SkyDrive Review

SkyDrive is Microsoft’s solution for online data management. With four membership plans, including one that offers 7GB of free cloud space, SkyDrive hopes to attract users of all types – even Mac loyalists. The company launched its SkyDrive for Mac concept in early 2012.

Introduction
Microsoft SkyDrive is a cloud-based file storage service. Windows Live members can upload files, which are stored online and can be edited and shared. All kinds of files can be stored and accessed on SkyDrive, including documents, photos, and videos. New users are given 7GB of storage space for free, and that amount can be increased with membership upgrades as outlined below.

  • 20GB – $10.00year.
  • 50GB – $25.00/year.
  • 100GB – $50.00/year.

All of these prices are figured on a per user basis. If you upgrade from the free membership, you get to keep the 7GB of storage space you started with, in addition to your new space allotment. SkyDrive also offers an “Enterprise” membership with unlimited cloud space. However, they do not openly advertise the price of SkyDrive Enterprise plans. You’ll have to contact a SkyDrive representative – easily done via phone or with a couple of clicks on the SkyDrive site – for more information about the pricing and features of Enterprise membership.

Features of SkyDrive

SkyDrive has undergone continued improvements and additions since its inception in 2007, adding more features along the way. Currently, SkyDrive users can:

  • Store, organize, and edit media files online.
  • Collaborate in real time with multiple users.
  • Set specific document permissions for collaborative projects.
  • Instantly share files on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Download mobile apps for full SkyDrive functionality anywhere.
  • Integrate and upload Microsoft Office files.
  • Track project progress in real time.
  • Email files instantly.
  • Upload and manage larger files, up to 2GB.

When you sign up for SkyDrive (you’ll first need a Windows Live account), you will download the SkyDrive software onto your computer. SkyDrive will install a desktop folder, into which you can drag and drop items to be stored on your SkyDrive account. Anything you put in the folder will then be accessible on any device that you’ve installed the software on. Of course, you can always access your data from any device anywhere by logging into the SkyDrive site.

Pros:

Compatibility With MS Office Programs
If you are an avid user of Microsoft Office, SkyDrive is optimized to work in synchronicity with all programs within the Microsoft Office suite. Other file storage sites, like Google Docs, sometimes have problems converting files created in Microsoft programs. This compatibility adds a streamlining effect that is incredibly valuable whenever time is of the essence.

Desktop Access To Files
With the desktop folder feature, you can access your files from any device on which you’ve installed the SkyDrive software. This is a huge plus if you still want to view your files and work on projects even when no internet is available.

Great Mobile Apps
Unless you’re an Android user, you’ll find a dedicated SkyDrive app you can install on your phone allowing you full access and usability within your account. You’ll be able to do all of the editing and sharing you could do on your desktop or laptop. You can also set your device to automatically upload new photos to your SkyDrive account. No word has come from Microsoft regarding why they have excluded the Android platform. This doesn’t mean you can’t use SkyDrive with your Android device, you’ll just have to go to the regular site using your device’s browser instead of having direct dedicated access via the app.

Secure Backup
SkyDrive backs up user data on secure servers, and maintains multiple copies of all files in multiple locations as a failsafe against data loss. File transfers are encrypted using SSL and users can beef up account security through options within their SkyCloud account.

Cons:

Complaints About Mac Interfacing
On the other side of the MS Office compatibility is the complaints some users have about SkyDrive for Mac. Microsoft only recently began catering to Macs, and while no serious problems have been reported, some users are annoyed by the way the SkyDrive platform interfaces with the Mac operating system. Particularly, they are annoyed with the way they must access the software on their desktop. Their complaints could be addressed in the next version of SkyDrive for Mac by adding a simple drop down menu as an option for fetching cloud files. If Microsoft hopes to lure Mac loyalists into trying its services, it will have to address such details. Feature-wise, SkyDrive has more to offer and allows for more open sharing than iCloud, Apple’s cloud storage solution (iCloud works only with file types created by Apple programs). The devil is in the details, and until SkyDrive can create a smart interface that parallels the intuitive interfaces Mac users are accustomed to, this one small “flaw” could continue to deter Mac users from crossing over.

Not Perfect With All Mobile Platforms
While SkyDrive works well with most platforms, some mobile devices do not allow downloading from SkyDrive for offline use. This includes music files, so no listening to the tunes you have stored in SkyDrive. Make sure to check out the company site for information specific to your device before deciding whether SkyDrive is the cloud storage service for you.

No Password Protected Files
SkyDrive doesn’t offer the option of creating password protected files, which isn’t a big deal for some. However, it’s a nice feature to have available when sharing sensitive or private information on the site. Some of SkyDrive’s main competitors offer password protection of files as an option, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Microsoft add the service in a future upgrade.

Conclusion

SkyDrive is loaded with features and has a smooth interface across multiple platforms. While it might not be the best option (yet) for exclusive Mac users, its hyper-compatibility with Microsoft-created files and the top-notch PC interface makes it a smart choice for PCers as well as those who – like many of us – use both Apple and Microsoft operating systems regularly.

To signup and for further information, visit SkyDrive.

Plans & Pricing
7GB for FREE
20GB for $10.00year
50GB for $25.00/year
100GB for $50.00/year
Top 5 Cloud Storage
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