Microsoft beefed up its SkyDrive file-synchronization service when Google Drive (Free for 5 GB) launched, and critics say the improvements -- which include PC and Mac clients and upping the maximum file upload size to 2 GB -- make it a very compelling choice for people looking to share data among several computers, Windows Phone and/or iOS devices.
Reviewers love the interface, which mimics the seamless interface in Dropbox (Free for 2GB) -- the former king of the hill when it comes to file-syncing services. Dragging and dropping a file into the SkyDrive folder on your PC or Mac makes it almost immediately available through the web interface or on other SkyDrive-enabled devices. Restoring previous versions of a file -- SkyDrive saves your last 25 revisions for every file stored -- is a click away.
Music stored in SkyDrive can be streamed to Windows phones from Microsoft's servers, and Office and Microsoft OneNote files can be edited in-browser using the Microsoft Web Apps. Reviewers say file support for editing documents is largely restricted to Microsoft formats (such as .DOC and .XLS); all other files must be downloaded and edited locally. Files can be edited collaboratively, but changes only appear when all parties have saved and refreshed the document. Experts say the editing functions set SkyDrive apart as a file-synchronization service, but they prefer Google Drive.
Microsoft transfers data using a 128-bit SSL encrypted connection, but doesn't encrypt your data in any other way, either on your PC or on its servers. There isn't any archiving protection whatsoever, either -- once you delete a file from SkyDrive, it disappears forever.
Critics say SkyDrive is the file-synchronization service with the best value dollar-for-dollar. New users receive 7 GB of storage free, with 20 GB (*Est. $10 per year), 50 GB (*Est. $25 per year) and 100 GB (*Est. $50 per year) upgrades available for far less than what competitors charge. Plans top out at 100 GB, however.
Pocket-Lint.com, the Associated Press, Laptop Magazine, TheVerge.com and RedmondPie.com provide the most useful insight; all conduct in-depth comparisons of Microsoft SkyDrive against its primary competitors. Mashable.com, Gizmodo.com and Gizmo's Freeware do the same, but their evaluations are much more brief and much less detailed.
British site Pocket-Lint.com praises Microsoft SkyDrive for its large free storage offering, low prices, robust editing and sharing features and decent device support. "If they could only get an official Android app going, it would be hard to refuse," Dan Sung writes.
Review: Apple iCloud vs Google vs Amazon Cloud Drive vs Dropbox vs Microsoft SkyDrive, Dan Sung, April 26, 2012
2. Laptop Magazine
While Dan Howley calls Google Drive the best overall file-synchronization service, he says Skydrive is the champ when it comes to pricing and productivity. However, like other reviewers, he bemoans the lack of an Android app.
Review: Cloud Service Face-Off: Google vs. Microsoft vs. Apple, Dan Howley, April 25, 2012
3. Associated Press
Despite being the best option for storage and pricing, technology editor Anick Jesdanun gives SkyDrive the bronze medal in this roundup of SkyDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive. He was disappointed that the service shrunk the resolution of several pictures he uploaded without warning him.
Review: Review: Using Files Made Easy with Online Storage, Anick Jesdanun, May 3, 2012
"SkyDrive makes for an extremely well-rounded entry," Ellis Hamburger writes, thanks to the blend of productivity features and seamless syncing abilities. He also appreciates SkyDrive's Fetch tool, which lets you remotely access any computer that you've installed the SkyDrive desktop client on.
Review: Google Drive vs. Dropbox, SkyDrive, SugarSync, and Others: a Cloud Sync Storage Face-off, Ellis Hamburger, April 24, 2012
Paul Paliath calls SkyDrive "awesome" and recommends it over its competitors, assuming you can get past the lack of an Android or BlackBerry mobile app. "Their pricing is hard to beat, and most of the functionality that anyone will need has been added in the latest update," he says.
Review: SkyDrive vs iCloud vs Dropbox: Which Is the Best Cloud Storage / Backup Service That You Should Use?, Paul Paliath, April 24, 2012
Mashable.com's Christina Warren compares Google Drive with several of its competitors, including Microsoft SkyDrive. In the end, she finds both Google Drive and SkyDrive to be very similar. Warren says that Microsoft Office users and people looking for the most storage for the least money will want to check out SkyDrive.
Review: How Does Google Drive Compare to the Competition?, Christina Warren, April 24, 2012
7. Gizmo's Freeware
Although the editors note that SkyDrive lacks encryption options and are disappointed that all the files you want to sync have to remain in the pre-designated SkyDrive folder, they name it the best free online backup service overall thanks to its unparalleled 7 GB of free storage.
Review: Best Free Online Backup Sites, Editors of Gizmo's Freeware, May 28, 2012
Although this review is lacking in depth and discussion, Adrian Covert says that SkyDrive's low subscription prices and large amount of free storage make it the best value among file synchronization services.
Review: Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox and More Compared: What's the Best Cloud Option?, Adrian Covert, April 24, 2012