Cloud drive services are becoming widely popular nowadays with services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and even Amazon Drive. Microsoft has its own version, SkyDrive with many recently improved features for a better cloud experience.
Similar to Google Drive and Gmail, SkyDrive works with a Microsoft account. You can register for the service with any email, or login using an existing MSN or Hotmail account. (On a side note, Microsoft has also revamped its email service Outlook which you can also use as a login.) SkyDrive starts you out with 7GB of free storage but you can get more with pricing plans costing up to US$50 a year.
In this post, we’ll be looking at some of the features of the revamped SkyDrive and sharing with you 8 tips to enhance your experience with SkyDrive.
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1. Edit Skydrive File/Folder Sharing Permissions
SkyDrive offers sharing just like other cloud storage services. However, when generating a link to share files via SkyDrive, you have the option to control whether the files has "View only", "View and edit" or "Public" access.
This also applies for sharing by email or on a social network website. If you would like to monitor who has been editing the file you shared, you can also set the option that requires users to login first.
The details pane on the right is a quick way to see who has access to a shared file or folder and what permissions they are given. Take advantage of this by disabling sharing or changing permissions in just one click.
2. Enable Commenting on Shared Files
While traditional file-sharing services give you only a link for the other person to download, on SkyDrive you can allow users with access to your shared files to comment on them. Users who comment on your files will have their Microsoft profile picture displayed alongside their comments (ala Facebook style) and by changing a few privacy settings, you can choose to allow commenting to just some or all your Messenger friends, and their friends, or even Everyone.
Setting up Commenting
Go to SkyDrive.com and click on your Profile name on the top right corner, then click on Edit profile.
Then, click on the link at "Shared with:" ("Some Messenger friends" is the default option) to edit the privacy settings to your needs.
You’ll now be able to change the privacy settings on who can comment on your shared files. By sliding the ‘Comments’ bar all the way to the right, everyone on a Microsoft account who has access to the file will be able to leave a comment.
3. Make SkyDrive your PC’s “Primary” Drive
This is a trick for people who use Windows Libraries as you can use SkyDrive to sync all your files which will be available to you where you go. Here’s how you set it up:
Create the following folders in SkyDrive. Name these folders "Documents", "Music", "Pictures" and "Videos" respectively.
Under "Libraries", right click on "Documents" and click on "Properties".
In the Properties window, click on Include a folder. Then navigate to where the SkyDrive folder is and then click on Include folder.
You’ll now see the SkyDrive folder under ‘Library Locations’. To change your primary drive, click on the SkyDrive folder location and then click on Set save location.
Repeat the steps for "Music", "Pictures" and "Videos" after "Documents".
After you’ve setup the remaining 3 libraries, run the SkyDrive program and the results will look something like the image below.
4. Access Every File On Your PC Remotely
One interesting feature (depending on how you look at it) for SkyDrive is that you can remotely access files that are in your PC even if it is not in the SkyDrive folder. Let’s say you left an important work document at home, no problem, just access your computer via SkyDrive and look for the file in your home PC from work. The catch is, your PC has to be running and have Internet access as well as the SkyDrive program on. Good news is this also works even with the computer locked.
As for security issues, you do not have to worry as files on your computer cannot be edited or deleted in this way, and you can only transfer files from your computer to your SkyDrive folder, not the other way around. Basically, you can extract files from your PC via SkyDrive.
5. View or Edit Files Simultaneously
Editing documents simultaneously might not be a very new feature as it is also available on Google Drive. However, with SkyDrive you’ll be able to do that with an online version of Microsoft Office products which includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote.
Any changes made to a document will be sync’ed online. Small popups will appear that notify you that a change has been made, either by you or a collaborator. You then hit ‘Save’ to view the edited section, highlighted with the other person’s name.
These Microsoft Office Web Apps give you all the basic functionalities their desktop programs could provide. You can even present slideshows on PowerPoint through the Web App.
What’s great is after editing, your file will be updated and the Microsoft Office file will be ready for immediate download or sharing.
6. Automatically Sync Notes to SkyDrive
You can add notes to SkyDrive while on your smartphone or tablet with the Microsoft OneNote Mobile app, available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Login with a Microsoft account to start using the app. The interface looks clean and organized, as you can see in the shots below: iOS, Android, and Windows Phone on the right.
You can create to-do lists complete with checkboxes or add pictures to your notes. If you want to email the note, it is created in a text format (with pictures and lists included) instead of a OneNote format.
The app syncs all your created notes with your SkyDrive account automatically which is very convenient as you can then access and edit them on your computer. There is also the option to sync only selected notes to your SkyDrive account.
7. Integrate SkyDrive with Gmail
By installing Attachments.me as a Google Chrome Extension or Firefox Add-on, you are able to attach any file on SkyDrive to your Gmail account.
By clicking on ‘Share from SkyDrive’, you can look through all the files on your SkyDrive. Once you have selected the file you want, it will create a link that you can share to your email recipients.
Note that the files that you share through Attachments.me can only be viewed and not edited, ensuring your original document will remain in SkyDrive.
8. Avoid Mistakes with Recycle Bin and Version History
If you happen to accidentally delete any file from your mobile device or desktop, SkyDrive will still have it in an online recycle bin, found at the bottom left corner of the site.
SkyDrive automatically keeps 25 changes made to your document files and with Version History you’ll be able to restore to any of these the previous versions, where necessary. If you’re a chronic saver, no worries as it will only update "Version History" after a successful sync.
Items in the recycle bin will be automatically removed after 30 days, but if the recycle bin exceeds 10% of your total storage limit, the oldest item will be deleted after it has been there for 3 days.
Features offered by SkyDrive can be said to be combined features of two or more cloud storage services. Overall, it has improved user experience through its revamped website which is why you should give it a try.