How do I get started with Microsoft SkyDrive?
I'm eager to learn more about cloud storage and hook up Microsoft's SkyDrive service with my Windows 8 laptop so I have an easy way to back content up to the Internet. Not sure how to get started, however, so I'm hoping you can step me through the process, Dave? How do I sign up and get started backing up and sharing documents with SkyDrive?
I'm a big fan of cloud-based storage and document sharing tools, and actively use services like iCloud and Dropbox to share even video files, which are pretty darn big as you proceed with edits and production. I also use cloud-based backup tools, notably CrashPlan, which ensures that even if I lose my laptop or spill a soda on the keyboard, I still have a copy of each and every file, document, video and photograph. Very handy.
Entering the cloud storage space, Microsoft introduced SkyDrive, which is really another of the same, another service where you get X megabyte or gigabytes of free storage and can use it either to back up your files, share your files across multiple devices (work computer, home tablet) or even share files with other users (simply drop the file or files into the "Public" folder, as you'll see). Nicely, it's woven into the heart of Windows 8, so if that's what you're running, it's already a tile right there on the Start screen.
In fact, let's start there...
Click on the "SkyDrive" tile from your start screen. Easy enough. Now it'll ask you to log in to your Microsoft Account:
Hopefully you remember your password and don't go through what I did...
If you are having problems logging in, check out my earlier article Recovering your Microsoft Account Password. Once you're done, you can finally log in and get started.
Here's where I found SkyDrive really confusing, because there's not much explanation of what you can do and how you do it. That screen offers a nice little graphic, and shows that by default I have three folder set up, Documents, Pictures and Public, but how do I use SkyDrive?
Well, next stop is the SkyDrive page itself, which shows just those three folders and a whole lotta white space:
It took a bit of exploration to find out that you need to right-click somewhere on the page so that the control buttons appear along the bottom, as you can see here:
(image slightly tweaked so it'd fit on the page)
The most important button here is "Upload". Click on it to get started and push a document, photograph, or file up into your newly set up SkyDrive account.
You'll now see a completely different file selection process, one that's way different to anything I've ever seen before in Windows. It's pretty, but it definitely takes a bit of getting used to. Pay close attention to "Go up" as that's probably the link you'll use the most as you poke around:
I've maneuvered into my Documents folder above and there's an audio recording of a conversation I had with my friend Jerry. 41.5MB. That's a good thing to be able to start with, so I'll click once on the file information (why there's no associated icon is confusing) to select it.
Now way on the lower right corner of the screen is a button "Add to SkyDrive":
A single click on that and the file's on its way up the Internet wire to their cloud server.
Confusingly, though, SkyDrive drops you back onto the empty white screen shown earlier, and all three folders (Documents, Photos and Public) still show "0". What the heck? Where'd the file go?
Turns out that there's a small text link on the top right (you really have to keep looking around to work with SkyDrive, apparently) that explains what's going on:
Click on it and details emerge:
Here's what's even more confusing -- when it finally uploaded, it didn't end up in any of my three folders:
So exactly where is this audio file now? On SkyDrive, yes, but not in any of the folders. Bah! To fix that, click once on the file's icon, then right click to bring up the menu bar icons along the bottom of the screen, then choose "Move" and specify where you want it to go.
That's the basics of getting started with SkyDrive. I found the implementation rather startlingly confusing. There are many easier ways to work with cloud storage services. See DropBox, for example. But as with many things Microsoft, I expect this will get better, and in a hurry, as Windows 8 gets its first service pack update in the next few months.
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