An In-Depth SharePoint Version Comparison | 2013, 2016, 2019, SP Online

Need an in-depth comparison between the different versions of SharePoint? You found it! In this article, we will be discussing the features of SharePoint versions 2013, 2016, 2019 and Online.  

To develop a better understanding between the SharePoint Servers (2013, 2016, 2019) and SharePoint Online, let’s first discuss the use of both, and which version would be the most effective in providing you the solutions to your business needs. 

SharePoint Online vs. SharePoint On-Premises 

SharePoint online a cloud-based service that is provided from Microsoft directly, can be bundled with Office 365 or purchased as a standalone item. If you purchase SharePoint Online, Microsoft will take care of the architecture of the whole setup. Keep in mind that this means you are more limited to governing your own data and architecture, with a fewer number of options for integrations. With internal resources reduced and no need to purchase additional hardware, your IT team can focus on more productive and less time-consuming tasks. SharePoint server is a locally-hosted platform that your own company owns and operates. This means your organization is responsible for things like active directory and server-building. If having freedom with servers, architecture, and your own data (not placing important information in the cloud) is very important to you, SharePoint On-Premises is your best option.  


SharePoint On-Premises maintenance must be managed by your IT team and requires updates with patches and other updates, while SharePoint Online is updated by Microsoft automatically. Although it does seem like SharePoint Online has the edge in terms of updates, SharePoint On-Premises provides the benefit of having the downtime when new updates are released. 


If you’re leaning towards the On-Premises solution, you must also purchase certain hardware including licences, etc. On-Premises will also require your IT team to spend more time managing the server which could incur extra costs for your business. However, it may still be the ideal solution for your organization if your information must be behind a firewall, you want increased customization abilities, or you want to have control over your own update cycle. With SharePoint Online being bundled with Office 365, you are billed monthly for each user. SharePoint Online also frees you from some of the additional hardware and licensing costs that come with On-Premises.   

To start, here is a quick rundown of SharePoint 2013, SharePoint 2016, and 2019 


SharePoint 2013 

SharePoint 2016 

SharePoint 2019 

Content DB Size  200GB  1+TB  1+TB 
Site Collection per Database  5000  100000  10000 
App Launches  No  Yes  Yes 
SP Search Application   Index 100 Mil Items  Index 500 Mil Items  Index 500 Mil Items 
Min Roles   No   Yes  Yes 
MinRole Farm Topology  No  Yes  Yes 
Upload File Size   2GB  10GB  15GB 
Zero Downtime Patching  No  Yes  Yes 
Integrated Project Server   No  Yes  Yes 
5000 threshold override   Yes  Yes  Yes 

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Differences between SharePoint 2013, 2016, and 2019 explained 

App Launcher 

SharePoint 2016 matches the Office 365 interface for easier navigation to both SharePoint 2016 and Office 365.  

Min roles 

SharePoint 2016 allows you to select the desired role of a server and with that role Servers will have service enabled, meaning no need to individual run SP services on SP Farms . 

Min-role farm topology 

Up to a total of 6 roles are available to either join an existing Farm or create a new one.  

Project server 

Licenced separately, Project Server is installed with SharePoint 2016 and 2019. 

Removed from 2013 

  1. Stand Alone Installation – Not possible for 2016 Single Server, will need SQL installed and configured 
  1. SharePoint Foundation – Removed 
  1. Excel Services in SharePoint – Need to use Office Online Server with Excel Online to use Excel services 
  1. Tags and Notes – Functionality removed  
  1. Stsadm.exe  

New for 2019 

Updated user interface 

SharePoint 2019’s new interface makes finding and accessing all of your organization’s SharePoint sites easier by having them all on your start page. You can also create different sites right from this new start page. This fresh homepage also makes team collaboration easier than ever by allowing all members to easily see the most common collaborative tasks and showcasing your team’s news. 

Power Apps integration  

SharePoint 2019 provides you with easy access to the cloud which features Power Apps, Power BI, and Power Automate.  

Mobile optimization 

Working anywhere at any time is easier than ever as SharePoint 2019 is fully optimized for mobile devices. 

SharePoint Online advantages 

Cost effective 

Your company won’t need to invest in any additional hardware or installations, just a monthly fee per user.  

Easy to manage  

Since SharePoint Online is web based, there’s no need to manage anything else, Microsoft takes care of almost everything you’d need to do. 

Ease of accessibility  

You can access files from anywhere and on any device, making collaborative efforts easier through a simple internet connection. 

Updates automatically  

No need to manually install updates and patches and Microsoft takes care of that for you. It is updated to the latest version with new features added as soon as they are ready for use. 

Security features 

SharePoint Online comes with security features to authenticate the validity of users and stop sensitive information from being obtained.  

SharePoint On-Premises advantages

More freedom 

Your IT department gets more freedom when it comes to how they create server architecture instead of Microsoft handling it for you. Your data is also not contained on the cloud, meaning your information will be stored locally. 

Intranet on company network 

Intranet will be available on your company’s network only.  

No downtime for updates 

Since your IT department is responsible for patches and upgrades, you can update to the latest versions without needing to wait for the update to be complete.  

Final thoughts 

Although there are many pros and cons to both SharePoint Online and SharePoint On-Premises, it ultimately comes down to what you want out of SharePoint and the infrastructures that are already in place. SharePoint online is best for companies that want to build an intranet that is more scalable. Your costs are reduced with less hardware needed. While in contrast, if your company already has a well-placed and dedicated infrastructure with more needed customization including more storage space than Microsoft offers, SharePoint On-Premises would be your ideal option. 

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