Microsoft adds paid storage options to its SkyDrive cloud service

Microsoft adds paid storage options to its SkyDrive cloud service

Summary: Microsoft has announced the rumored paid storage tiers for SkyDrive, its cloud storage service, and has rolled out previews of new SkyDrive apps for Windows and Mac OS X Lion.


As rumors have indicated for a while, Microsoft has added paid storage options to its SkyDrive cloud service.

Brand new SkyDrive users get7 GB of storage for free. Existing users (those with accounts as of April 22) continue to get up to 25 GB of storage for free if they opt to do so. After that, an additional 20 GB costs $10 per year; an additional 50 GB costs $25 per year; and an additional 100 GB, $50 per year.

Microsoft also made available for download on April 23 a preview version of SkyDrive for Windows, a local version of its SkyDrive client. This is the first step the Softies are taking toward integrating SkyDrive with Live Mesh, the company's synchronization service that's similar to DropBox. The preview is available for Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

With the SkyDrive app for Windows, everything put in a SkyDrive folder on a Windows PC is automatically kept in sync between PCs, Macs and, according to the download site. Also on the feature list:

  • Ability to access SkyDrive directly from Windows Explorer — photos, documents, and other files
  • Option to add new files to SkyDrive by dragging them to the SkyDrive folder
  • Ability to organize files and folders in SkyDrive, just like any other folder
  • Option to connect back to the PC if the user forgets to put something in SkyDrive

Microsoft officials have been working to turn SkyDrive into a full-fledged service, rather than just a Web site, for the past several months. The company's moves on this front have taken on an urgency with Google's competitor, GDrive, finally materializing after years of rumors.

Microsoft also made available an updated version of its SkyDrive app for Windows Phone on April 22. There's also a new preview of SkyDrive for Mac OS X Lion available for download today, as well.

Update: Microsoft also updated the iPhone and iPad versions of SkyDrive today, as well. (Thanks for the info, @tomarbuthnot.) These updates support the new Retina Display, and add a couple other new features.

Update No. 2: Microsoft also is surfacing apps that are designed to work with SkyDrive on different platforms and devices (to make them easier for users to discover, I'd assume).

Topics: Windows, CXO, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Storage


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Initial install shows 7GB ...

    after the initial install if you go to Manage Storage you will find that the total storage is listed as 7GB.

    You can see a free upgrade to 25GB in the storage plans. Go ahead and upgrade and get 25GB for free.

    It worked for me.
    • Yeah, get it while you can...

      The post on the Building Windows 8 Blog ( says that if your account was created on April 22 or before you can get 25GB for free.
  • Finally, can't wait till I can actually use it

    I was excited that the new application was out, but it sucks for me, because in order to browse your computer through you need to enter a security code that is sent to another non-Hotmail address. I completely forgot that my other email address no longer works and now I have to wait 30 days for it to be removed.

    Oh well, seems very nice otherwise. We can now use all of our storage instead of the puny 5GB, and the list of files on are actual files that are synced.
  • Finally.

    Glad to see it all coming together. This puts SkyDrive leaps and bounds over Google Drive and gives DropBox a run for it's money. Very nice.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • It actually curb stomps Dropbox.....

      Think about it. Skydrive gives you 100GB of storage for $50/year. Dropbox charges you 4 times as much, or $200/year for 100GB of storage. Not to mention that Microsoft grandfathers in existing users to 25GB of free storage, and new users get 7GB. That's still three and half times as much free space as Dropbox gives you which is 2GB.

      You'd be crazy to use Dropbox over Skydrive, unless you were on Android and couldn't get Skydrive. But there are third party applications that sync with Skydrive on Android.
  • You can upgrade to 25 GB now!

    ...if you are a current user. You just have to log in twice:
  • Still have "trust issues"

    Not going to store anything online. Why should OI, when I have a few 1 TB drives attached to my router. If you do daily incremental backups, the need to hand our data over to some faceless demon in the "cloud" is reduced.The last thing I need is to have Google/ Microsoft/ Apple/ etc. going through my personal files. I can't wait till one of these services gets compromised, and millions of pictures, videos, emails, and other documents are publicly posted. On that day I will say "I told you so", and laugh at the fanboys, as they scratch their heads!!!
    Jumpin Jack Flash
    • I do too.

      And all my personal files are still ofine, and always will be. But I can't lie and say having my school notes and projects synced isn't a big help, because it is. But that's all I can bare to put online.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • And then

      you house is robbed and your hard drives are stolen. Best of luck with that!
      • I doubt that will happen asthe drives are not

        In plain sight. But it's okay you believe that your important information is good in the "cloud"... Why not upload all your CC and banking info? It's safe isn't it? These mega corps are not going to sift through the data, or offer you protection if the data is compromised?
        Jumpin Jack Flash
      • Or ... there's a fire, or earthquake, or hurricane, or tornado, or tsunami

        You should ALWAYS have an offsite backup. If you don't trust large companies, work out something with a friend or store an occaisional backup in your safe deposit box at the bank.

        If you're worried about security, or somebody pawing through your stuff to see if you stole any of your MP3's use encryption.
      • Or your house...

        burns down. Happened to me. I was just a kid at the time, but everything was lost.
    • Paranoid much?

      There are plenty of reasons for using online storage. If you're paranoid about sensitive/private information you just need to come up with your own solution (e.g. a thumbdrive buried in your garden or in a bank vault, but you probably don't trust the bank either).

      I store lots of information online. It means I can access it from my phone or my tablet or a PC at a friend's house or work. Very convenient. I don't store my credit card number or deeply private info online, but nobody is suggesting you do that.

      Online backup is a great way to save your files from being stolen/lost due to theft, fire, bitrot, etc.

      That said, it's paranoid to think these online services are any less safe than keeping your data in your home. It's just like people who are paranoid of using their credit card online but have no problem handing over the physical card to a dodgy underpaid waiter in a dodgy bar in a developing country. The fear outweighs the risk by a huge margin.
  • This is nice

    Free storage is great ..Just got my 25 GB and downloaded the Skydrive for desktop. Now you can drag and drop manage files to your Skydrive...

    Nice job all around.
  • Encrypting File System (EFS) and SkyDrive

    I've just tested it, an EFS-encrypted file will sync up to SkyDrive in plaintext, then it can be edited on Windows Phone in plaintext. When the edited file is resynced down to the computer again, the file is in plaintext and the EFS encryption is silently removed (SSL is still used of course).

    This is not handled well by SkyDrive.

    There should either be a warning or, which would be much better, allow the file to be synced while still EFS-encrypted. You wouldn't be able to read the file with Phone, but that's fine.

    One of the main obstacles to using cloud storage and backup of files is that users do not want the cloud hosting provider to see any of the file contents. Nor do they want hackers to see file contents when they break in. EFS would be great for this because of its transparency. Another fail for Microsoft's customers. Hopefully this will be fixed in the next release or with the LiveMesh-replacement release.

    And don't go on about how EFS is rarely used, too hard for users, etc. EFS support could be optional and, on first syncing an EFS file, a pop-up dialog box could ask the user what they prefer.

    This could also be a big selling point for Microsoft: I'd gladly pay to have both EFS support and 100GB max storage to backup my personal files. And EFS is much better than encrypting with a password -- it's both more transparent and more secure, which could be a great selling point versus the other cloud storage providers. Another fail for Microsoft marketing.
    • Oh good God.....

      If Skydrive is such a failure, then shut the hell up whining about it and go use something else.
    • EFS = EOF

      You know that EFS is on of the features that the new windows 8 filesystem does not support anymore?
      • ReFS

        ReFS is for servers only right now, where theft and lost devices isn't much of a risk, but might be why no EFS support Azure-side for SkyDrive. We'll have to see if EFS is still supported on client SKUs when they get ReFS later on.

        Btw, WebDAV and ROBOCOPY.EXE also support raw EFS transfer, which is nice for scripting, but I doubt the new SkyDrive client for Windows Explorer uses WebDAV. With the Windows 8 virtual smart card with a TPM, the EFS key can also be secured by the virtual (or real) smart card.
    • EFS

      EFS files are encrypted with a key which in turn is encrypted using a key-pair bound to your Windows logon. This works well with an Active Directory environment but is not designed for the cloud. Its not a limitation of SkyDrive but rather a design feature of EFS. As there is no way to centrally authenticate your windows logon on the cloud, encrypted files will be inaccessible on other devices defeating one of the best features of cloud storage - mobility.

      Windows 8 however brings something interesting to the table - the ability to logon using Microsoft ID. You immediately have access to your settings and cloud storage on any device. It will be interesting to see how this further develops.
      • Good Argument

        But for data backup, it would nice to have the option, even if mobility across stand-alone devices is broken (EFS cert and private key could be exported by advanced users and imported to other machines, but this is too much for regular users). Maybe Microsoft ID will sync private keys in addition to other settings? Maybe the new Windows Backup will have save-to-SkyDrive with local encryption and not replace the entire archive with each small change to the source files?