Windows Live Skydrive & 3 Alternative Online Storage Services

Laurence John 15-04-2008

Well, I must say I am coming to the conclusion that the Windows Live Initiative is becoming one of the best things to come out of Microsoft in years.


In a series of articles, I hope to cover Windows Live in a greater amount of detail then you may have seen before. I am aware that Make Use Of has previously covered several services (such as Live Writer and SkyDrive), so I am going to avoid simply giving a run-down of features. You already know it.

No what I hope to do is really give you a great deal more detail on fully integrating Windows Live and maximising your experience. These articles will include tips, hacks, reviews and most importantly the comparisons between Live Services and its competitors.

Windows Live SkyDrive

The first service I thought I would start with is SkyDrive. SkyDrive delivers a satisfactory online file storage and sharing solution in a free and easy to use service. It has a design that is both attractive and functional.

Windows SkyDrive Screenshot

However I can’t help but notice some of the complaints people have expressed so far about the service. These include the 50MB file size limit and that the service is useless due to the fact their particular photo/video/music collection is larger then 5GB. Just remember this is free, and no-one is making you use it.


Moreover instead of just loading up on features, Microsoft is taking the approach used by Apple; aesthetically pleasing products that are designed with ease of use in mind. So yes, there are limitations, but weigh them up against the benefits and see if it’s worth the trade off. I love using it for the easy access, sharing capabilities and rapid sign-up through your Windows ID.

But I know, there are many of you who are not big Microsoft fans, and even more for whom SkyDrive just may not be the service you are looking for. If you’re one of those people, I have found three alternative free storage solutions. Why just three? Well this list is by no means comprehensive, so please forgive me If I have missed a popular one. What I have tried to do instead is to choose services which can be distinguished through their unique focus.

Skydrive Alternatives




ADrive – Yes, ADrive is light years in front of its competitors when it comes to free storage capacity. The closest anyone else gets to it is MediaMax which offers 25GB.

Windows Live Skydrive & 3 Alternative Online Storage Services adrive 50gb storage

So what’s the catch?

That was the first thing I thought. Either this just a ploy to attract a large user base before reducing the offer, or it’s just some sort of scam. But surprisingly after I clicked ‘signup’ there was no request for billing details.

This really is 50GB free storage, no catches. If you can believe them, they state they will not be reducing the storage amount in the future and are simply aiming to provide the largest storage space available.


However ADrive is simply… a drive. So don’t expect it to much in the way of sharing features, or even features in general. Essentially you upload a file from your computer and store in the directories. You may make files available for public access by moving it into the sharing directory, but that’s about it. It isn’t ‘pretty’, and it doesn’t try to be. It is just a place for you to archive a lot of data and media in case of emergencies, and it is very good for that.

So if you are the type of person who wants to back up their complete photo, video and music library then this might be the service for you. Grab a account and upload away!


ESnips is the ‘Myspace’ of online storage, meaning it has been designed as a service to share and network with your files and friends. It is also the most generally feature filled service that I have reviewed here. The focus of ESnips is to share your files with people who have similar interests and hobbies.


Organisation is also a much larger component of ESnips and you will notice this when you begin uploading files. Each file can be given a name, a description and a series of tags. This is how you will locate your own and other associated files uploaded by other users.

You do have private folders, but the incentive here is to share your files with your friends and anyone else. The navigation bar gives you a range of communities to choose from when browsing public files. Not only that, you can create favourite folders, playlists and slideshows of videos, images and music.

This also reminds me, most of the MP3 search engines that are out there use eSnips as a source.


Divshare doesn’t stand out as far as storage goes, it provides 5GB like SkyDrive, but it does have a much greater emphasis on integrating your files into your own personal pages and networks for streaming and viewing.


Divshare has a wealth of sharing features and even specific integration for Facebook, WordPress and the iPhone. They also provide the DivShare API for developers to use on their own sites.

There is a 200MB maximum file size upload limit and a 50GB download limit. The service is ad-supported with upgrades to silver, gold and platinum accounts.

When it comes to streaming your music, images and video then DivShare is the way to go. After uploading your files it provides you with a page of codes that you can use to insert your files onto a page, post or website, wherever that may be.

I hope that my first article on MakeUseOf has helped you find a online storage solution. Even if you weren’t looking for a solution, maybe now you have a reason to! Drop me some comments and tell me what you think about SkyDrive or online storage in general.

Related topics: Cloud Storage, Microsoft, Windows Live.

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  1. stephen
    January 13, 2015 at 10:11 am

    mozy is also a good device and recently i have come across basefolder( which has unique feature as your files are saved in your home system and it can be accessed by anywhere by using basefolder.

  2. milan
    January 16, 2010 at 5:21 am

    Much better if there was an Operating System that is online. Imagine this service with the mobile client, would have windows on your mobile as a remote access.

  3. Michael
    December 13, 2009 at 10:56 am

    It's worth mentioning that [Broken Link Removed] offers easy Explorer-integrated access to Skydrive accounts.

  4. Encryption software
    October 28, 2009 at 10:04 am

    First off, I had no idea about A-Drive, but it sounds fantastic and I will definitely be checking it out.

    My main reason for commenting is to question why these sites, like MS and even Google, give you all this space and then limit you to such puny file sizes. You touched on it in the article but I would have loved to see it elaborated on. I mean, how dare they tout this service as being for video storage and then give us only 50mb per file? The least they could do is keep that limit to themselves, while accepting our larger files and cutting them up into smaller segments behind the scenes. This kind of small file size limitation is ideal for photos, but for video storage? Unless they expect us to crush every video we have into FLVs, it just seems impractical. Thanks for the post, I enjoyed it.

    • Peter
      November 24, 2009 at 1:04 am

      I totally agree. SkyDrive is useless to me because of this. USELESS. Wish ADrive had a way to be mapped as a drive on my PC.

  5. Tim Acheson
    October 27, 2009 at 9:39 am

    I reccomend SkYDrive. It's free, all you need is a Hotmail or Windows Live account and that's free too.

    I even use it to host and "stream" video on my blog:-

    SkyDrive serves video extremely fast, and any other file type too!

    The next level up from SkyDrive is Azure, starting with Azure Storage. There is no official storage limit on Azure, but anecdotal evidence indicates hundreds of terabytes.

    • Pax
      November 12, 2009 at 2:22 pm

      I followed your Azure link. Seems that right now it's free but they'll start billing soon:

      * Compute = $0.12 / hour
      * Storage = $0.15 / GB stored / month
      * Storage Transactions = $0.01 / 10K
      * Bandwidth = $0.10 in / $0.15 out / GB

      [Broken Link Removed]

      It's more a platform for web applications aimed at enterprise users and the web 2.0 crowd.

  6. Bob
    July 13, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Hey, thanks for the info.

  7. contra atheist
    May 19, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    BFD.. without FTP (THE way to upload files) or webDAV these services are almost entirely useless

    • cyber
      September 24, 2009 at 1:29 am

      That is a great point. So, what online file storage solution does? What do you use? Thank you.

  8. Karthik
    January 5, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    For Photos , use SnapFish.
    They give unlimited storage and Really Faaaast Uploads and Downloads....

    • Angry Apple User
      September 24, 2009 at 1:27 am

      oops, maybe you are a real person and not Microsoft... if so, I'm sorry Karthik...

  9. Karthik
    January 5, 2009 at 3:20 pm


    Hope everyone are aware about Windows SkyDrive now....
    They are giving you 25GB Space for Free!!!!!!!!!
    That too secured with 128 Bit encryption...
    I can challenge , you will never find a Secure and High Storage Capacity site like SkyDrive...
    More over its MicroSoft, we can trust them...
    Not like AOL who have shut down X Drive....
    ONLY drawback in SkyDrive is 50MB Upload/File....
    But HJ Split will help you.... to do this...

    • Angry Apple User
      September 24, 2009 at 1:25 am

      Yes, we remember Microsoft. They dropped support for HOW MANY products for Macs?? -- uh, like Microsoft Explorer!!! Fuck Microsoft. (this comment directed towards Karthik, uh microsoft).

      BUT, great article, I am checking out the 3 alternatives. Thank you.

      • Misha
        February 3, 2010 at 5:03 am

        Well, AAU, who needs and wants IE on a Mac anyway? Firefox is out there, somewhere..

  10. Jack
    December 21, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    Look at [Broken URL Removed] for online backup with bulk transfer, unattended backup, and AES 128-bit encryption for security. All of this plus the most advanced public and private sharing on the net. Their sharing options are unique in that you can move data between accounts without upload / download - no one else has that.

  11. RolfJ
    July 15, 2008 at 2:37 am

    Thanks for the article!

    Adrive is free in the basic version. If you want encryption you can get it at a price of some 60 $ per year which seems rather fair.

    I am really looking for a complete web based environment - something like Google Docs but better.

    Almost like having a thin client or a tiny Linux like Puppy just too boot up and get access to everything.

    Also a little like StumbleUpon and others only I would like it to be private and share only what I want to share.

    Let me know if you have seen something like this.

  12. Eric Lin
    June 9, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    Mozy ( ) is nice too, with 2GB free storage, and you can schedule automatic backup using its program. However, it is not for Linux users.

  13. Del
    April 23, 2008 at 2:42 am

    if i haven't missed it, has anybody developed something similar to the gdrive shell for skydrive? i want to archive hundreds of small files, which is a pain using the browse-uploader.

  14. ADrive Admin
    April 17, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Heads up from the ADrive Team. Right now we are in Beta version. However, keep your eyes open for a new release in the next month or so. Our plan is to release paid services which includes but is not limited to larger account sizes, WebDAV, client backup, and SSL encryption. Keep in mind that a free account now will always be a free account. We do not expire data or accounts. Our only upload/download limits are 2GB per file. That is an ISP industry standard for their protection. Thanks for all your support. -ADrive Team

    • Jeanne
      April 19, 2008 at 2:50 pm

      I have tried several times now, on two computers (one Windows, one Mac), to sign up for an ADrive account. Each time, I get a message that the State field cannot be left blank. In each chase, New York shows clearly in the field. And it's a drop down menu, so there's only one way to fill in the field. What's the problem with this? I wrote earlier this week about this, and have received no response.

  15. Zia
    April 17, 2008 at 4:25 am

    Anybody tried

    Unlimited (yes you read it right!) storage.

  16. Russ
    April 16, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    I like very much. You can upload files less than 100 MB, which isn't much storage, but you can password protect them and share files with friends. For example, if you upload a video, you can store it to with optional password protection so other people can't download it.

  17. Renee
    April 16, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Do they offer ftp uploading?

  18. kpdriscoll
    April 16, 2008 at 7:04 am

    What about Google Docs and Google Apps? Though not pure file storage, they are essentially online file storage, assuming you work in doc, xls, or ppt data. There are also plug-ins that configure your gmail as a "G Drive." Not even a mention with such praise for MS in the same article?

    • Laurence John
      April 17, 2008 at 12:16 am

      Well yes these where dedicated storage services, I think you will find those google services have already been covered on Makeuseof.

    • Del
      April 23, 2008 at 2:38 am

      docs is definitely one of the best things i've seen happen to word processing. i prefer originating and storing my documents there since it supports (among other extensions) pdf download. and its always available wherever i have net access, so rarely do you see me toting a flash drive anymore.

    • cyber
      September 24, 2009 at 1:15 am

      How many people only, or even mostly, work in doc, xls, or ppt files? Really only some very small businesses. It is a problem I can't figure out how to store logos, photos, web page backups, and other necessary business stuff.

      And the ways to use Gmail to store files is way too confusing to store stuff in general. Every file is a different email?? Trying to sync stuff that isn't in a list in alphabetical order?? It is crazy confusing. Great for certain purposes, but for online storage that one can easily access and edit? Only if you're like a genius or something.

      Mozy is great as backup, BUT it isn't like A Space, it isn't file storage -- because you can't upload and download individual files when you need to edit them. You can only contact Mozy after a disaster/hard drive crash and they have to get you the download. Fair enough, it is a backup service, BUT it is not a file storage solution.

      Okay, my observations, thanks for great user comments & article!

  19. Abhijeet from Jeet Blog
    April 16, 2008 at 2:50 am

    These storage options are good but some other options worth a mention are and AOL's Xdrive. I am of high praise for because of its simplicity and the way it helps you manage your data. Also don't forget that Mozy provides a small free backup too.
    Overall this was an informative post.

  20. Nxqd3051990
    April 15, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Why not mention about ? I think it's great. Download speed is very fast and upload too :)

  21. magnoliasouth
    April 15, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Excellent post! I have been searching high and low for a decent storage site and I just signed up with A Drive. I'm very happy with its simplicity and massive storage space. Definitely the place for my important files. I just hope they don't dot com die.

    • Laurence John
      April 16, 2008 at 11:13 pm

      Thanks mate. Yep, after reviewing those I have ended up using the ADrive as my main online backup for photos and all that...

  22. Alek Davis
    April 15, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Be careful with MediaMax: while it gives you 25 GB of free storage, downloading of files larger than 10 MB (or something like this) requires a paid account. I was burnt by MediaMax when I uploaded a few files and then could not download them (for free). I this it's sneaky of MediaMax not to warn users about this limitation. Once I moved to ADrive, I could not be happier. And I agree with Aibek: ADrive is not meant for secure storage, although the fact that many of the Web 2.0 sites do not offer SSL even for authentication is troublesome.

  23. Devesh
    April 15, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    You probably want to check out too... nifty lil way to have "syncable" online storage that ties in with your file system!

    BTW isn't SkyDrive, FolderShare?


  24. Peter
    April 15, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    ADrive sure gives you a huge amount of space and the price is right, but even for free I'm not sure I'd use it. They seem to offer absolutely no security options at all. No file encryption, no SSL connections, nothing. I can't think of too many files I'd want floating out there with absolutely no security.

    • Aibek
      April 15, 2008 at 7:44 pm

      I don't think ADrive is meant for secure file storage. It more looks like a place for keeping/sharing large number of media files.

    • Laurence John
      April 16, 2008 at 9:30 am

      Yeah its great for just for basic bulk storage, stuff you arn't too worried about. Bute yeah... I really wouldn't be confident about the companies longetivity.