Backup and Sync with SkyDrive

Category: Cloud

The latest version of Microsoft SkyDrive gives other cloud storage services a run for their money. SkyDrive offers the most free storage space of any major service, and has some compelling features. Here's what you need to know to get started with SkyDrive...

Free Online Storage for PC, Mac and Mobile Users

Looking for a way to keep files in sync between multiple desktops, laptops or mobile devices? SkyDrive offers 7 GB of free online storage for the task, and lets you edit synced files online with Office Web Apps or your local copy of Office. It can even be used as a lightweight backup solution.

Here’s how to get and use SkyDrive. First, download the SkyDrive app for your device; versions are available for Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista, but not for Windows XP. SkyDrive also runs on Mac OS X, iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone, and Android mobile devices. The installer runs without any user input. (Windows XP users can download SDExplorer, which provides access to SkyDrive files, but lacks the sync feature.)

After the SkyDrive app is installed, you will be prompted to log in with your Windows Live ID. If you don’t have one, there’s an option to create one. Once you are logged in, a SkyDrive folder will be created on your device. Every file placed in that folder will be automatically uploaded to your SkyDrive account in the cloud.
SkyDrive Cloud Storage

Install SkyDrive on any other devices you may own, using the same Windows Live ID. Now you can access all of your devices’ SkyDrive files from whichever device you happen to be using. Changes made to a file on one device will be replicated on all devices.

This is a very handy feature, because it eliminates the need to manually copy files from a local folder to your cloud storage service. And vice versa. Your SkyDrive folder acts like any other folder on your computer. You can open and save files directly from any standard Windows file dialog.

Here's Why Cloud Storage with File Sync is Cool

If you regularly work on more than one computer, or you have some combination of desktops, laptops and mobile devices, you can always be assured that the files you've stashed in your SkyDrive storage will be available on every device.

So you could start your morning by opening a spreadsheet on your office desktop. Make a few changes, save your work and later head to the coffee shop for a mid-morning meetup. A few taps on your iPad opens the same spreadsheet, which of course contains the changes you made at the office. Do some additional work on the spreadsheet, file/save and you're on with your day. That evening, you remember one critical thing that must be updated before morning. Fire up the laptop, open your spreadsheet, make the change, and it's updated everywhere else automatically.

What if you forgot to place an important file in your computer’s SkyDrive folder before leaving home? SkyDrive allows you to “fetch” such an unsynced file from any device that has the SkyDrive app installed with your Windows Live ID. There’s an extra authentication step for this remote-access feature: a security code will be sent by to a designated email address, or via SMS to your phone. You will have to enter this code to access the remote device.

Okay, but what if you're using a public computer in the hotel kiosk? It won't have the SkyDrive app installed. Never fear, your online SkyDrive account can also be accessed via a Web browser. You can view, move, rename, and delete files. The changes will be replicated across all of the devices associated with your SkyDrive account. Also, you can use Microsoft Office Web Apps to edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files stored on SkyDrive -- all without leaving your web browser.

SkyDrive excels at syncing files across devices, so they're always available when you need them. But it can also be used for backup purposes. It wouldn't be practical for backing up your entire hard drive, but you can copy anything you like (up to 7GB for free) to the SkyDrive folder, for safe keeping in the cloud. If you need additional SkyDrive storage space, you can purchase an additional 100 GB for $50 per year.

Have you tried SkyDrive? Tell me how you like it, or if you prefer some other cloud storage service. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Backup and Sync with SkyDrive"

Posted by:

jimmy G
10 Sep 2012

I use SkyDrive all the time. It is my #1 favorite cloud storage program. I have 25gb for each of my hotmail accounts and 7 GB for each of my new Outlook accounts with a total of 128gbs. I only use the app for one main account (25gb) and use that one for the files that I need on other devices. It blows away dropboxs measly 2gb and its totally free. If you need more storage just make another email and you get 7gb more. I also encrypt my private files with Duplicati before putting them in the folder, but u can use axcrypt or something similar for single file encryption.

Posted by:

10 Sep 2012

Two details: I use Dropbox now and no one considers me a techie or geek. Isn't this new Sky thing a fancy rival to Dropbox that surely can do more tricks but maybe we who just get-along with computers can forgetaboutit? Well, until I can tap on it, load one It's-Me ID and it loads itself wherever I have a computer, some day in the future when the Star Trek computers finally arrive? :}

Posted by:

Richard Ghent
10 Sep 2012

I've been using SkyDrive for a couple months now and I like the way it interacts with all of my downloads by popping up to offer to save them there. Also, I find 7G storage is great for storing my non-work stuff (I use Dropbox for my business files to keep them separate). Syncing was also very easy, and I'm just an average computer buff!

Posted by:

Merrill Guice
10 Sep 2012

After the recent change in terms and conditions allowing Microsoft full access to any files I should upload, I have deleted my files. The new T&C also allows them to hold your entire Microsoft Live account hostage if their robot thinks it sees something not kosher in your sky drive. I don't care to loose all access due to a false positive.

Posted by:

SmBus IT Expert
10 Sep 2012

Asolutely love SkyDrive. Note that Microsoft is completely secure. First, connections are SSL, secondly they use Microsoft Enterprise tools for security. Forefront, I think; just checking with Microsoft. Microsoft routinely validates all cloud services to comply with US Government security specs. Sure can't say that about Dropbox or Google.

The synch feature is fabulous & so much better than carrying a large USB stick or portable hard drive.

Office Web Apps means I can review and comment or update any document without my secure documents ever leaving the cloud.

Posted by:

10 Sep 2012

I'm curious what app you're using to edit the spreadsheet with on the iPad. MS doesn't offer Excel for the iPad. I have DocsToGo, but it doesn't offer SkyDrive as an online option. It does offer the Google drive and Dropbox.



Posted by:

Stuart Berg
10 Sep 2012

For my Windows XP PC I use the free version of SDExplorer. It can sync with Skydrive as well as other cloud storage systems. It has many of the features of Skydrive, but only the paid version has all the features. You can get SDExplorer here:

Posted by:

10 Sep 2012

Bob, I enjoyed your comment that you can copy anything to the SkyDrive folder, "for safe keeping in the cloud". I filed it with those other delightful oxymorons: "constructive criticism", "military intelligence" and "a little pregnant"!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Here's my standard reply on the cloud security issue: I'd argue that data stored in the cloud is MUCH safer than files stored on a local hard drive. Do you use 256-bit encryption for your sensitive files at home? How about strong physical security that includes gated perimeter access, 24x7 on-site security guards, and security cameras? Do you have a fire detection and suppression system, backup power, and a disaster recovery plan in the event of hurricane, flood or earthquake? You can bet your cloud storage provider has all that and more in place to safeguard your data.

Posted by:

Alex K.
10 Sep 2012

Will SkyDrive work with Android based Amazon Kindle Fire?

Posted by:

Jim Kniskern
10 Sep 2012

Every other month I teach a Beginners Class in computing at the Newark (DE) Senior Center. I always provide an informative five-page handout complete with many online links. But the links are not active on a printed sheet. So now I put a digital handout in the cloud via my Microsoft Skydrive, making it available to them quite easily through a link on our NSC web site ( Yes, they could be given USB flash drives with the digital version on them, but with simple brief steps this involves them in the latest trends in computing technology.

Posted by:

Tom S.
10 Sep 2012

I installed it on my pc and it started putting some things into the 'SkyDrive' folder for no apparent reason, things that I have absolutely no need to back up. For the life of me I have no idea why this program selected these files, none what so ever!

Posted by:

11 Sep 2012

What is the best way to encrypt the files?

Posted by:

11 Sep 2012

I use SkyDrive at home and find it very good. I cannot use it at my office, however, as I only have XP installed (although the two other computers in the office have Windows 7).
We use Dropbox, which is great for all OS. I have folders set up so that all my office files are available wherever I am.

Posted by:

Samikkannu A V
11 Sep 2012

dear sir, you are cent percent right as i do have personal experience with the MS SkyDrive.

Posted by:

12 Sep 2012

This past Monday, I got an email from IDrive, they just boosted my free storage from 5GB to 10GB.

Posted by:

12 Sep 2012

I haven't looked at SkyDrive for a while, but I could not find a way to back up folders, just individual files. Is folder backup allowed in the current version?

Posted by:

16 Sep 2012

I downloaded and installed the program from your link for skydrive and it installed "justcloud" that only offers 15mb of space. Did I go to the wrong website?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Apparently so. SkyDrive offers 7GB, and is not associated with that service.

Posted by:

Ashok Gupta
18 Sep 2012

The only grouse I have with Skydrive is that it doesn't work from behind an authenticated proxy server.

Posted by:

28 Sep 2012

Thanks, Bob. Based on your terrific write-up, I am trying SkyDrive because I'm tired of updating multiple units for my Outlook.

Thought I could be clever, and move the Office Data File (.pst)to the SkyDrive folder, but it won't open. It there a trick to use Microsoft Outlook in SkyDrive?

Many thanks for all your great tips, and am a loooong time subscriber.

Posted by:

07 Oct 2012

I have heard that Microsoft has shut down some SkyDrive accounts and Windows Live Accounts because they felt they were being compromised. All my files are on SkyDrive and not on my hard drive. What should I do, since reinstalling - downloading to my hard drive would take a long time.

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