When Microsoft released Skydrive years ago, it was just an add-on service for hotmail users. You could upload and share your files to Skydrive which offered about 25 gigbaytes of storage space. But now Microsoft has started to compete with the likes of DropBox and SpiderOak, and is offering apps for Windows Phone, iPhone in addition to desktop clients for Windows and Mac. The free Skydrive Windows desktop client on your PC integrates with Windows Explorer and makes it easier to put files online and manage them by making drag and drop options available into the SkyDrive folder.
Microsoft SkyDrive is an online file storage service from Microsoft. It now offers free storage space of 7 gigabytes for everyone. You can access and manage your files through your web browser, desktop clients for Windows and Mac, and mobile apps for Windows Phone, iPad and iPhone. Ofcourse, you need a free Windows Live account to create and log in to your SkyDrive account. You can create a free Windows Live account at https://signup.live.com/signup.aspx. If you use Hotmail, Messenger, or Xbox LIVE, you already have a Windows Live account and it can be used for signing in to your SkyDrive account.
You can download SkyDrive desktop client for Windows from the Microsoft website. The download is around 4.7 megabytes in the form of a setup installer. The download is available for Windows Vista and 7 only. After the installation, it would show a wizard to get you started. You have to enter your Windows Live login details (username and password) and then choose a SkyDrive folder on your hard disk. By default, the SkyDrive folder is %UserProfile%SkyDrive. You can also choose if you want to access files on this computer from anywhere else. You can change all these options later.
Microsoft has made it easy to manage your SkyDrive contents by integrating SkyDrive with Windows Explorer. You can open the SkyDrive folder on your computer to access the files in your SkyDrive online storage account. You can use this folder like just any local folder. Anything you copy to this folder would be automatically uploaded to your SkyDrive online account. If you want to delete a folder or file from your SkyDrive online storage, then just delete it from your local SkyDrive folder and the changes would reflect online in a few seconds. All the synchronized items (files and folders) show a green checkmark over their thumbnail or icon.
SkyDrive client for Windows desktop installs an icon in the notification area (system tray). When SkyDrive is synchronizing a file or folder, it shows the progress by animating the icon. You can right-click on this icon and choose various options from the context menu. You can open the Settings for SkyDrive client, open the SkyDrive folder, or manage your SkyDrive storage using a web browser from this right-click menu as shown in the following picture.
In the settings for SkyDrive, you can choose to automatically start the SkyDrive desktop client with Windows or you can choose to make files on this PC available to all other device that are using your SkyDrive account. You can also opt to Unlink your files so that they will not be synchronized with your online SkyDrive storage and you will not be able to fetch files on this computer from any other device.
There is news about Microsoft integrating SkyDrive in upcoming version of Windows – Windows 8. But using the free SkyDrive desktop client, you can integrate SkyDrive with Windows Vista and 7 as well. It allows you to access and synchronize your data across a multitude of devices using apps for Windows PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Windows Phone in addition to the classic web interface. You can download it from http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/skydrive/download-skydrive.