SkyDrive Full Review
SkyDrive is aggressively marketing itself as Dropbox’s strongest competitor and is fighting Apple’s iCloud and Google Drive for a spot at the top. It even has several pages where it compares itself against the three services. However, rather than being reeled in by marketing messages and self-praise, you need to know your facts. So, read on to find out why and how SkyDrive is worth your consideration.
A Quick Overview of SkyDrive
With different IT moguls hurrying up to establish their names in the cloud, it was almost impossible to not see Microsoft jumping on the same trend. However, despite being launched in 2007, SkyDrive didn’t receive the attention it should have until the release of Windows 8 and Office 2013. Now, it’s under the limelight and used by over 250 million users worldwide.
As long as you have a Hotmail, Live or MSN ID – which you probably have if you started using the internet when it started out – you can avail the services of SkyDrive. However, if you don’t have an account, you can easily sign up for one. Once signed in, select SkyDrive and download the app. It will integrate itself with your drive just like Dropbox. This explains why Microsoft is so adamant on highlighting Dropbox as its main competitor.
What SkyDrive Has to Offer
To ensure that you have a clear picture of SkyDrive and what it has to offer, take a look at the features Microsoft has added to its cloud storage solution.
- Office Web Apps – One of the features that add to the strength of the software is Office Web Apps. With these, users can upload, create, edit and share MS Office documents through their browsers. The apps also support collaboration, which is why multiple users can simultaneously work on one file. To further add value to this feature, Microsoft’s SkyDrive allows you to check the version history of whatever Office documents you have stored.
- Collaborative Real -Time Editing – Desktop MS Office users can simultaneously edit sections of SkyDrive documents and changes will be implemented when users save the document. In case a conflict occurs, the saving user will be given a choice of which version to keep.
- Support for Multiple Formats – Aside from supporting Microsoft Office documents, this cloud storage option allows you to view PDF, ODF and XML-based file formats.
- Document Embedding – If you’re interested in sharing your files through a web page, you can do so by embedding them on the site. People will interact with your documents, be they PowerPoint slideshows or Excel spreadsheets.
- Recycle Bin – This is one of the valuable features of SkyDrive. With it, you can undo deletes or restore your files as long as you do so between 3-30 days. The storage of your recycle bin won’t be counted against your storage limit. However, once your Recycle Bin exceeds 10% of your storage limit, the platform will start deleting some of your oldest files.
Pros of this Cloud Storage Solution
There may be little truth to Microsoft’s claims of superiority, especially due to the following pros.
- Multi-platform Support – SkyDrive works effectively on Windows and Mac alike. You can even download an app for your iPhone, iPad, Android device and Windows phone. Even if you don’t have any of these, you can simply direct your desktop or mobile browser to access the service online.
- Seamless Action – Aside from allowing you to collaborate on different files, this service supports MS Office across PC, Mac and the web.
- App Integration – There are numerous apps that you can choose and add to your storage space to boost your efficiency. Some examples include the diagram-drawing app Idea Sketch and Outlook connection tool Xobni.
- Easy File Sharing – You can share your files via e-mail, website, social media, and even SkyDrive. Simply provide a link to these or embed the files.
- Large Free Storage Capacity – Though Google Drive wins this round with 15 GB of free storage, SkyDrive offers a handsome capacity of 7GB, which is much more than iCloud and Dropbox.
- Inexpensive Storage – If the 7 GB free storage is ever insufficient, you can add 20 GB for just $10, which is a steal considering that Apple charges $40 for the same additional amount.
The Cons of the Service
As impressive as SkyDrive may seem, it does have a few issues that Microsoft should address to become the top cloud storage provider.
- The Need for Microsoft’s Full Suite – In order to have the service run smoothly, you will need more than MS Office. You are encouraged to get the full suite of MS server products.
- Lack of Admin Tools – File security doesn’t seem to be a priority for this service, which is why there isn’t a single mention of document permission features or password protection for files.
- Lack of Business-friendly Features – There aren’t any business-friendly features, marking SkyDrive as more of a personal and consumer-use tool.
The Bottom Line
With the light shining brightly on SkyDrive, Microsoft is working hard on ensuring that its service improves and grows in popularity. It already announced a new optical character recognition feature to make searching easier in September and plans on providing more support to Nokia Lumia phone holders. However, until more privacy and security are ensured, it will be best for you to use this cloud storage option for personal, non-sensitive data.
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