of its users who prefer using a third-party storage solution and don’t really want to go anywhere near the Files channel tab. The bottom line is that the Teams Files policy is a useful thing to have in an administrator toolkit. You never know when you’ll need it, but when you do, you’ll be glad the policy exists.


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