Monday, May 14, 2012

Moving To The Cloud: Update

How the world can change in a month. Back in mid-April I wrote about moving my data to the cloud. In previous parts I talked about using Office 365 and moving ten years of e-mail across to the cloud Exchange server.

So what has happened since last month? Microsoft has released their SkyDrive App and, while Mesh is still operational, with Microsoft announcing the death of the Live brand (of which Mesh is a key part) it is probably a fair speculation to suggest it is a product on the way out.

To this end, my cloud data strategy has shifted somewhat.

So What Is In the SkyDrive App?

The application itself is pretty simple. Once you install it, it copies the entire contents of your cloud SkyDrive to a local folder of your choosing and then keeps it synched. Given Microsoft were giving 25G for free (new signups only get 7G), this had the potential to fill up one of the 32G drives on my PC tablet so I have only installed it on the old laptop.

It is like the old Mesh but with less fine control on what gets brought down and where it goes. There is also no option for synching shortcuts but, apparently, this will be a standard part of Windows 8.

The 100M limit has been increased to 2G, although for larger files you can still use Gladinet to chunk them (I am not sure it is worth it as for files larger than 2G, I’d probably go with a-drive if they are simply family photos or movies).

Finally, if you have really long folder paths and file names, they may get picked up when SkyDrive starts copying down files. In this case it suggests you rearrange things and start the app again.

What About Mesh?

I used Mesh for a couple of purposes. The first was to do what the SkyDrive app does i.e. keep a local copy of information. The second was to sync certain folders onto my wife’s computer and also to my work computer. Short of copying EVERYTHING down to those other machines this is no longer possible. The best that can be done is sharing folders online via a shortcut. While do-able, this is little more than a workaround.

I have now killed Mesh. It was actually fairly simple. I copied the folders to a new folder in my SkyDrive called Mesh, turned off Mesh for all computers and then took a backup in case things go awry. I can always browse online if I need a folder at work and I have given my wife the appropriate shortcuts for the stuff she needs. It is a little clunkier than before but workable.

What About New Stuff?

Essentially, I have the SkyDrive folder in the My Documents area. Anything new is held on the desktop and moved across when things get too crowded. With the relatively complex folder structure of a Windows user account, this is not a great solution but I will see how it goes. My fear is something being dropped into another Documents folder and being overlooked.

Hopefully, either the app will improve over time or Windows 8 will simplify the user account structure.


I am not the biggest fan of the new SkyDrive app but transitioning to use it was relatively straightforward and I am sure the feedback from the web will coax Microsoft into tweaking it. With devices becoming more cloud-friendly for data storage I am not sure forcing a user to dump down their entire SkyDrive is the greatest choice and my prediction is this will be the first to go.

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