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A closer look at SkyDrive

Internet services like cloud computing, cloud storage and file synchronization (via the cloud) are increasingly available, which is causing some businesses and individuals to take a serious look.

I have used Microsoft's cloud storage service, called SkyDrive, since it first started. Part of the Windows Live suite, SkyDrive offers a very generous 25GB of completely free on-line storage. Users of the service may create folders and upload files with options to keep things completely private or share with other select users. So what's the downside?

SkyDrive functions via a Web interface; functionality of the interface is the biggest problem. To say it is "inconvenient" is an understatement. Creating folders is easy enough, but uploading multiple files is a tedious process with very limited capability. I sometimes wonder if anyone at Microsoft uses the service and realizes the interface stinks.

The folks at Cloud Storage Explorer must have wondered the same thing and saw it as a business opportunity. They developed an application called SDExplorer that brings drag-and-drop functionality to SkyDrive. They offer a free version with decent features as well as a paid "Pro" version with additional features.

Two things are needed to get started, a SkyDrive account and the SDExplorer application. Visit skydrive.live.com and create a new account (or log in to your existing account). Then create a couple of folders and upload two or three files just to have something there. Then fetch the free version of SDExplorer from cloudstorageexplorer.com and install it. At the end of the installation review "Readme.txt" as it fully details how to use SDExplorer.

I can happily say everything works exactly as stated and the new capability is very welcome. Files are more easily accessed and managed making the SkyDrive service that much better.

Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in company repair and networking by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). He is also a Cisco certified network assistant. Questions may be sent to him via e-mail at ron@ronpoland.com.

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