Simple Questions: What is (Windows Live) SkyDrive?

If you are using any of the applications included in Windows Live Essentials, you will have encountered the term SkyDrive. The same if you are using Windows 8 or Microsoft Office 2013. Ever wondered what SkyDrive is and what you can do with it? This article will explain in detail.

What is (Windows Live) SkyDrive?

The short answer to the question is: SkyDrive is the free service offered by Microsoft to host files in the "cloud" for all owners of a Microsoft account. SkyDrive also allows you to store, sync and share files with other people and devices across the web. Windows 8 also uses the SkyDrive for synchronizing your settings and visual customization across computers and devices.

Files hosted on it can be accessed directly from a web browser or via other tools and apps offered by Microsoft: the applications included in the Windows Live Essentials package, Microsoft Office 2010 and 2013, Windows 8, Windows Phone, etc.

NOTE: Until the launch of Windows 8, SkyDrive used to be named a Windows Live SkyDrive. That’s why we mention Windows Live in brackets.

What does it offer in terms of space?

SkyDrive is relatively generous in terms of space offered to users: 7GB free space. Older users of the service were able to reclaim more free space - 25 GB.

You can host any file types on it, as long as files are not bigger than 100MB each. If you are using the SkyDrive desktop application, you can upload files that are up to 2GB in size.

You can purchase additional space for a yearly fee: 20 GB for $10.00/year, 50 GB for $25.00/year and 100 GB - $50.00/year.

How to Access SkyDrive?

SkyDrive is the central point to hosting and sharing files online via Microsoft services and applications. The only way to access it "independently" is via a web browser. Simply go to the SkyDrive page, enter your Microsoft account details and sign in.

What is SkyDrive

Once signed in, you can see all the files you hosted and you can open them directly from your browser.

What is SkyDrive

With Internet Explorer 9 & 10, you can also pin SkyDrive to your taskbar and get fast access to your files.

What is SkyDrive

SkyDrive can be accessed from many computers and devices: Windows computers and tablets, Macs, Android smartphones, iPhones and Windows Phones. The complete list of apps and clients can be found here: Get SkyDrive apps, on any device.

Online Collaboration and Sharing with SkyDrive

One of the great features of SkyDrive is that it allows you to collaborate on documents (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote) with others, as long as they also have a Microsoft account.

What is SkyDrive

You can create documents directly from the browser. There you have a "light" version of Microsoft Office 2013 which gives access to common editing tools.

What is SkyDrive

You can also create documents directly in Microsoft Office 2010 and 2013 and save them directly on the SkyDrive.

What is SkyDrive

Or, if this doesn’t work for you, create documents in any Office suite and then manually upload the documents yourself.

Sharing documents for collaboration is very easy. Simply click or tap the Share button on the top toolbar and choose the sharing method you prefer.

What is SkyDrive

A more detailed guide about how sharing works, can be found here: How to Share Files and Folders Using the SkyDrive Web App.

One last useful feature is that SkyDrive allows you to access remotely all the files on the computers where the SkyDrive desktop application is installed. To learn how this feature works, read this detailed guide: How to Fetch Files Remotely from Your Computers Using SkyDrive.

The Default Host for Storing, Synchronizing and Sharing from Windows 8, Windows Live Essentials & Windows Phone

One of the key aspects of SkyDrive is the fact that it is deeply integrated with all applications included in the Windows Live Essentials suite: you can publish & share your photos via Windows Live Photo Gallery, or your videos via Windows Live Movie Maker.

What is SkyDrive

Another important aspect is the fact that it is also integrated with Windows 8 and Windows Phone. You can upload files to it from your computer, tablet or phone and access them at any time.


As you can see, SkyDrive is a great service. It offers quite a bit of free space and anyone can use it without too much hassle on a multitude of devices. If you have any questions about it, don’t hesitate to ask via the comments form below.