How To Sync Any Folder To SkyDrive, And How To Use SkyDrive On Windows XP

Chris Hoffman 13-07-2012

sync to skydrive


Microsoft’s new SkyDrive is a great entry in the cloud storage wars Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive: Which Cloud Storage Is Best for You? Have you changed the way you think about cloud storage? The popular options of Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive have been joined by others. We help you answer which cloud storage service should you use. Read More — it competes toe-to-toe with Dropbox, Google Drive, and the rest. However, it has some limitations – like many cloud storage services, SkyDrive doesn’t allow you to synchronize any folder on your computer, only folders inside a special SkyDrive folder. It also doesn’t run on Windows XP, leaving a lot of users out in the cold. We’ll show you how to overcome these limitations and use SkyDrive the way you want to.

The tricks here aren’t officially supported, so they may stop working in the future. However, we tested them ourselves and they work well today.

Sync Any Folder to SkyDrive

Perhaps the easiest way to synchronize any folder with SkyDrive is with the third-party SkyShellEx utility. It adds a special right-click option to folders that allows you to quickly synchronize that folder with SkyDrive. Download the x64 version if you’re using a 64-bit version of Windows or the x86 version if you’re using a 32-bit version of Windows. (See our post here How to Choose Between 32-Bit and 64-Bit Windows Operating Systems Should you download 32-bit or 64-bit Windows? Here are the differences between 32-bit and 64-bit installations to help you decide. Read More for instructions on determining which version of Windows you’re using.)

After installing SkyShellEx, right-click any folder and select Sync to SkyDrive. A special link to that folder will appear in your SkyDrive folder and SkyDrive will begin to sync it. To stop syncing the folder, right-click the special link folder inside your SkyDrive folder and click Stop Sync to SkyDrive.

sync to skydrive


You don’t need a third-party utility, though. You can do the dirty work yourself with a single command from the Windows Command Prompt A Beginner's Guide To The Windows Command Line The command line lets you communicate directly with your computer and instruct it to perform various tasks. Read More . The SkyShellEx utility creates a “directory junction” on the Windows NTFS file system How To Reformat Your FAT32 Drive To NTFS - And The Advantages Of Doing It You may not know it, but choosing the right filesystem for your drives is actually pretty important. Although the main idea of all filesystems is the same, there are many advantages and disadvantages over each... Read More – the junction points to a directory elsewhere on the system. From SkyDrive’s point of view, the directory itself appears in the SkyDrive directory, so SkyDrive syncs it normally.

For example, to sync the folder located at D:\Folder with SkyDrive, you’d run the following command in a Command Prompt window:

mklink /J  “C:\Users\USERNAME\SkyDrive\Folder” “D:\Folder”

Remember to replace USERNAME in the command above with your Windows username.

sync to skydrive windows


Set up directory junctions on all your computers and SkyDrive will sync files between those folders – for example, if you have some files in C:\YourDocuments, it will keep the files in sync between the C:\YourDocuments directories on each of your computers. If you don’t set up directory junctions on each computer, you’ll still find your files available in the SkyDrive folder – a good backup solution What Is The Best Backup Solution? [Geeks Weigh In] Ten years ago an external hard drive – or even a physical disc such as a CD-ROM – was the only practical way to back up files. Consumer-grade network storage solutions were primitive, expensive and... Read More .

Use SkyDrive on Windows XP

Microsoft won’t allow you to install the official SkyDrive application on Windows XP, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use SkyDrive anyway. We recommend using SDExplorer, a third-party program. The free version doesn’t have all the additional features offered in the paid version, known as SDExplorer Advanced, but it should still serve you fine. After you install SDExplorer, double-click its icon in the My Computer window – SDExplorer exposes your SkyDrive as an actual drive on your system.

sync to skydrive windows

After you double-click it, you’ll be prompted to log in with your Windows Live ID (soon to be known as a “Microsoft account”). After you do, you’ll see the contents of your SkyDrive in SDExplorer.


sync to skydrive

If you’d prefer an officially supported solution, you may want to try one of SkyDrive’s competitors – both Dropbox What Is Dropbox? The Unofficial Dropbox User Guide What is Dropbox and how do you use it? Our Dropbox user guide will explain everything you need to know to get started. Read More and Google Drive A Look At Google Drive, Google's Long-Awaited Cloud Storage Service After more than 6 years of rumors and a long-ago cancellation because "files are so 1990", Google Drive is finally here. Coming with 5 GB of free storage space, a Dropbox-like desktop sync client, and... Read More work on Windows XP, as do many other cloud storage solutions. Microsoft is uniquely invested in pushing you to upgrade from Windows XP How to Upgrade From Windows XP to Windows 7 or 10 If you're still running Windows XP, it's high time to upgrade! Whether you want to move to Windows 10 or Windows 7, the process is mostly the same. We explain it step by step. Read More .

Do you know any other tips and tricks for SkyDrive? Leave a comment and share them!

Related topics: Cloud Computing, Cloud Storage, Microsoft SkyDrive, Windows XP.

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  1. Sam
    December 10, 2012 at 12:00 am

    I just downloaded SkyShellEx 64 bit on my computer (running Windows 8), and used it to sync My Documents folder with the Skydrive folder. However, after adding a new file to My Documents it doesn't automatically start processing changes and uploading the file to my SkyDrive account. How can I fix this problem?

  2. yarasa GR67
    December 6, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    i am still use XP so thank you very much for the SDExplorer app.

  3. Robert Hockenhull
    December 5, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    Looks like it does not work in Windows 8...or, I don't know what i'm doing.

  4. Svetlana Shevchenko
    November 25, 2012 at 10:17 am

    You can try syncDriver for SkyDrive from here It's working fine on Windows XP.

  5. Daniel Bohry
    November 8, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Very nice!! Thanks!

  6. JohnY
    October 7, 2012 at 11:03 am

    I have been using SkyshellEx to link folders to the SkyDrive folder on my Desktop Computer, no problem - works well.
    But, there is always a But, will Skydrive sync backwards to the original folder on my Desktop Computer when anything is modified/added on my Laptop or do I have to copy the files from the Skydrive folder to the original folders?

    • Chris Hoffman
      October 21, 2012 at 8:16 pm

      Yes, that should work -- but only if you make the links on each computer. In other words, you need to use the same SkyShellEx action or the mklink command on each computer.

      Of course, it's possible that this may not work, there may be an issue with SkyDrive -- but this is how it should work.

      Yes, it's a little bit complicated -- but Microsoft doesn't really support this officially.

  7. HLJonnalagadda
    September 25, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Excellent! Got a 25 gig SkyDrive account..

  8. Daniel Krebs
    July 29, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Very productive guide

  9. kevin gnanaraj
    July 28, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    SkyShell doesn't seem to work for me...I don't have it in the context menu, and I'm sure I downloaded the right version.
    How do you undo the Junction and do you have to add the "\Folder"? If yes, what happens if you don't?

    • Chris Hoffman
      August 1, 2012 at 10:11 am

      You can undo the junction point by deleting it. For example, if you create a junction point named "JunctionFolder" in the SkyDrive folder, just delete the folder named "JunctionFolder" in the SkyDrive folder. This won't actually delete the files elsewhere on your system -- think of the junction point like a special shortcut. Deleting it just deletes the shortcut.

      I don't believe it will work if you don't add the \Folder because the SkyDrive folder already exists -- you'll see an error. Theoretically you could delete the SkyDrive folder and create a junction point at the SkyDrive folder's location, but you may see unexpected behavior -- this is already unsupported, and this is just asking for trouble. It may work, but SkyDrive may not be happy about this.

  10. Justin
    July 28, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    SkyShellEx doesn't work with folders on a network. I have some folders on my NAS I wanted to sync to skydrive using the skyshellex but it doesn't seem to work with those folders.

    • Chris Hoffman
      August 1, 2012 at 10:07 am

      Too bad. You could try the manual command method -- it may just be that SkyDrive doesn't work with these folders.

      • Marco Kobi
        October 17, 2012 at 5:29 pm

        This does not work, because Skydrive yet does not support nas-drives. I hope MS will clear this out, when Win8 is coming. At the moment, with this issue, Skydrive does not make sense for me.


        • Chris Hoffman
          October 21, 2012 at 8:14 pm

          That's unfortunate. People needing NAS support will definitely want to use another service. Luckily, there are many options.

        • Marco Kobi
          October 22, 2012 at 4:35 pm

          And which service do you propose? Thanks for your answer.

        • Chris Hoffman
          October 22, 2012 at 5:27 pm

          I don't use NAS so I'm not sure, but Google Drive and Dropbox both seem to support it, from the bit of Googling I did.

  11. Bruce Lemieux
    July 26, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Thanks for the info. All of these cloud-folder-sync solutions seem to be frustratingly complex. I sync folders between PCs with Mesh and wanted to simply select a folder to sync on Skydrive. It's not working, so I'm guessing that this folder needs to be "in a special place" to make this happen -- what a pain.

    • Chris Hoffman
      August 1, 2012 at 10:06 am

      Hm, did you try the solution in the article? It should work, worked for me -- of course, it's not officially supported.

  12. April Alboc
    July 21, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Great article, I think I actually prefer SkyDrive to Google Drive. But both equally work just as well.

    • Chris Hoffman
      August 1, 2012 at 10:06 am

      Interesting, why do you prefer SkyDrive? More storage space?

  13. Ramón García
    July 19, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Interesting extension... I didn't know about it

  14. Shawn Ashree Baba
    July 17, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    SkyDrive is great! It has been very useful for me getting everything that I have integrated.

  15. ferdinan Sitohang
    July 17, 2012 at 4:06 am

    I have skydrive, but never use it, now i will use it, through find interesting tutorial written here

  16. John Buxbaum
    July 16, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    I love having as many of these 'cloud' sharing accounts as possible. it lets you share files easily with your friends. It's much better to share photos with your family this way than emailing - and they get the full version of your photo for printing..

    • Chris Hoffman
      July 17, 2012 at 12:58 am

      It's certainly more convenient than emailing attachments all over the place!

  17. Muhammad Ahmad
    July 15, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    SkyDrive is getting famous now.

    • Chris Hoffman
      July 17, 2012 at 12:57 am

      It probably would have gotten more buzz if they hadn't released it the day before Google Drive was released.

  18. Irshaad Abdool
    July 15, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Skydrive is being deployed on more and more platforms. unfortunately, it is not available on symbian OS for mobile :/

    • Chris Hoffman
      July 17, 2012 at 12:56 am

      Yup, I wouldn't expect it to come to Symbian either -- Nokia's putting Symbian out to pasture. SugarSync has a Symbian client, though -- or so I've heard.

  19. Dorfmeister Vazquez
    July 14, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    I prefer Skydrive.I can upload 300mb max filesize, and I use 20/25 Gb.
    sync option with sde explorer sounds great... ?

    • Chris Hoffman
      July 17, 2012 at 12:56 am

      It is a lot of free space if you managed to keep the 25GB! Sadly, new users won't get that.

      • Dorfmeister Vazquez
        July 17, 2012 at 2:28 am

        yes there´s a lot of free space usage.
        I feel afortunate for that. I´m Skydrive user since 2008

  20. Thomas
    July 14, 2012 at 8:32 am

    So, do you know any way to sync only specific files/folders (like Dropbox)? When I install SkyDrive it's syncs all files and folders but I want to sync only specific ones!

    • Chris Hoffman
      July 17, 2012 at 12:55 am

      Nope, I don't think you can control that -- sorry! Microsoft will have to add this.

      • Max
        August 6, 2012 at 11:54 pm

        This is very bad news, because as an example I dont wish to bring dont personal files and picture on my work computer. Selective syncing is nothing new with dropbox, google drive, time MS steps up. Also the lack of detail of the sync process, like what dropbox provides is a must as well. Hope these come very soon.

        • Chris Hoffman
          August 7, 2012 at 7:34 am

          You can use two separate accounts, although that isn't the most ideal solution.

  21. Prashanth Hegde
    July 13, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Beware of creating symbolic links.

    If you uninstall the skydrive app from your computer, it does not just uninstall, but takes away all the files which are in the symlinks.
    I had a really horrible experience with it.

    Please remove the symlinks first if you ever plan to uninstall Skydrive app.

    • Chris Hoffman
      July 17, 2012 at 12:54 am

      Yikes! Thanks for the warning. I knew it was unsupported, but that's just scary

    • Jobs
      October 29, 2012 at 5:11 pm

      I have uninstalled SkyDrive now, it did not take away any files from my computer.

      • Prashanth
        October 29, 2012 at 5:32 pm

        Microsoft updated skydrive on Aug 14 2012. This update removed the bug I mentioned above.
        I should have come back and updated this reply. But the same behavior does not happen with the new skydrive update.

        • Chris Hoffman
          November 7, 2012 at 10:32 am

          Good thing they fixed that. Sounds like a really nasty bug.