|At a Glance|
|Product||SDExplorer [Web site]|
|Summary||Windows Explorer extension to access documents on Microsoft Live SkyDrive|
|Pros||• Integrates SkyDrive right into your desktop|
|Cons||• Can’t sync between PC and SkyDrive|
Microsoft has had SkyDrive around for quite some time now, but most people just use it for cloud storage. You get 25 GB of free storage with SkyDrive, which is more than you get with many other free cloud storage offers. SDExplorer installs as a Windows Explorer extension and simply opens up that 25 GB of storage space in the cloud and presents it to you as though it were a drive on your PC. I’ve found the Microsoft interface on SkyDrive quite cumbersome, so SDExplorer is a good way around it.
Through the basic version, you get an interface in Windows Explorer that allows you to manage and upload/download files. So that you can see what I mean, here is the normal SkyDrive view:
SkyDrive View of Folders
And the view using SDExplorer:
SDExplorer View of Folder
I’ll not go through the whole installation process, it’s self explanatory. You download the application from here (I chose the free version 3.1). Once installed, you’ll be prompted for your Windows SkyDrive credentials…
Assuming your credentials are valid, you now have a new "system folder".
SDExplorer System Folder
Navigate into the new folder and you’ll see all your SkyDrive files and folders.
With SDExplorer installed, you can now manage your SkyDrive files and folders like you would any other file in Windows Explorer. You can drag-and-drop, cut and paste, etc. to/from SDExplorer like you would elsewhere in Windows. I feel as though I should write more about what SDExplorer does, but it’s that simple!
A note on uploading your files, though. When you drag-and-drop a significant amount of data into SkyDrive using SDExplorer, you’ll lose use of that Explorer window while the files are being uploaded, although you can carry on doing things elsewhere in Windows. The amount of time you wait is obviously dependent upon what you’re copying and your upload speed.
This has implications if you want to back up a lot of data to SkyDrive, 25 GB for example. Unless you’re happy just to leave the copy running for as long as it takes, you might prefer some upload management to get all your files uploaded. For example, I prefer the background syncing you get with Dropbox and SugarSync.
Fortunately, there is also an Advanced version of SDExplorer that supports background uploading and some other features summarized in the comparison table below. The Advanced version sells for $13.75 for a single-PC license or $26.25 for a three license pack ($19.95 until 20 April 2012).
Basic SDExplorer vs. Advanced feature summary
It is important to note that SDExplorer does not sync your SkyDrive files to your local machine. It only provides direct access to your Microsoft SkyDrive data. So you’re working directly with cloud-based files when you’re working in the SkyDrive folder.
SDExplorer is via web-based ticket (screenshot below) and a FAQ. There is no phone number, physical address or even email address on the CloudStorageExplorer.com website, although they do mention that they are located in Russia.
I can’t comment on response time to tickets, as I’ve never raised one. In theory though, if you do raise a ticket, you can check the status of it directly.
SDEXplorer Support Options
I like SDExplorer. It’s simple and supports all Windows Explorer features on SkyDrive files. If they only had background sync, it would really be a killer app!