Cloud Storage from Microsoft: SkyDrive and Windows Azure

Microsoft competes aggressively in the cloud storage market with their cloud platform Window Azure. As a personal cloud storage service, Microsoft has SkyDrive that brings ease in sharing and editing photos and files, especially from Windows-based software.  So if you’re a PC user, you can’t go wrong with another product from the Windows-maker, but if you’re a Mac user, you might want to move on.

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Windows Azure

Windows Azure uses WAAD (Windows Azure Active Directory) as the directory service for the cloud. Many of the cloud properties including the Windows Azure Online Backup, Office 365, and Windows InTune use WAAD. The customer base continues to grow. In December 2012, they reportedly stored more than four trillion objects, process 270,000 requests a second on average with a peak of 880,000 requests per second.

Windows Azure Pricing

Windows Azure allows users to start their service for websites for free, then allows them to add on as web traffic grows. New users can try Azure for free for 90 days, then purchase six- and twelve-month commitment plans with 32 percent savings. Pay-as-You-Go options with no long-term commitment are available to interested parties. Use the online pricing calculator to determine how much is needed to use only the data that is needed.

Benefits of Windows Azure

Window Azure Virtual Machines (VM) are elastic, on-demand virtual servers that website developers can pre-configure with either Windows or Linux to meet their application needs or manage their ongoing performance.

Pros of Windows Azure

One of the killer advantages of using Windows Azure cloud storage is its scalability. Developers can remove or add instances to their application if their website resources need it. Data is stored in three locations so that Windows Azure is able to maintain 99.95% uptime as well as recoverability. The cloud service is guaranteed by the SLA (Service Level Agreement).

Cons of Windows Azure

Only Windows-based applications are supported by technical support. If anyone wanted to install and run their own operations system, they are out of luck. Azure is more ideal for large-scale operations than smaller website storage that can be managed by the developers themselves.

Microsoft SkyDrive

Cost of Microsoft SkyDrive

Microsoft SkyDrive users can get 7 GB of free storage or add on additional storage options for an annual price:

  • Add 20 GB = $10
  • Add 50 GB = $25
  • Add 100 GB = $50

Benefits of Microsoft SkyDrive

SkyDrive not only makes it possible to access files and photos from anywhere, but also to create, edit and share Microsoft Office files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) from PCs or Macs. In December 2012, Microsoft also released the SkyDrive app for its Xbox 360 game console. The ability to store files and photos with SkyDrive is faster and safer than with external drives. Microsoft has plenty of storage space and is not likely to disappear anytime soon.

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Pros of Microsoft SkyDrive

SkyDrive offers more free storage than the competition. Updated SkyDrive app on PC desktops allows users to pick which folders they want to sync with their computer rather than downloading all files at once, ideal for devices with limited storage. It also has built-in social media sharing.

SkyDrive is the best cloud storage service if using a Windows Phone mobile device. It is easy to use with its simple interface.

Cons of Microsoft SkyDrive

Selective sync feature means it can only select a folder, not chosen files inside the folder. Other folders are left in the cloud. The SkyDrive App for Windows Phone is not password protection, though it may be overlooked as the phone itself can be password protected. Also, users pay for cloud storage at an annual price, not month-to-month like other services.

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