I haven’t been very keen to embrace the “cloud”, but in the last few days I’ve witnessed how simple and useful it can be.
Two days ago I downloaded Microsoft’s new Skydrive app to both my laptop and my home desktop computer. By allowing me to seamlessly synchronize data, this app extends the capacity and usefulness of Skydrive, and elevates my Hotmail account (which created my online Skydrive last year) beyond a mere dead email repository.
I installed the program in both computers, which in turn created a local Skydrive folder in each User profile.
Skydrive allows you to sync up to 7 gb of data for free, so the three work folders that I selected on my laptop (i.e. document folders for the three courses that I teach) had to be shorn of extremely large media files. That’s fine, since I rarely update these type of files, and Skydrive doesn’t upload any single file over 2 gb anyway.
I then moved the three work folders into the laptop’s Skydrive folder, and created three shortcuts to the desktop. The three folders are therefore back on the desktop, where they’ve always been, but now as shortcuts. At this time, automatic syncing only occurs for folders and files within the Skydrive folder, but with shortcuts nothing has effectively changed.
Skydrive started working automatically, by the way, and synced the folders to my online Skydrive account; the initial sync took about 30 minutes for about 5 gb of data. No longer do I have to manually upload files to Skydrive!
Later, from my home computer, I went to my online Skydrive account and downloaded the three folders to my home Skydrive folder, and made the shortcuts to the desktop (like on my laptop).
Now I can work on my home computer and save documents to the Skydrive work folders. That work will be saved automatically to my online Skydrive account, and synced to my laptop. And vice versa.
This is a good option for anyone who wants to have an automatic backup of key documents and photos, and a great option for someone who – like me – likes to create content on a powerful desktop computer (with multiple monitors) but use that content on his or her laptop.
I’m still working “locally”, but now I can work on either computer as if they are linked, and not have to worry about backing up or manually transferring files.
Give it a try. It’s free, and so far it’s been fast, intuitive and effortless. There might be something to this cloud, after all.
UPDATE: I recently purchased an extra 20gb of sync storage for $10 per year. That’s right… per year. I looked around to the other storage solutions, including Dropbox, and Microsoft’s prices are definitely the most value for the money.