Jonathan Hassell who runs 82 Ventures, a consulting firm based out of Charlotte, NC tries to clear up confusion about exactly what SkyDrive Pro and SkyDrive really are for CIO.com. He explains that the Microsoft (MSFT) branding machine confuses perfectly good and functional software with names that are impossible to parse. So tries to define exactly what each service is and what their limitations are.
SkyDrive Pro – is a business storage space for individual users. The author says SkyDrive Pro is a feature and capability that comes from a SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise license—a license that you can buy either to run on servers in your own data center premises or access through a subscription to Office 365 on a monthly or annual basis.
SkyDrive Pro is available in the data center or the cloud and functions the same either you run it. The article stresses the key part to remember is that it is a function of SharePoint and nothing else. It has absolutely no relationship to the free service of a very similar name that’s discussed below. The blog presents several key points to remember when thinking about SkyDrive Pro:
- SkyDrive Pro is essentially a replacement to the old My Site feature that was available within SharePoint 2010 and 2013. It’s a place for users to store files they might want to share with others in the future. For instance, you might be working on a budget spreadsheet that needs constant updating, so you could save a copy to your SkyDrive Pro location and invite other users to read, view and update that copy on their own.
- With SkyDrive Pro on Office 365, each user gets 7 GB of space that is not counted against the overall SharePoint storage quota that is part of the plan you pay for. For SharePoint Server 2013 on-premises installations, administrators can configure the SkyDrive Pro space quota on an individual basis. While you can buy add-on space to pool more available gigabytes for your overall SharePoint sites and workspaces on Office 365, you can’t buy more storage to extend SkyDrive Pro spaces.
- There is a SkyDrive Pro client application, but at this point it’s available only as part of the Office 2013 suite. If you don’t have an Office 2013 license, you’re forced to use SkyDrive Pro through the browser just like most of your interactions with other parts of the SharePoint product.
- The SkyDrive Pro client application behaves like the old SharePoint Workspace client application. It synchronizes the online content with an offline cache so you can still access files, documents and other objects from the site just like you were online, even if you are stuck without a connection somewhere.
- SkyDrive Pro works only for Windows and Web browsers. There are no native client applications for other operating systems.
The CIO.com article states that SkyDrive Pro is definitely not a free-for-all when it comes to data storage. Microsoft has imposed the following limitations:
- In your SkyDrive Pro library, you can synchronize up to 20,000 items, including folders and files;
- No single file can be greater than 250 MB in size;
- You can download files up to 2 GB from your library.
If you’re running Office 2013 you can remove the hooks within Windows Explorer that expose the space. Just issue the following command at the elevated administrative command prompt:
regsvr32 /u “%programfiles%\Microsoft Office\Office15\GROOVEEX.DLL”
SkyDrive — referred to by Mr. Hassell as SkyDrive Free to prevent confusion, is a consumer service provided by Microsoft that works a lot like Dropbox. It provides up to 7 GB of free cloud storage where users can upload files that are then accessible from either a Web browser or any Internet connected device where the right client side extensions are installed. The article notes that consumers can part with some money for even more space above what’s allowed on the free tier.
These client extensions are available for the Windows desktop, through the Windows Store (for Windows 8 and Windows RT devices), for the Windows Phone and on Apple (AAPL) iOS, Google (GOOG) Android and Mac OS devices.
To make things even more confusing, according to the author, users who subscribe to Office 365 Home Premium plans get an extra 20 GB of SkyDrive Free storage space. Office 365 Home Premium, despite being an Office 365 product/service, has nothing to do with SkyDrive Pro. This extra SkyDrive Free space is not granted to any other Office 365 subscription plan—and there’s currently no way to increase the SkyDrive Pro space on Office 365 beyond the 7 GB quota. The blog offers a few takeaways when thinking about SkyDrive Free:
- There’s no corporate control over what’s stored on SkyDrive Free. Other than preventing the client extensions from being installed on corporate-owned devices and blocking access to skydrive.com from your Internet connection, there’s no other way IT can control what a user stores on SkyDrive Free.
- In Office 2013, SkyDrive Free is the default location where users are prompted to save documents and other objects. SkyDrive Pro spaces are not the default.
- SkyDrive Free has absolutely nothing to do with SharePoint, won’t work with either SharePoint Workspace 2010 or SkyDrive Pro client applications, and can be used by shops that have no link to SharePoint whatsoever, even all-Mac shops with no Windows machines at all.
- Finally, SkyDrive Free does not support advanced functionality such as document versioning, file alerts, quick preview and deeper Office client integration. That’s all exclusively reserved for SkyDrive Pro spaces.
Mr. Hassell concludes that the idea behind both SkyDrive services is the same—a place to store documents, files and other things so they’re available from multiple places. But SkyDrive Pro is clearly oriented at businesses and provides enterprise features that are useful for collaboration, while SkyDrive Free is a consumer service available to anyone, for free, across a variety of platforms.