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Skydrive - The Best Free File Hosting Service Out There?

Oh goody! Microsoft has a new idea for its Live Cloud computing platform! Now if I could be given a dollar for every time Microsoft either tried to rename a service, rebrand it, add another me-too program or try to tell you that Live was now something so different, so new you had to check it out again, I would probably have tens of dollars.

Skydrive

You begin to wonder, if they should just put Live out of its misery. No one really knows why Microsoft can't make up its mind once and for all what Live is all about, but as far as I'm concerned, Live is the greatest free file hosting service on the planet and I don't really care about the other stuff on Live (whatever they are).

Instead of constantly trying a new avatar for Live, they would do well to put a little publicity behind the excellent free file hosting service they have, which is even available to Mac and Linux users. When you first visit Windows Live, you see that there are two main categories of Live apps.

The first category has stuff that Microsoft would rather give to you, with your copy of Windows, but gets so much hassle getting sued all the time for giving away free stuff with Windows.

So, you have to come here to Live and download them if you want to - things like what used to be called Outlook Express (but is now called Windows Mail), and Live Messenger or Movie Maker. But what we really have our sights on is the second category, the Cloud computing services.

There are some pretty ho-hum services like Hotmail and the address book Windows Live People. But let us look at the free file hosting service Windows Live Skydrive (which, you have to admit, is a cool name). It is a virtual storage area, all your own, out in the ether - your own 25 GB storage area.

It's there for anything you want to do - move personal files off your computer to out there where they can be safe from prying eyes, or use it as backup space for your critical files that you can't trust to any one place.

There are lots of services that do this, Apple's iDisk among others. The killer point here however is though that no matter what computer you're using, Mac, Windows or Linux, you can have your virtual hard drive pop up on your screen wherever you are. For being a free service, it gives you 25 GB, as opposed to the 2 GB of the other services.

So how do you get started with Skydrive?

All you need is a free Windows Live account and once you're armed with your username and password, you just head to skydrive.live.com to get started with your free file hosting.

Like on Facebook, you get to keep a part of it open so everyone can see it (called Public), some parts that you can share with a few select people (called Shared) and a part you can keep completely private (called Favorites).

It's easy and quick if you use Skydrive's Upload Tool. If you do not want to use the tool, you can still just add files one by one, but that is so inefficient you'll soon get tired of it.

The thing with other free file hosting services is that you're always made aware that you are uploading something in an unnatural way to someplace far away. It isn't a natural process.

With Skydrive and a tool called Cloud Storage Explorer, your Skydrive just becomes one more icon on your desktop. You just pull files back and forth as if you didn't know the difference between a virtual and a real drive.

Skydrive
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