Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Photo-Friendliness of SkyDrive

SkyDrive has been out of beta for some now, and is now more tightly included in Windows Live Essentials (the useful utility software that are now no longer included in Windows 7). So an update on my previous review is well and truly due.

Photo-friendly features

There is now Photo a folder in your SkyDrive. This lets you create and share on-line photo albums. Any folder is created under the main photo is considered an album and you get a slideshow option in timage he menu and the viewer can automatically step through the photos. It is worth noting, by default new folders in this photo area will have public access but you can easily change permission and limit access to a specific users or groups.

imageIf you also have Windows Live Photo Gallery (also part of windows live essential and free to download) the uploading and managing becomes imagevery easy. Just select the photos you want and select “Publish” and then when the file transfer is finished click on the “View album” button

The Default Free capacity of Skydrive is now 25 Giga bytes (that’s a lot)

Whilst photo backup is not specifically mentioned in the SkyDrive promotions, I am willing to bet it becomes one of its most used features. Because the folder structure is photo friendly, not only will you photos be stored safely in a second location they will be much easy to find and access than searching through a shoebox full of CDs.

Accessing Your Skydrive

The downside of SkyDrive is still the same as in the beta version, the default upload and access features are web based, and most significantly just apply to one file at a time. There is a package called Gladinet, that lets you set up the skydrive as virtual drive with its own drive letter, albeit a slow drive but the concept sounds neat. However there is a lot of web backchat that people have trouble getting this to work.  So I haven’t tried it yet! What I have tried and kept using is SkyDrive Explorer, which extends the web application to also work on groups of files, folders etc. for copy renaming and deleting etc. the best bit is it allows drag and drop for these file operations. My one complaint is it does not currently have a move option, so you need to copy, [check it worked] and delete.image It even gives reliable estimates of how long the operation it might take, and it will still be much longer than a local copy. It is a simple & small  explorer add-in and doesn’t require extra drivers installed on your computers or Active-X, and importantly follow secure protocols to transfer files so they protected from your average snoopers.

My Virtual Scrapbooks

I work on a few different computers these days, two different notebooks and a desktop. Not to mention mobile phones, cyber cafes and whatever computer is handy as i travel. I always end up with collections of half processed but still interesting projects scattered all over the place. So I decided to create a couple of virtual scrapbook on my SkyDrive. I still work on things, like autostitching, HDRI merges, collages, noise filtering on copies of photos locally, but now I religiously copy these temporary working folders to the skydrive and delete the local working copy. Why? Well when I want to find these half finished and semi forgotten projects I no longer have to search in four or five places. I have my folders on the SkyDrive organized by project type & theme. I also can look through this  every month or so and just delete stuff that I am unlikely to consider again, or re-prioritise things of interest. So this has both freed up my computers from a lot of unnecessary file clutter and at the same time made it easier to find things that I only need occasionally.

The idea of photo scrapbooks doesn’t have to be implemented via SkyDrive by the way, it could be a virtual drive or shared folder on your network or even on a flash or USB back-pack drive. Using SkyDrive, which is always there if you have internet access, just removes the worries like “Is the that drive connected?” and “is that computer turned on?”

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