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When Microsoft chose to develop SkyDrive to compete with other cloud services, many users thought upgrading to Windows 8 would bring them closer to SkyDrive integration. This couldn’t have been further from the truth until now. Windows 8.1 brings true SkyDrive integration to the latest Windows OS.

As the Web becomes increasingly cloud-centric, Windows 8 seemed to fall behind compared to other brands that seamlessly integrated the cloud into their products and services. Windows 8 merely let users take advantage of SkyDrive; Windows 8.1 fully integrates SkyDrive the way it should’ve been when users first upgraded or bought Windows 8.

We’ll take a look at the changes to SkyDrive and how this makes Windows 8.1 even better. SkyDrive itself works the same, these are just upgrades and improvements on the service within Windows 8.1.

SEE ALSO: How To Sync Your Settings in Windows 8 to Access Them Anywhere

SkyDrive From The Get Go

Whether you upgrade or install Windows 8.1, you’ll be asked if you want to turn SkyDrive on from the get go.

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While you are asked this in Windows 8, you’re limited to what you can do through the use of the SkyDrive Windows 8 app. In Windows 8.1, SkyDrive is installed by default and ready to use as soon as you turn it on.

This allows you to save, sync and even utilize SkyDrive offline. You can set SkyDrive as your default save location on your PC now, too.

Full Native SkyDrive Integration

You no longer need an app or desktop client to utilize SkyDrive in Windows 8.1. It comes built-in to the upgrade through Windows 8.1 whether you turn it on or off. It’s always there, ready to be utilized.

You can now access SkyDrive through Windows Explorer for easy dragging and dropping.

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You’re given full access to your SkyDrive folders so you can easily drag and drop files or folders into the cloud. While this may not be the most efficient way to use SkyDrive, it works for those who want manual control over what is synced and what is not.

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When you open SkyDrive in Windows 8.1, you’ll see the familiar layout it’s always had in Windows 8.

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You can navigate between your PC and SkyDrive by clicking the “Drop Down Arrow.”

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When you click on any file or folder within SkyDrive, you’ll have access to a more functional right-click menu.

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The left-hand side of that menu allows you to do a variety of things, such as delete, cut, copy or open with a specific program.

This is also where you can make a file or folder online or offline.

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The right-hand side of the menu allows you to add items, create folders and view thumbnails of files.

The Offline Mode in SkyDrive

You’re able to access files and folders in offline mode in SkyDrive. Anytime you’re connected to the Internet, your files and folders will be synced to the cloud. The last time they were synced will be available for you to work with or access in SkyDrive

If you right-click on any file or folder in your SkyDrive folders through the Windows Explorer, you’re able to toggle on or off offline mode.

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Offline mode can be toggled on and off to save space, especially on Windows RT devices where space can run out quickly. By leaving a file or folder in online mode, data will be saved only in the cloud which saves that space on your device.

Now, when you choose to open a file from SkyDrive – if it’s in online mode – it’ll automatically be set to an offline mode for you to use it. When finished, you’ll need to turn it back to online mode to save it the cloud only. Hopefully, this functionality will be improved upon in the future so it doesn’t seem like such a hassle.

SkyDrive Settings

Within the new PC settings app in Windows 8.1, you can work directly with the SkyDrive settings.

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Under PC settings, click on “SkyDrive.”

You have three areas to work with: Storage space, Files and Sync settings.

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Storage space shows you how much space you’re currently using in SkyDrive. You’re given 7 GB to start with for free from Microsoft. If you want to purchase more, you can by clicking “Buy more storage.”

Under the Files settings for SkyDrive, you can control how SkyDrive saves files and folders to the cloud.

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The first setting allows you to make SkyDrive the default save location for new documents. This can be an extremely effective way to backup files you use on a daily basis. Toggling this “On” turns the feature on immediately and any new documents you need to save will be automatically saved to SkyDrive as opposed to your PC.

SkyDrive offers users who utilize a digital camera or mobile phone to save photos directly to SkyDrive through its Camera Roll folder.

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You can enable this feature from here, if necessary. You can also automatically upload your videos, too. However, keep in mind that high-quality photos and videos take up a lot of storage space in the cloud. If you’re an avid photographer or video taker, you may need to purchase more storage space before enabling these features.

Depending on the type of Internet connection you may be using, you may want to limit how much you upload and download to SkyDrive.

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You can opt to turn on or off this feature over metered connections to save yourself from hitting your data cap.

The Sync settings allow you to choose the type of automatic data you save to SkyDrive. This includes your Microsoft Account settings which can be useful for logging onto Windows 8 or 8.1 on another PC using the OS.

The first set of Sync settings lets you turn on the settings sync.

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From there, you can set which Personalization settings you sync to SkyDrive. That’ll all depend on your level of Windows customization.

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App settings allow you to save your apps and custom settings from them.

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Other settings let you save everything from Web browser data to language preferences to miscellaneous Windows settings.

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Again, you can go through each of these settings to sync and choose which ones are the most valuable to your Windows experience elsewhere.

By tinkering with the settings in SkyDrive in Windows 8.1, you can truly get the most out of the new SkyDrive integration that truly puts Windows users into the cloud.

How To Disable SkyDrive Completely In Windows 8.1

If you don’t want to use SkyDrive after enabling it, there’s no way to truly uninstall it from Windows 8.1. Even if you turn off the sync settings like we showed above, SkyDrive will still appear in Windows 8.1.

By editing the Local Group Policy for SkyDrive, you can not only prevent it from syncing but prevent it from being available in Windows 8.1. It’ll still be “there,” but it won’t be accessible until you reverse the changes in the Local Group Policy Editor.

Head to the Windows 8.1 Start screen and search for “Run.”

Click “Run.”

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Then, type in:

gpedit.msc

Now, navigate to the following area in the Local Group Policy Editor:

Local Computer Policy\Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\SkyDrive

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Right-click on “Prevent the usage of SkyDrive for file storage.”

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Click on “Edit.”

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Then, click “Enabled,” followed by “Apply” and “OK” to disable SkyDrive in Windows 8.1.

Keep in mind, this will stop all forms of SkyDrive sync on your PC, including backing up your Windows 8.1 settings which will become unavailable if you log into your Microsoft Account on another Windows 8.1 computer.

Troubleshooting SkyDrive Issues

SkyDrive Continues To Sync After Turning Sync Off

This is a common problem with SkyDrive in Windows 8.1. If you find that files or folders are still syncing after turning sync off in the settings, you’ll need to manually mark each file or folder as online only. This will stop them from downloading according to Microsoft.

SkyDrive App No Longer Works in Windows 8.1

This is working as intended. Since SkyDrive is now integrated into Windows 8.1, there’s no real need for a desktop app for SkyDrive anymore.

Conclusion

This level of SkyDrive integration is another aspect of Windows 8 that was sorely lacking until now. There’s no telling why Microsoft released what seemed like an incomplete OS and is only now just catching up on fixes. The SkyDrive integration in Windows 8.1 is a step in the right direction for Windows 8 as well as Microsoft’s SkyDrive service.

Please Note: Windows 8.1 and SkyDrive’s integration in it is still in its testing phases. You may run into issues using the preview, so make sure to not only backup your files via SkyDrive but use another method as well for maximum security.