SkyDrive Review: Cloud Storage
|Includes large amount of online syncing space for very low price, but not the best for full computer backup|
SkyDrive is Microsoft's answer to cloud storage. Similar to the Dropbox model of single-folder online syncing, SkyDrive ups the ante by adding more storage space and cool features like remote computer access. We liked the price, the 7 GB of free storage and the online interface; however, we would not recommend this service to anyone who needs a backup solution for their entire computer, not to mention some of the frustrating glitches we ran into. While other cloud storage services can double as your full online backup solution, it would be difficult and inefficient to restore your entire computer in the case of a crash or theft if you were solely using SkyDrive.
After signing up for a Windows Live account, installing SkyDrive on your PC is quick and easy. Note that if you have a Hotmail username and password, you can use that to sign into Windows Live. Once you enter the SkyDrive online interface, just click "add a computer" under the computers tab. After you install the program, you can access the SkyDrive folder through the icon in the bottom right hand toolbar of your desktop. Installing SkyDrive on your Mac is also simple. After installation, you can find the SkyDrive folder in your finder or access it through the SkyDrive icon in the top navigation bar of your screen.
Though installation was easy, we ran into some problems when trying to install the program on a second computer. First, the "add a computer" button was missing from the online interface. This seemed to be a minor problem because we were able to access the download link by going to the download page for Windows and Mac. However, the real problem is that after you do download and use the program on the other computers, these computer names do not show up in your online SkyDrive account. Instead, all of the files show up listed together. This could get a little frustrating because users will not be able to search for files based on their origin computers.
Like Dropbox and Google Drive, all you need to do to sync a folder or file across your devices and the web is just drag and drop the file into the SkyDrive folder. As long as your other computers have SkyDrive installed, the file will show up on each of them immediately. As we mentioned earlier, we did not like that all of our synced files were grouped together without the possibility of viewing them by computer name. This is one of the reasons why SkyDrive would not be a good solution for those seeking to fully backup their computers online. If your computer crashes and you need to restore all of your files, it would take a very long time to select each file and folder, especially because they are not organized by device.
One thing that makes SkyDrive stand out is their "fetch files" feature for PCs. Once you go into the SkyDrive settings and turn on this feature, you can access the entire computer remotely from other devices and online. Note that you have to make sure that the computer is on and connected to the Internet for this to work and unfortunately, there is no such feature for Macs. The comprehensive sharing features were to our liking as well. You can send the file or folder in an email, share it on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, or get a direct link to the file. You can give editing permissions also, and even require users to sign into SkyDrive before accessing the folder or file. Another perk of the service is its native support for Microsoft Office programs. You can create Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote files straight from SkyDrive's online interface.
The most appealing part of SkyDrive is its price. When you first sign up you get 7 GB of storage free; however, it gives you the chance to immediately upgrade to 25 GB, also free. You can add 20 GB more, totaling 45 GB, for $10 per year. For a total of 75 GB the cost is $25 per year and for a total of 125 GB you pay $50 per year.
SkyDrive's low prices are perfect for people that want to focus mainly on syncing and accessing their files across their devices and on the web. We also appreciated their "fetch" feature, which can be a convenient tool if you forgot to drop something in your SkyDrive folder for later use. Unlike other cloud storage providers, however, we would not recommend this service to double as users' online backup solution. It is a great service for on-the-go files access, but if you run into a computer catastrophe like a crash or theft, you may find yourself unready to restore your system if SkyDrive is your one-stop shop.
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SkyDrive Forum Posts
- SkyDrive Review
Here is NextAdvisor's review of SkyDrive: http://www.nextadvisor.com/cloud_storag ... review.php