Matt Farrington-Smith
02/08/2011 14:56 | By Matt Farrington-Smith, editor, MSN Tech & Gadgets

Guide to Windows Live SkyDrive

Store up to 25GB of photos, music and documents online for free.

Free 25GB online storage with SkyDrive from Windows Live.

What is it?

You can use SkyDrive storage to back up your files online for free, or to share large files with others.

What do I get?

With SkyDrive you can benefit from all of the following:

25GB free online storage

Windows Live SkyDrive offers 25GB of free online storage. Your stuff is stored in the cloud which means you can access it from any web-enabled PC.

It's your space so you can do with it as you please - use it to back up your photographs or documents, copy your entire music collection so it's always available or share your uploads with friends, family and colleagues.

Create, edit and save Office documents in your browser.

Create, edit and save Office documents in your browser.

Office Web Apps

SkyDrive also gives you access to free Office Web Apps like Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint.

They're called 'Web Apps' for good reason - they run in a web browser, and whatever you create is stored online in a special SkyDrive folder. So the files can be opened or edited anywhere there's an internet connection available, by you or your friends and workmates. No installation required.

You can work on Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint documents via SkyDrive, and then share them with Hotmail. Your contacts will get an email that lets them access the documents on SkyDrive where they can then edit and save. A new feature that's just been launched for the Word Web App enables more than one person to work on a document at once.

Password-protected storage with permissions

Each file on SkyDrive is stored in a folder of your choice, and has a unique URL that you can easily share with your contacts. You can create multiple folders, set permissions, and then send an invitation to your friends.

If you're looking to back up your files online and worried about security - you can set a file or a folder to private access to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. However, because your files are stored in the cloud you can still access it from any PC connected to the internet, so your stuff will always be close at hand.

Alternatively, you can choose who you want to see your files by setting a folder's permissions to public or electing to share it with individuals. This becomes increasingly compelling when you start collaborating on Office documents and sharing them within your circle.

Powerful photo viewer

SkyDrive's new photo viewer makes it even easier to view pictures in your browser window, without the need for download. The online photo viewer allows your photos to fill the browser window giving them more room to breathe. Thumbnails of your photos reflect the original aspect ratio so there's no distortion or stretching.

What's more the photo viewing experience is now a joy to behold. This becomes evident when viewing a photo album - your images scroll as each seamlessly melts into the next. No waiting around to load the next page.

SkyDrive has a powerful, built-in photo viewer.

SkyDrive has a powerful, built-in photo viewer.

Is there a file size limit?

Yes, each file uploaded is limited to 100MB in size which is more than adequate for most uses. This has been doubled from the previous 50MB cap.

How do I use it?

Sharing your stuff on SkyDrive is easy thanks to its drag and drop interface. If you've ever wanted to share a file via email but found it's too big, you can put it up on SkyDrive instead - by setting permissions you can also control who has access to your stuff.

Where can I get it?

SkyDrive can be accessed from any web browser. Log in to SkyDrive

Anybody with a Windows Live ID is eligible to use SkyDrive. If you already have a Hotmail account or use Windows Live Messenger you will already have a Windows Live ID.

You can pin SkyDrive to your taskbar for easy access.

You can pin SkyDrive to your taskbar for easy access.

Pin it to your taskbar

By downloading Internet Explorer 9 you can take advantage of site pinning and access your favourite websites even faster.

To pin a website with Internet Explorer 9 just drag the window onto your Windows 7 taskbar to create a shortcut.

Right-clicking on the newly created icon will display a context-sensitive menu that shows shortcuts to your SkyDrive, files and folders.

You can also create new Office 2010 documents from this menu by initializing Office Web Apps.

Pinning SkyDrive to your Windows taskbar means your online storage is always just a click away - meaning there's no need to commit another URL to memory.

Follow the editor on Twitter
Join Windows Live Channel on Facebook

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?