SkyDrive for Windows
Just before Google finally released Google Drive cloud storage and sync ( see our First Take here ), Microsoft made some improvements to its own cloud sync and storage service, SkyDrive, including releasing preview Windows and Mac versions of the SkyDrive app that’s already available for Windows Phone and iPhone. (There’s not an official SkyDrive app for Android, but Microsoft has endorsed a number of the free Android apps like Browser, Portfolio and Cloud Explorer).
SkyDrive itself was available since 2007; if you’ve used it before, you will get 25GB of storage free and new users get 7GB of space because Microsoft’s statistics show that’s all the majority use. That’s greater than the 5G included with Google Drive and iCloud, or the 2GB free with Dropbpox. The utmost file drive is now 2GB (just like Dropbox, but smaller than Google Drive’s 5GB), and videos are still limited to 100MB.
The preview SkyDrive app for Windows 7, Vista (and OS X) isn’t a file browser just like the mobile apps or maybe the Windows 8 Metro-style SkyDrive preview app; it doesn’t desire a special file browser since you have already got Explorer (or the Finder) so that you can work with them like every other file. What the SkyDrive app puts in your PC is a brand new folder, that may be automatically added to the list of favourite folders on the top of the Explorer windows (on Windows Vista, 7 or 8) plus the sync tool which you will find within the notifications area of the taskbar). That is the same way Dropbox works, and Google Drive.
The Windows 8 SkyDrive app is sort of a mobile app with previews and file browsing
This has links to SkyDrive.com in your files and the Manage Settings page where you should buy extra storage (one other 20, 50 or 100GB, by the year, at prices considerably less than Google Drive; another 20GB on SkyDrive is a 3rd of the cost Google is charging and 100GB is $10 cheaper), a link in your files in Explorer and a slightly minimalist Settings dialog. This does not allow you to control bandwidth usage or set individual folders to not sync (Google Drive does permit you to exclude folders from syncing). All you are able to do is check that sync is running, set whether to begin the SkyDrive app when Windows does, unlink your PC from SkyDrive in the event you do not want to sync from now on and enable remote access to files in your PC throughout the SkyDrive site.
There aren’t many settings within the SkyDrive app
Files you create to your PC are automatically synced on your SkyDrive and directly to the other PCs which are syncing along with your SkyDrive account automatically. Files you delete from the SkyDrive folder of any of your synced PCs – or simply move to a different folder – disappear, as you’d expect. It is going to take a number of seconds for changes to seem within the SkyDrive Website, but synced files disappear almost in real time.
SkyDrive and the SkyDrive folder side by side
The SkyDrive folder to your PC isn’t a library, so that you can’t link folders which are in a unique folder structure and feature them synced – no less than officially. With a purpose to force other, arbitrary folders to sync to SkyDrive you should use the MLINK command to create a symbolic link that puts an alias to the opposite folder into your SkyDrive folder. With the intention to sync the folder to SkyDrive but because it is a symbolic link the files won’t get updated immediately, only while you start the SkyDrive application (because it isn’t monitoring the alternative folder directly and the symbolic link doesn’t trigger uploads the way in which a genuine folder does). Otherwise you can keep the files on your SkyDrive folder and include them within the folder structure you mostly use, with symbolic links or, more easily, using libraries.
For example, if in case you have photos or videos or music to your SkyDrive you could include those folders for your photo, video and music libraries so that you see the files within the right place, though you should you should save anything you need to have sync within the folder that’s contained in the SkyDrive folder. Because the common hard disk is way larger than your SkyDrive allowance, that’s a great habit to get into.
OneNote files don’t sync on your SkyDrive folder; instead you get a shortcut that opens them within the OneNote Web app. That is smart; if in case you have the computer version of OneNote the files will already be synced there and also you don’t desire them twice, in case you don’t you should open the net app anyway.
Files and folders that other folks have shared with you don’t sync for your PC either. That’s irritating if most of what you utilize SkyDrive for is collaboration and exchanging files, nevertheless it also protects you from downloading files without realising it – they may refill your harddrive or be a safety risk. There’s always a balance between security and convenience, and it might be nice as a way to select specific files shared with you to be synced. The mobile and Windows 8 apps do will let you see files shared with you, but they’re only downloaded if you happen to click them, not synced automatically.
Any files you have not installed the SkyDrive folder are still accessible from SkyDrive on another PC, so long as your PC is turned on. The list of PCs that experience the SkyDrive app on shows up at the SkyDrive page alongside any other categories of files that you could view; click it to get a listing of libraries, folders and drives as tiles (with favourite folders from Explorer like Desktop and Downloads on the top of the screen). Enter a safety code that gets sent in your cellphone or an alternate email address and you’ll download them, so getting your SkyDrive-associated email address account hacked doesn’t compromise your PC besides. You could fetch files from a computer on another PC or on a Mac, but you cannot get files from a Mac on a computer.
Viewing and editing files on SkyDrive has some advantages over Google Drive and Docs; Office format files (and other formats like WordPerfect, ODF, text and HTML files) open within the Office Web Apps, without changing the file format the style Google Docs does – so in case you sync a file on your SkyDrive you are able to edit it in Office to your PC or Office Web Apps online, and editing it Office Web apps doesn’t convert the file to something you may only edit online, the style Google Docs does. The Office Web Apps won’t have the entire set of Office features, but they’ve a good selection, you spot way more of a fancy document than with Google Docs (and no formatting is lost) – and you’ll share a file and edit it concurrently a colleague. You cannot edit PDF files on SkyDrive, but you may view then in whatever plugin your browser usually displays PDF files (and you’ll edit them in whatever software you’ve gotten in your PC which could edit PDF files while you sync them). You may also view photos which are on SkyDrive (including .RAW files) as a slideshow, and play H.264 and .WMV files which might be on SkyDrive within the browser.
For businesses, the key to recollect about SkyDrive isn’t how convenient it’s to make use of, or how well priced the additional storage options are. It’s that it is a consumer cloud service and there is no security or tracking of who’s uploading a file or where it’s being shared. That is the same for all consumer cloud service, USB drives and anything except a managed enterprise cloud service like SharePoint, Box, Egnyte or a safe document exchange service like IntraLinks and if that’s a problem you should be running Active Directory Rights Management Services or other inforamtion-centric security tools in addition to considering blocking the sync apps for SkyDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox and similar services.
If you do not have those security issues, SkyDrive is easy, convenient and – especially in the event you can claim the additional storage – lots. It isn’t as flexible because the unlimited peer-to-peer sync that Microsoft’s Live Mesh tool offered, but it isn’t as confusing either. It doesn’t have the OCR option of Google Drive, but that’s surprisingly limited – and prefer other Google Docs editing, leaves your file trapped within the cloud in preference to synced back on your computer in the event you want it off line. The remote access for files is terribly useful, assuming you permit your PC on when you find yourself out, and counting the unofficial apps for Android, you will get a SkyDrive app for nearly every platform). The one drawbacks aren’t with the ability to sync files people have shared with you, or conversely, with the ability to exclude folders from syncing.