Welcome to ITS! Learn more about our exciting merger with Intivix and PC Miracles.

Marketing Team

By: Marketing Team on September 21st, 2022

Print/Save as PDF

Microsoft Teams External Access vs. Guest Access

Managed IT Services | Microsoft 365

It’s clear that work patterns have drastically changed with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With many businesses doing remote work at this time (and likely in the future once this is over), collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams have also become the new norm. Companies no longer use these tools solely for internal communication; they also use them to engage with external users on different initiatives and projects.   

With the convenience of inviting external guests to access critical business information, however, comes the risk of exposing sensitive information. 

On Microsoft Teams, there are two options to support external collaboration in the platform: external access and guest access. Intelligent Technical Solutions (ITS) has helped hundreds of US-based businesses through the years with technology and cybersecurity – and our goal is to extend our scope and share our knowledge on cybersecurity with this article. We’ll cover the following: 

  • What is Microsoft Teams external access?  
  • What is Microsoft Teams guest access? 
  • What are the differences between Microsoft Teams external and guest access? 
  • When should you grant external or guest access? 

By the end of this article, you can collaborate with people outside your organization and rest easy knowing that your data stays secure. 

What is Microsoft Teams External Access? 

External access allows users to access your entire domain, which means people outside your domain can contact you. This access enables calls, video chatting, and instant messaging with almost anyone with a Microsoft Teams or Skype business account.   

access as a keyboard button

This access also allows users to see an internal directory of your organization to search for the specific person to collaborate with. 

External access is enabled in Teams by default, which means users can enjoy its benefits anytime as long as they have a Microsoft Teams profile. If privacy is a big deal, you can restrict external access by blocking specific domains or turning it off entirely. 

Note that users with external access are not allowed to do the following: 

  • Share files 
  • See the out-of-office message of someone in another organization 
  • Access Teams resources 
  • View the phone number of dial-in meeting participants 
  • Use “Meet Now” 

What is Microsoft Teams Guest Access? 

Guest access allows external users to be added to your organization. They have almost similar capabilities to your native users. They can use instant messaging, voice and video chat, and access shared company files stored in your cloud drive. 

Guest access is suitable when people outside your organization are heavily involved in a project, as it eliminates the delays caused by asking permission to access files and drives. 

Anyone with an Azure Active Directory or consumer email account can be granted guest access in Microsoft Teams. 

Azure Active Directory

Although guest access offers more capabilities than external access, it still has restrictions. Users with guest access are not allowed to do the following: 

  • Search for people in other organizations 
  • Create teams 
  • Edit calendar items and schedules 
  • Upload files to individual conversations 

Differences Between External and Guest Access 

The information above may have already given you an idea about the differences between the two types of accesses, but we’ve prepared the following table to help you compare: 

Features 

External Access 

Guest Access 

Chat with someone in another organization 

Yes 

Yes 

Call someone in another organization 

Yes 

Yes 

See if someone from another organization is available for a call or chat 

Yes 

Yes 

Search for people in other organizations 

Yes 

No 

Share files 

No 

Yes 

See the out-of-office message of someone in another organization 

No 

Yes 

Use @mentions 

Yes 

Yes 

Access Teams resources 

No 

Yes 

Be added to a group chat 

Yes 

Yes 

Be invited to a meeting 

Yes 

Yes 

Make private calls 

Yes 

Yes 

View the phone number for dial-in meeting participants 

No 

Yes 

Use IP video 

Yes 

Yes 

Use screen sharing 

Yes 

Yes 

Use meet now 

No 

Yes 

Edit sent messages 

Yes 

Yes 

Delete sent messages 

Yes 

Yes 

Use Giphy in conversation 

Yes 

Yes 

Use memes in conversation 

Yes 

Yes 

Use stickers in conversation 

Yes 

Yes 

Presence is displayed 

Yes 

Yes 

Create teams 

Yes 

No 

Edit calendar items  

Yes 

No 

Upload files to individual conversations 

Yes 

No 

You may find a full comparison list between external and guest access on Microsoft’s page. 

When to Grant External and Guest Access? 

a person thinking

Businesses must be careful when choosing between external and guest access. Grant the wrong one, and you will end up with a communication disaster or, worse, unwanted data access and security incidents. 

External access is commonly used for contacting users from a different domain. It’s a great way to discover and be discovered by various organizations. Grant external access when: 

  • You have users in external domains who need to communicate (For example, mike@its.com and kat@someothercompany.com are working on a project and need constant communication) 
  • You want your team to contact people in specific businesses outside of your organization 
  • You want other organizations to find and contact you and your team using your email address 

Meanwhile, Guest Access is helpful when working with users requiring team and channel access. Use Guest Access when: 

  • Your project requires more in-depth collaboration tools 
  • Your clients/partners need to access files and documents to check and collaborate on a project 

Ready to Choose Between MS External and Guest Access? 

Microsoft Teams external and guest access are essential in collaborating with other businesses and outside users. Both types help foster good communication between two parties simultaneously working on a project. 

Though external and guest access may sound alike, they have several differences in their capabilities. Knowing those differences will not just make collaboration more seamless but will also help you make intelligent decisions when it comes to protecting your data. 

At ITS, we help businesses make intelligent decisions on their IT needs by sharing our knowledge of technology and cybersecurity.  

Make Microsoft work for you! Discover how to use Microsoft 365 to your advantage by reading our article How to Succeed with Microsoft Teams. 

Tips for Improving your video conferencing experience