Microsoft’s SkyDrive (Beta)

Sometime around the start of the year Microsoft started to revamp their SkyDrive file storage in-the-cloud offering.

Microsoft’s cloud storage SkyDrive has been around for some time. I am not sure when they first started making it available but it would be at least three years ago. During that time I have had the occasional play with it.

Over the last six months or so Microsoft have been making some structural and usage changes to SkyDrive.

SkyDrive02You can now download a (beta) plug-in to Windows 7 that puts SkyDrive on your favourites in Windows Explorer. Then you can create folders in the SkyDrive just like you create folders on your hard disk or network server. And, you guessed it, you can drag and drop files into the SkyDrive folders just as you would for normal folders.

So when you create a file in the SkyDrive, or drag files into folders in the SkyDrive, you are effectively putting them in a location on your hard disk as well as copying them up into Microsoft’s secure cloud storage facility. The little green and white tick symbol on the folder icon tells you that the folder is 100% synchronised—which means the files on your computer (or network, or whatever) that are in the SkyDrive have also been duplicated in the cloud-based storage.

The fact that they are also still on your hard disk is important. This means that if you lose your Internet connection, which has been known to happen, you can still work on your files. And you can still add files into SkyDrive folders. But if you add files into the SkyDrive or modify files from the SkyDrive while you are not connected to the Internet then the little green and white tick will go away. This shows that the local copy of the SkyDrive has not been synchronised with the cloud storage.

Then as soon as an Internet connection is available again then SkyDrive will automatically re-synchronise with the cloud storage. This little trick means you can still work on your SkyDrive files even when there is no Internet connection.

But what makes SkyDrive even more interesting is that you can access SkyDrive from Android, iPad, iPhone, Mac, or any computing device that supports a modern browser. This means you can access those files in your SkyDrive from any Android device (be it a smartphone or a tablet PC) or iPad. So, depending on the tools you use, you could work on something from home on your main Windows PC or Mac computer, then update it with other notes or changes using your Android smartphone on the train going to work (using OneNote for Andriod or the web versions of Word or Excel), and then continue to work on it at work using your work PC or a tablet; and all the time you are working on the same file located in the cloud.

Over the coming months I am going to have a ‘play’ with new SkyDrive using Microsoft OneNote on my base Windows 7 PC, my travelling Windows 7 PC notebook, my Android-based mobile phone, and my Android-based Acer tablet computer.

I will let you know how this works out . . . assuming I don’t forget.