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SkyDrive: How I want to like you, but can’t

SkyDrive, Microsoft’s free online Cloud Storage solution, has made some great strides this past year, going from nearly unusable to, well usable. I have been trying hard to make better use of that 25GB they have granted to my personal account, and the 7GB reserved for my employer (easier than FTP). But each time I try something I am met with a roadblock or unwanted result. We have probably all read horror stories about users being banned after breaking the PG rating (or maybe G) that Microsoft imposes on SkyDrive. For example, if you plan to go to Mardis Gras in New Orleans next year, make sure to turn off that “auto upload to SkyDrive” thingy as there is no way you can take a picture on Bourbon Street that would pass the morally safe meter. Best to take Tahiti off your travel list as well. What about all the other rules, guidelines and restrictions that are buried somewhere in the EULA, or more than likely, not printed anywhere. I have read through the general help section of SkyDrive and vague would be an understatement. Not that surprising though. Microsoft would prefer that you waste two or three hours of your life reading through countless dumb questions and answers on Microsoft Answers, or in some other Microsoft sponsored Knowledge Base, rather than just outline the facts straight out.

My first stumbling block was exceeding the download limit of somewhere between 25 and 30MB, requiring you to login to SkyDrive. I put a variety of videos and Power Point presentations up on my company’s SkyDrive with plans to share links as needed, so others could view and/or download the file. I tried several to make sure it works, and it did. Problem is I didn’t try the 39MB file. After uploading a variety of files I determined that a 26.4MB MP4 would still download without logging in to SkyDrive, but a 32MB MP4 would not. So I am still not sure what the real number is. Microsoft Answers eludes to some mysterious 25MB limit, but I know that’s not correct (based on my test) and the facts are not outlined anywhere in the SkyDrive documentation.

So what is SkyDrive like a bank, where you have to register somewhere if you deposit more than $10,000, or download more than 30MB. While it would be nice, not everyone in the world has an active Microsoft account today. Why this arbitrary number? Ok, maybe it’s so you can’t share full length feature movies on SkyDrive without logging in, of course. But 25MB! That’s barely a sneak preview. And how about the fact that I have uploaded dozens of purchased music tracks, all in the 5 to 8MB range, so I can access them with the SkyMusic app on my phone. Can’t someone download them, without having to login, as long as I share a link. I just don’t get it.


Next up, downloading. There are three different options for sharing a link in SkyDrive; View=View Only, View & Edit=View and edit a (Office) file, and Public=Anyone can only view the file. But , ANYONE AND EVERYONE CAN DOWNLOAD EVERY FILE ON YOU SKYDRIVE REGARDLESS OF THE LINK. Of course, as noted above, if the file is over 26-30MB, they will have to login. Big whoop. But there is no way in SkyDrive to prevent a file from being downloaded. What’s up with that. Did someone get the memo mixed up. Maybe it should be the other way around. By default, a link should, “PREVENT DOWNLOAD” unless you authorize it. Or am I confused again.

Now don’t come back at me with a snarky remark like the guy below regarding photos. Sure, there is always a way for someone to capture, clip or otherwise obtain non-downloadable info, but do we have to make it so easy.

I had a kid working for me 30 years ago that could pick any lock in under three minutes, including our 7 pin high security front door lock. And all with picks and a lever made out of discarded cotter pins. So does that mean we should just forget about using locks. Of course not (but watch out for Hayward – he taught me a thing or two). What about very complex PowerPoint presentations that took dozens of hours to prepare, and include imbedded video, animated GIFs, and other animations. Maybe I only want someone to “view” that file, without downloading and sharing it with our competitors. And did you know there is no way to “edit protect” a PowerPoint file. You either can’t see it, or you have the full keys to the kingdom. But I digress, that’s a rant for another day. Maybe it’s a video that I went through a bunch of effort to edit. Sure, you can watch it. But should you also be able to keep it. OK, I get it. If you don’t want someone to take your hard work and protected stuff, don’t share a link with anyone. So when did SkyDrive become a social media site where sharing is encouraged and required. Maybe that’s why they don’t want phone apps backing up critical data to SkyDrive.

I am sure there are other quirks that I have yet to discover. Or maybe I simply don’t understand Microsoft’s philosophy of how SkyDrive should be used. Is SkyDrive a social site or a vault for your personal stuff?  What say you. Am I just confused, or have you found these issues, that defy simple logic, and others while trying to use SkyDrive.