You can’t upload files to Microsoft Forms from people outside the organisation. There’s no sign at the moment of this feature being added to the development pipeline. Microsoft Forms also offers quite a basic form building experience.
So what are your alternatives to using Microsoft Forms? Preferably that send files and content direct to OneDrive or SharePoint?
What are the best alternatives to Microsoft Forms?
Microsoft Forms often comes packaged together with Microsoft Office 365. It is designed to be used for quizzes, surveys and questionnaires. However, it is quite a basic form builder, you can’t request files from people external to your organisation, and it doesn’t connect easily to OneDrive or SharePoint. These limitations can be deal breakers in terms of using the product.
There are plenty of alternatives that offer a more sophisticated user experience and more impressive functionality. These roughly speaking fall into these categories:
- Use a file upload page or portal
- Use a competing form builder that allows file uploads
- Use document management software
Use a file upload page or portal that integrates with Microsoft cloud drives
File upload software offers an efficient and secure way to gather content and files from both internal and external users. Upload software should include a form builder as well as upload functionality.
Create a form like you would with Microsoft Forms. Then use additional functionality like dynamic file organisation and automated email sequences to streamline your file collection process and save time.
What is dynamic file organisation? Files and content from your clients go direct to the correct root folder on your cloud drive, organised into subfolders by whatever form field you choose.
File Request Pro is an easy-to-use file upload page builder suitable for all types of businesses, colleges and non-profits. It has generous limits in terms of file size, type and and bandwidth (any file or folder; 5 GB file limit; 1000 GB/month bandwidth for the $49 a month plan). Upload pages can be branded and embedded on your website, and you can enable automated reminders. You can also collect additional content using a variety of form fields and conditional logic. File Request Pro connects natively with OneDrive and SharePoint and supports dynamic file organisation. You can create as many file upload pages as you need.
FileInvite is similar file collection software, with a few extra features. You can get e-signatures on contracts and they provide pre-built templates to save set up time. Their focus is on creating a standalone dashboard where you can view content, rather than quickly sending content to your data collection apps. Cloud storage synching is available, but on pricier plans. Pricing is on request.
Content Snare is another useful file upload page builder, popular with content marketers and website designers. They also offer pre-built templates, as well as automatic reminders. In fact, you need to edit an existing template rather than create your own customised template. The $69/month plan gets you 100GB storage. Their focus is on creating a dashboard where you can view all content, including a Kanban-style board where you can see your workflows. To connect Content Snare to your Microsoft cloud drives you need to use Zapier. It’s not a native integration.
Some file upload pages (like ContentSnare) focus on providing you with a dashboard rather than integrations
Pros and Cons of file upload page software
File upload page software specialises in helping you get files and data from clients. You should find it easier to gather and organise these files than with form builders like Microsoft Forms. Most of these products have useful features such as automatic reminders and generous file/folder and bandwidth limits.
Some options (like File Request Pro) also make it easy for you to organise your files and content in your Microsoft cloud drives and embed an upload form on your website on your own subdomain.
A native Microsoft integration will make your life easier
The main disadvantages of file upload page software as a replacement for form builders is that they don’t have a free option.
If your main focus is on cheaply getting as many responses to a survey as possible, then file upload pages/portals aren’t your best choice. However, if you are a Microsoft-using business or non-profit that wants a secure and efficient way to gather and organise content, then give this type of product a try. Most have free trials.
Use a competing form builder that allows external file uploads
Microsoft Forms is a simple lightweight app that lets you easily create surveys, quizzes, and polls. It allows you to create attractive forms that will store your entries in excel spreadsheets, which can be sent to other Microsoft products like OneDrive and SharePoint.
Although competitors won’t connect so well with other Microsoft products, they do have the advantage of actually allowing uploads from external users. They also have a similar focus: allowing you to easily create forms, surveys and polls.
SurveyMonkey is a powerful form builder with an extensive feature set. It offers everything from a very basic free plan to enterprise options with a wide-ranging feature set. To allow file uploads you need to pay a minimum of £32 a month for a personal plan or £25/user/month for a business plan. You can’t white label your surveys unless you pay £75/user/month.
Typeform is a versatile form builder that allows you to create engaging forms with pictures and videos as well as text. Its logic jumps also mean you can easily customise surveys. For 29 USD/month you can allow external uploads of files that are less than 10 MB, with a 1GB storage limit. To get a 4GB storage limit you’ll need to pay 99 USD – but the 10MB limit per file remains.
Typeform make their surveys look informal and inviting
GoogleForms has a file upload option that lets you collect data in Google Sheets. It is free with your Google account, so is cost-effective. However, there are a few major issues: only people already logged into their Google accounts can upload content. So you can’t get external files from everyone. You also can’t embed Google Forms with upload functionality on your website.
Pros and Cons of competing form builders with upload functionality
The main advantage of choosing a competing form builder is that you can get people to upload files. In the case of SurveyMonkey and Typeform you can allow anyone to upload files: GoogleForms is restricted to Google users only. You also still get access to specialist form builder software, to create whatever forms you need.
The main disadvantages are that form builders focus on building forms. Being able to upload files is an ‘add on’ and usually feels like it. You’ll come across a number of problems, including:
- Limits on file size and storage (10 MB limit for TypeForm, for example)
- Limits on uploading files rather than folders (SurveyMonkey, Typeform and GoogleForms permits files only)
- Restrictions on whether you can embed a form in your website (no, with GoogleForms)
- Problems identifying uploaded files (with GoogleForms, the names of files must be different from one another or else they will override existing files with the same name)
- Awkward processing of uploaded files (with SurveyMonkey, files aren’t included when you export your survey data)
- No native integration with Microsoft cloud storage products like SharePoint and OneDrive
This is one example of the limitations of using SurveyMonkey for collecting files
If your priority is building forms, and you just need a few files uploaded, then competing form builders are a good choice. However, if collecting files from external users is a significant aspect of what you want to do, then you’ll be best looking at upload pages/portals as well. This way you can streamline both content gathering and content organisation, saving yourself a considerable amount of time and hassle.
Use document management software (DMS)
There is an overlap between file upload page software and document management software. Most file upload pages do a lot more than ‘just’ let you create an upload page. Most are really web portals, although this implies the need for a sign-up process for clients, which is usually not the case.
Document management software generally though have a much larger feature-set, and are aimed at bigger companies who need to collect, organise, collaborate and find a substantial amount of documents. Examples include Templafy and DocuWare.
If you’re looking for a way to upload files to Microsoft Forms you’re probably not going to want DMS. It would be like hiring a cruise ship when a sailing boat is all you need!
Uploading files from people outside your organisation using Microsoft and File Request Pro
If you’re already a Microsoft user, then it’s annoying to have to choose a Microsoft Forms competitor just to get files from your clients, suppliers and volunteers.
However, file uploader software like File Request Pro natively connects to Microsoft products like OneDrive and SharePoint. So you can gather the content you need within your existing Microsoft setup.