With the rumored launch of Google Drive only somewhere between days and infinity away, the other cloud services (you know, the ones that actually exist) are going into overdrive trying to give us reasons to keep (or in some cases start) using their services. Dropbox (my long-time cloud service of choice), just added additional sharing and viewing options. Microsoft, whose generous 25GB of space has been hindered by Microsoft’s inability to properly market its online offerings and an arbitrary file size limit, followed suit today with some new features and, most importantly, a Mac (that’s right) and Windows desktop app.
I’m determined to consolidate my cloud use into one primary service. Dropbox is clearly an option. SugarSync is too, though I want something less complicated. Box is not, simply because it makes it too hard to move files to and from its cloud. Obviously, if Google Drive actually launches, it will be a contender. In fact, if its space is consolidated and usable across all Google services (including Google Music, which but for the 20,000 song limit, would already be my music service of choice), Google Drive is probably the odds-on favorite, which tells you a lot about the baked-in advantage Google has when it comes to, you know, the internet.
But let’s not count Microsoft out. SkyDrive has a lot to offer. Here’s a real time walk-through of my installation and experimentation with the new SkyDrive.
First, if you already have an account, you need to visit the SkyDrive site and get your “free upgrade,” which preserves your 25GB of space. SkyDrive will soon limit free users to 7GB. It’s easy to do, so do it.
Now, let’s get the desktop app. Without boring you with a bunch of nerd talk, desktop apps are important when it comes to integration with your current file system (i.e., Windows Explorer or Finder) and syncing between computers. I’m installing the Mac app, but I assume the Windows experience is similar.
Once you install the app, you get a Menu Bar item (good) and a Dock icon you can’t remove from the dock (Microsoft needs to fix this, but it’s not the end of the world).
The first time you run the desktop app, you can select the location of your local SkyDrive folder (this works much the same as with Dropbox). I wanted to put my folder on my second hard drive, as opposed to my main SSD that I try (with only some success) to reserve for the OS and other system-related stuff.
Then it’s off to the races. Click on the Menu Bar icon to access your local SkyDrive folder. Looks very Dropbox-ish.
I’m going to drop a jpg in there. Very nice.
Now let’s try a big file and see if that file size thing is still a problem. Doesn’t seem to be.
No right click>get public link feature, like Dropbox. Looks like you have to go to the web interface (accessible via the Menu Bar icon) to do that. Here’s the picture I added a moment ago.
It’s easier with Dropbox, but again, not a huge deal.
Now, I’ll install the app on my laptop and see how syncing works.
Perfectly. The files started downloading as soon as I installed the app.
I am very impressed with SkyDrive. I wish there was an option to buy space in more than 100GB increments. 100GB at $50 seem like a pretty fair deal, but I have lots more than 100GB of data I need to safely store/backup. I will be interested to see the Google Drive space options and price. I expect Google Drive will be at least as cheap, if not cheaper, but for some (me definitely included) Google’s insistence in weaving Google Docs and, especially, Google+ into every offering is a bit of a negative. In other words, the race is on, and there is a dark horse making its move on the outside.
SkyDrive is a well designed service that is clearly in the running to be my preferred cloud service.
Great job Microsoft! It feels good to get to say that again.