Microsoft SkyDrive takes on Dropbox with app for Windows and OS X

By on April 24, 2012, 11:00 AM

Google is expected launch its cloud storage service any time now and Microsoft's competing service SkyDrive received a major overhaul to prepare for battle. Similar to Dropbox, Skydrive now has dedicated apps for Windows and OS X, which integrate right into the OS by creating a folder where users can drag-and-drop files and have them automatically uploaded to their online lockers and synchronized accross devices.

The move essentially combines the product part of Microsoft's consumer cloud strategy (Live Mesh) with the service side (SkyDrive) to offer a simplified cloud storage solution. Not all of Mesh's features have been incorporated into the new client, however, and the amount of storage offered for free to new users has been cut down from 25GB to 7GB, with paid options at $10, $25 and $50 per year for 20GB, 50GB or 100GB.

That's still not a bad deal considering rival services such as Dropbox charge $99 or $199 a year for 50GB or 100GB of storage, respectively. Furthermore, any users that signed up for SkyDrive before April 22 and have uploaded at least one file to the service, can get a free upgrade to 25GB by going to the Manage Storage page at Existing users with at least 4GB uploaded will pick up the 25GB update automatically.

Microsoft also updated its SkyDrive apps for Windows Phone and iOS, and of course, you can still get access to your files anytime from any computer by signing in to using a browser.

Another key feature is the ability to remotely "fetch" files that are outside of the SkyDrive folder on any Windows PC. As long as the computer is on and running SkyDrive, you can browse and access any file on your disk from anywhere (after a two-step authentication process), just like you would if you were sitting in front of that PC.

It's unclear if Microsoft’s Live Mesh service will be shut down as customers transition to SkyDrive and if other features, like the ability to sync Internet Explorer settings, will be ported over to the new client.

You can download the new Skydrive client apps for Windows and OS X here.

User Comments: 6

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Guest said:

It's a downgrade from Dropbox. Sure you get more space but the file size limit is 2GB and it's more complicated to use between friends and work...

Guest said:

So far Amazon S3 has won this war. I've tried all the "free" services, and I'm willing to pay the very small fee to store my files on Amazon's cloud. No limits and only pay for what you use.

treeski treeski said:

Just want to make clear that the paid plans are for *additional* storage. So, it's 27GB total for $10/year, for example.

Oh, also, it is likely that Mesh's sync service will be removed over time. The link to your Mesh synced files on your page has been removed. Now, you have to go to your devices to find your synced data.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

That option to access any file in the computer having skydrive whether it is or it isnt in skydrive folder really creeped me out of this

PinothyJ said:

I dislike services like SkyDrive and Dropbox that work by placing files into a specific folder as opposed to be able to assign what folders you would like to be synchronised.

Luckily, there is an easy solution using what is known as junction link in Windows. A junction works very similar to a shortcut except it acts as if it IS the folder in which it is linking to. For example: let us say you have a folder on your storage drive called Videos (path: 'S:\Videos' and there is a video in this folder called 'HannahTrippingOver.avi' (path: 'S:\Videos\HannahTrippingOver.avi' . If you were to create a shortcut to the folder from the root of your C drive as soon as you double click the shortcut you will be taken straight to 'S:\Videos'. But if you created a junction link to 'S:\Videos' and called it 'Funny Vids' and placed that in your C root, when you would double click it you would still find the aforementioned video just as if you used a shortcut, but this time the path would be different. The path to the video would be 'C:\Funny Vids\HannahTrippingOver.avi'.

It acts as if you copied all of the contents of the target folder into the new location except the two files the above example ('C:\Funny Vids\HannahTrippingOver.avi' and 'S:\Videos\HannahTrippingOver.avi' are exactly the same file and if one was to be moved, renamed, copied, edited and/or deleted than all junctions leading to it would similarly affected. The only problem with Junctions is that you have to be super careful that you do not delete the folder when you simply wish to remove the junction link.

Junctions can be used with SkyDrive so you can backup a folder like your 'My Pictures' without having to move them all into your SkyDrive folder. The following is code for a batch file I made that will allow you to do so with ease if you follow the next few steps. This will even create a batch file called 'removeJunction.bat' that will safely remove the junction without harming your files or folders.

  1. Open Notepad.
  2. Paste the code that is on this pastebin post.
  3. File|Save as...
  4. Navigate to your SkyDrive folder
  5. Where it says 'Save as type' select 'All Files'
  6. Type a logical name for this file followed by '.bat' (for example: 'createJunction.bat'
  7. Click 'Save' and then double click the newly create file to run!

I hope this helps...

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