SkyDrive Boosts Storage

Microsoft’s SkyDrive in many ways has surpassed it’s cloud storage competitors during the past year.  Other then the ridiculous requirement of Microsoft to change the name of their cloud storage service, it has been a great year for SkyDrive. Earlier in May, it hit the 250 million customer mark, which is very impressive.
Things got even better in Microsoft’s cloud this week, when it was announced that anyone who buys a Surface 2 or Surface Pro 2 will get 200GB of SkyDrive storage for two years. That 200GB option has been extended to everyone with a new pricing tier on SkyDrive.


SkyDrive already comes with 7GB of free storage, which is 5GB more then Dropbox. If 7GB is not enough for you,  you can pay a yearly subscription fee to add more storage. Another great advantage for SkyDrive is that it is connected to your Microsoft accounts and comes in various increments.

There is a new option of an extra 200GB for $100 per year. According to Microsoft, that’s enough storage to take a photo, every hour, from the moment someone is born to the day they graduate.

Here’s the new breakdown.

  • 20GB – $10 / year
  • 50GB – $25 / year
  • 100GB – $50 / year
  • 200GB – $100 / year

You can learn more at www.skydrive.com.

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Microsoft’s Cloud Gets Cheaper

Cloud storage is becoming cheaper every day. Does anyone else remember the day when you would pay about 100 bucks for a 10MB disc drive! Things have changed so radically that in many cases, it becomes free. Microsoft announced that it will triple the amount of space on SkyDrive Pro and doubling the capacity of Exchange Online. Microsoft now exceeds free cloud storage from other options on the market.

According to ZDNet, the inbox of users Exchange Online and Office 365 will increase from 25 to 50 GB. The change will be slow, and will reach customers in the coming months. “There is a price increase associated with this change. Fold the mail is part of our promise to add value to our clients for Office 365″ wrote Stephen Brown, marketing manager for the Exchange team.

There are different plans to use cloud services from Microsoft. Customers who are in the Exchange Online Plan 1, Office 365 Small Business, Enterprise E1, G1 Government and Education A1 should be seeing the change in the coming weeks.

The market for cloud storage is constantly changing. Recently, Box announced it will give away 10 GB while Google Apps offers 30 GB between Drive and Gmail. Companies that need a cloud solution have several options. And the more options, the better the solutions.

This is especially good news for organizations like the Borough of West Chester who are customers of Microsoft 365!

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RIP Hotmail – Hello Outlook.com

If you are a Hotmail user read up and get ready for Outlook.com.

Outlook.com will fully replace Hotmail as Microsoft’s webmail service. The company will begin to auto-update accounts, and hopes they will be fully migrated from Hotmail to Outlook.com by this summer.

Microsoft’s move was spurred by surprise growth in the Outlook.com mail service, which has amassed 60 million active users in just six months. Microsoft has also removed the “customer preview” label on the product. I have been using Outlook.com for my personal email since last fall and I for one am glad to see the “customer preview: label gone.

I know the first thing you’re thinking: “Does this mean my Hotmail address will just go away?” No. It just means that when you go to hotmail.com, you will be re-routed to Outlook.com, and when you log in on the Web, you will get the Outlook.com experience. You can keep your @hotmail.com email address forever, but you can also use that account to create multiple new @outlook.com email addresses, too, if you so desire.

But I recommend that you don’t wait for Microsoft to switch your old Hotmail service over to Outlook.com. Do it as soon as you have time. You will not be disappointed. (Switching your account over takes almost no effort: Just log into Hotmail then click Settings at the top right — you will see the option to convert to Outlook.)

If you are a SkyDrive user Outlook.com nicely integrates with this as well.

I believe that Outlook.com can give Gmail a run for its money. It’s a very smart service with a very streamlined design, tasteful social integration and auto organization features such as inbox “sweep” and scheduled cleanup. Because of this last bit, it’s ideal for use either as a main email or as a “spam account,” the kind you provide to online retailers and other data collectors.

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Learning To Use SkyDrive

It’s become incredibly easy and often required to compute while on the road. Our laptops, tablets and smartphones offer many productivity functions. These enhanced mobile devices in addition to the expanding 4G cellular networks is making it easier then ever before to work with our documents and data stored in the cloud.

Between Dropbox, Google Docs, Microsoft SkyDrive, Apple iCloud, and other services, a expanding options of cloud-based storage options are competing to provide you access to your documents, photos, and other data from all your different devices. Although not quite as popular as Dropbox (which has been around for years) or iCloud (which has a big built-in user base), Microsoft’s SkyDrive is poised to make a big splash when Windows 8 officially launches in October. The Windows 8 SkyDrive app is prominently displayed on the Windows Store, and Windows Phone 8 is expected to seamlessly integrate your SkyDrive account with your smartphone.

But you don’t need to wait for Windows 8 to start taking advantage of SkyDrive. This is becuase SkyDrive apps are already available for just about every major computing platform. If an app isn’t available for your operating system of choice, files stored in your SkyDrive folders are still accessible via a Web browser. In this guide, I will show you how to set up SkyDrive on your PC, how to access your SkyDrive account from different devices, and how to use a few tips and tricks to get the most from this free service.

How to get started with SkyDrive
With Windows 8, SkyDrive is installed by default with the OS and is available on the Start screen as soon as you boot up your PC. If you prefer to stay in Desktop mode while using your Windows 8 PC, you’ll need to install the stand-alone SkyDrive application. (Using SkyDrive on any platform that doesn’t run Windows 8 also requires the installation of this stand-alone app.)

To install the SkyDrive application on a desktop PC, simply open the SkyDrive homepage in your browser of choice and click on the Get SkyDrive button. The installation process is pretty simple: If you’re running Windows, you need to click the Download SkyDrive For Windows button and save the file to your system. If you’re running Mac OS X, click on the Mac OS X link in the text at the top of the page and then click on the Download button on the subsequent page.

Once the download is complete, simply double-click on the downloaded file to launch the SkyDrive installer. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the installation; when you’re ready to configure your SkyDrive account, go ahead and launch the program. The first time you launch the SkyDrive app, you’ll be asked to sign in to a Microsoft account. If you don’t have one, you’ll see a link to sign up for free; go ahead and set one up now, since you’ll need it if you ever install Windows 8. Sign into SkyDrive, and a group of folders will be created on your system—any time a file is placed into one of these folders, it will automatically be synced to Microsoft’s servers, provided an active Internet connection is available.

SkyDrive offers users 7GB of storage space for free; you just need to download the app and sign up for a Microsoft account. If you want (or need) more space, Microsoft offers different levels of additional storage for an annual fee. At this writing, 20GB of space is available for $10, 50GB for $25, and 100GB for $50, annually.

If you want to access data stored in your SkyDrive account on your tablet or smartphone, the free SkyDrive app is available for download in almost every platform’s respective app store. SkyDrive is available in the iTunes store for iOS-based devices, in the Google Play Store for Android-based devices, and in the Windows Phone Marketplace for Windows Phones.

Accessing Your SkyDrive

Now that you’ve set up a SkyDrive account, actually using the service is simple. If you’re running Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8, your SkyDrive folder will appear in File Explorer; on Macintosh systems, they’ll appear in the Finder. By default, inside the parent SkyDrive folder, the app creates three more folders—Documents, Pictures, and Public.

Anything placed into these folders will automatically be synched to Microsoft’s servers when a connection to the Internet is available and the SkyDrive app is running (it runs automatically with the OS). When a file is dragged into one of these folders, the SkyDrive icon in the system tray will report the status of the synchronization process and report “SkyDrive – Up to date” when the sync is complete. Once the sync is finished, the files are stored on Microsoft’s servers and will be available to other devices.

Using SkyDrive on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets is equally simple. Once you have the app downloaded and installed, a SkyDrive icon will be available in your list of applications. Open the app, sign in, and your SkyDrive folders will be listed along with some details regarding their content.

If they don’t have a device that has a Skydrive app, they can use a browser to view their SkyDrive storage. Accessing your SkyDrive folders from a Web browser doesn’t require any local files to be installed, which saves you the hassle of setting up the app on a PC over which you don’t have full control. Provided you’re using a modern browser, navigate to http://skydrive.live.com/, sign in, and your SkyDrive folders will be accessible right from the browser window. Keep in mind that you’re not only able to download files from your SkyDrive, but to upload files to it as well. Dragging a file (or files) from a PC into one of the SkyDrive folders in the browser window will automatically upload that file so it will be accessible from your other devices—a great way to quickly save photos and documents from a friend’s or coworker’s PC so you can look them over later at your leisure.

Data storage in the cloud is only going to become more important to all of us as we are expected to “work on the run”. The mobile devices we use are being built with this ability in mind. Becuase of SkyDrive’s easy integration with Windows I believe it’s popularity will only grow. Check it out today.

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Skydrive on Android

If you are regular reader of this fine tech blog you are aware that I have been impressed with what Microsoft has been doing for at least the last year or so. One of their new cloud services, “Skydrive” is now available on Android devices.

If you are not familiar with Skydrive, it’s a cloud storage service from Microsoft.

When the service was in beta stage, Microsoft was offering a cloud storage of 25 GB. Microsoft however has decreased it to 7 GB which is still greater than what is available from Google, Apple & Dropbox. Skydrive does requires you have a live login id.

Here are the official features of the new Skydrive client;

1. Access all of your SkyDrive content including files shared with you.

2. View recently used documents.

3. Choose multiple photos or videos to upload from your phone.

4. Share your files and photos – send a link in email or in another app.

5. Open your SkyDrive files in other Android apps.

6. Manage your files – delete, or create new folders.

Just like the Apple and Microsoft apps, The look of the Android draws elements from the new Windows 8 Metro UI. If you are on Android check it out. You can check out Skydrive at www.skydrive.com.

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SkyDrive Gets a Facelift

Today Microsoft debuted a new theme to it’s excellent “SkyDrive” service. SkyDrive which competes with services like DropBox to store your files in the cloud has been making a lot of positive news recently and this upgrade is more goodness from Microsoft. Microsoft offers 25GB’s of free storage which is more then enough for most of us and it integrates nicely into Office 2013 and Windows 8. Both of these upcoming upgrades are also winning acclaim from many of us in the tech know. If you are looking for good safe and convenient online file storage check out Microsoft’s updated SkyDrive. The new theme for SkyDrive which debuted today is a glimpse into what is around the corner with Windows 8 and Office 2013.

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Danger in the Cloud?

Anyone who regularly reads my blog is aware that when it comes to the cloud services I am all in, for the most part. This past month I actually setup a SkyDrive account and moved my files off the server and onto SkyDrive. I decided to do this as a live “test” of how this type of file storage solution works on a day-to-day basis. Here are a couple of things to be aware of before moving to the cloud for file storage.

Local Caching
All of these cloud file storage providers such as Google, Dropbox and Microsoft cache (or store) copies your files on the local hard drive of your computer (or computers) as well as hosting them in the cloud. So let’s say you have SkyDrive (or any of these services) and all of your files have been moved to their “cloud”. Then you download the provider’s “app” on your home pc, office pc and laptop. That means that all of your files are “cached” at all three locations, plus in “the cloud”. Wow! Could be your first thought. Because of this scenario all of your files are “backed up” in several locations, plus the cloud. This is basically true. Your files are in more locations than ever before and you can feel fairly comfortable that you will have access to them regardless of what disaster may befall any of your computers. However, there is one little problem that could arise from this situation, but we will get to that shortly.

Why do these “Cloud” Storage services locally store copies of your files on your computer?
I believe that there a two basic reasons for this.

One. It is more efficient to work on a file “locally” as compared to a file which is streaming while in use. The application you are using to work on the file such as Word or Excel simply performs better when working on a file locally stored.

Two. If you do not have access to the internet you still may need to work on files. By keeping local copies of your files you are not dependent on internet access. Even cloud service providers are aware of this and until the internet is available 100% of the time, caching files locally is the only solution.

Be aware that this caching situation is only occurring on computers. Tablets and smartphones will stream these files while you are accessing and editing them. The files are not stored on most mobile devices.

Danger in the Cloud?
I would not say danger actually. I just liked the headline and hoped it would keep your attention on this article. However there is one real concern to be aware of and this is why it is important to be mindful of how the cloud storage and caching solution works. Here is what happens when you store and then edit files in the “cloud”.

So let’s say as an example you want to work on an excel file. You (1) open the file on one of your computers and begin working on the file. (2) When you are done working on the file, you “save” it and close the application. Then (3) the cloud provider’s application syncs the file in the cloud so that the file in the cloud is up to date with your latest changes. Finally (4) any other computer that you have the application installed also completes this very same synchronization. This is all being done within seconds and without your involvement. Very cool and normally this is exactly what you want. However here is the danger, and sadly this happened to me today.

This morning I was working on a large excel document using Excel 2013. When my work was completed I saved my file and noticed that immediately Excel was “not responding” and obviously crashed (dwat!). The application eventually restarted on its own. I tried to open my Excel file that I had just worked on and received the horrible message, “corrupt file – cannot open”. My thought was “oh well, at least I have SkyDrive installed on 2 other computers, my laptop and office pc”. I checked those computers and the damaged and corrupted file had already been synced at both locations as well as in the cloud. The corrupted file was all there was for me! Ok, don’t panic because I was able to repair the file but that is a story for another day.

The point here is to be aware that if a file is damaged, moved or deleted this will occur everywhere within moments, usually seconds. That’s the danger you must be aware of when storing your files in the cloud. Because of this situation it is remains necessary to continue having a good sound backup solution in place to protect your most critical data.

I remain a big supporter of cloud based services in most cases. However like anything else, no solution is 100% safe. The best way to protect yourself is through awareness of both the benefits and limitations of any solution you choose to use in your organization and at home.

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