SkyDrive is a file hosting service from Microsoft that has been around since 2007, albeit in beta. It officially launched to the public in August 2012 and is part of the online software offered by Windows Live (replacing a program called Live Mesh).
SkyDrive is a cloud storage service, much like the popular Dropbox. Users access the service through on their computer or phone via the dedicated program or simply the web browser. From there, files can be uploaded. If desired, these files can then be shared with others via a link and without the need for the recipient to sign up to SkyDrive. If someone with SkyDrive sends you an email attachment then those files will be synced to you via SkyDrive as well. Of course, everything can be stored privately too.
A clever feature that SkyDrive offers is the ability to fetch any file from your computer, even if it isn’t in the SkyDrive folder. As long as the computer is on and has the program installed, you will be able to access all your files just like you would normally. This is a great piece of mind, like in situations where you desperately need to access an important file that you have forgotten to sync.
SkyDrive offers synchronization with Microsoft Office and allows multiple users to work on the same file. The files will be combined when saved and conflicts in changes will be flagged and the user will be able to select which version to keep. Although this type of collaborative editing is not as sophisticated as Google Drive’s, which literally shows other users typing on the document in real time, it’s certainly a useful feature.
One issue that could be raised with SkyDrive is the concern over security. Of course, it’s worth pointing out that this also applies to any cloud storage service. Nothing is ever one hundred percent secure and it is advisable to never put anything you wouldn’t want falling in to the wrong hands online. However, some have also noted that Microsoft do monitor what you store on SkyDrive, with content that violates their Code of Conduct being tracked using automated software and then being removed.
New users to SkyDrive will be given 7 GB of free storage space. You can upgrade to 20 GB for $10, 50 GB for $25 and 100 GB for $50 (all figures per year). This is quite a lot cheaper than Dropbox (where you only get 2 GB on a free account), who offers an additional 50 GB for $99 and 100 GB for $199. The only downside is that SkyDrive has a 2 GB file size limit when uploading through their desktop application, but this is unlikely to be a problem for the majority of users.
SkyDrive is definitely a good step in to the cloud storage market from Microsoft. Their pricing is competitive and service good – especially the ability to sync across all their services, from Hotmail to Office. The size limitations mean that SkyDrive is probably only suitable for small businesses, but it’s something that’s worth looking at if you want a good cloud storage solution.
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