Hello OneDrive Goodbye SkyDrive

Tips for keeping Microsoft’s Cloud storage from becoming a disaster

By Stephen Pate – If you use more than one computing device, like a desktop and a tablet, Microsoft’s cloud service for consumers and professionals is pretty cool.

You can create a document, photograph or video on one device and it will head to the SkyDrive cloud and then be sharable with all your other devices. Take a picture on a Windows Phone and it is going to be on your computer at home.

Files on a computer, laptop, tablet and phone can be shared through the OneDrive cloud

It used to be called SkyDrive but the name is changing very soon to OneDrive due to a trademark conflict in Europe. Like many things in Windows 8, they didn’t cover all the bases with SkyDrive so they had to change the name.

Since SkyDrive was first released, Microsoft has fine tuned it so you only need to keep a thumbnail version of the file on each device. The complete file is in the cloud.

While SkyDrive is pretty cool, we all need to learn the finer points of how it works to avoid catastrophes. I put a 15 minute video at the end that is worth watching for everyone.

1. Download the SkyDrive app

SkyDrive is embedded in Windows 8 but the OneDrive app gives you extra tools.  For now that is SkyDrive but it will update soon.

The App lets you connect and disconnect drives and sub-directories from the SkyDrive cloud, view the OCR of pictures taken on your camera, manage files easily, diagnose and fix file errors.

2. SkyDrive is not a backup

You should have a separate backup of your important files, photos and videos and OneDrive is not the place to do that.  OneDrive is not responsible for the files and if they get lost or deleted Microsoft won’t take any blame. Things do go wrong because we are dealing with computers so plan for the worst. There are articles on backup. My personal favorite is our Windows Home Server, which Microsoft does not sell anymore.

3. Deleting a File from OneDrive is final

Say you decide to delete a file from your laptop which is stored on OneDrive. Well, it’s gone from the cloud as well, almost. If you open the  OneDrive App you may find the file in the Recycle bin.

I deleted a complete directory of photos one time by mistake and found them using the SkyDrive app. However, there are people regularly crying the blues on Microsoft Community about losing their files.

4. Save Space with Offline Storage There are two SkyDrive file storage options – online and offline storage. Online storage keeps the whole file in the cloud and a thumbnail on your computer. That’s the preferred storage for smartphones and tablets.

Offline storage keeps a duplicate copy of the complete file on your computer. When you are working on large files on a regular basis you should keep them offline. Editing a large photograph or video with online storage will be painfully slow.

5. Only store files in SkyDrive you will need away

Speed and cost are the issues. Microsoft charges for SkyDrive storage annually. I’m sure they want us to over-use it so we end up paying big annual fees.  SkyDrive is like a drug. A little is enough.

When SkyDrive first came out, I put all my working files on it. Then I noticed it was slowing me down so pulled them off the cloud and keep them local.

6. Long file names will not sync

If you get file sync errors, browse the sync directories on SkyDrive with Explorer looking for very long file names and rename them. SkyDrive will not sync long file names. This can happen if you are saving webpages as complete files, for instance.

7, Locked files will not sync to Windows Phone

If you password protect files, like I do sometimes, they will not sync to your mobile phone. This restriction used to apply to all SkyDrive clients but was fixed last year. There is some hope Microsoft will allow locked files to be opened on SkyDrive but not for now.

Follow me on Twitter at @sdpate or on Facebook at NJN Network and OyeTimes.

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network

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