You need a secure place in which to store important files? An easy way to provide file access to other users, no matter where they go? You need a way to access your documents, spreadsheets, and photos from any location and from any computer, but you do not want to spend a ton of money?

If any or all of these scenarios sound familiar to you, then you need to check out Windows Live SkyDrive.

What is Windows Live SkyDrive:

Wondering what exactly SkyDrive is?

It is a web-based application that enables you to upload, access and share all sorts of Microsoft Office files as well as photos, videos and other types of files –a whopping 25GB of space. Your files are password protected and secure, enabling you to completely control who can access them and even which files each user can retrieve.

Since it is a cloud application, you can free up your system files knowing that you can still use the files you need whenever you need them. Not only that, but the program is free of charge and easy to use.

How to Get SkyDrive:


Part of the beauty of Windows Live SkyDrive is that you do not need to download any software. Simply go to the login page at If you already have a Windows Live ID that you use for a Hotmail or Windows Live Messenger account, simply sign in using that email address and password to begin setting up and using SkyDrive. If you do not yet have an ID, creating one is easy.

Click the Sign-Up button on the login page. Choose a user name and password, enter the basic identifying information and accept the service agreement.  Once you log in or create a Windows Live ID, your SkyDrive account opens.

Setting Up SkyDrive:


Upon logging in to your SkyDrive account, you will see a toolbar with the options New, Add Files, View Synced Folders and Options. Beneath the toolbar is a My Documents folder, which will initially be empty, a Favorites link, where you can add links to your favorite websites, and a Photos link that you can use to create a photo album.

Uploading Files To SkyDrive:

Begin setup by uploading files that you want to store or share with others. Click Add Files on the toolbar and then select the folder in which you want to store the files. You can use the standard My Documents folder or click on New Folder to create and name a unique folder. This enables you to create folders based on criteria such as file type, the job the files pertain to or any other specifications you might have.

Adding files to your SkyDrive account is easy, and there are a couple of ways to do so. You can simply drag and drop files from your computer to the SkyDrive folder or, if you prefer, you can utilize the standard upload method in which you browse your computer for files and upload them to SkyDrive. With either method, you can upload multiple files at one time. When the upload is complete, click Continue to add the files to the folder.

Sharing SkyDrive Files:


Once you have successfully uploaded files to your Windows Live SkyDrive account, you can start sharing them right away. Go to the folder containing files you would like to share and click Share on the toolbar and select Edit Permissions.

Choose a permission level, from Everyone to Friends. You can also enter a name from your Windows Live contacts list or an email address to grant access to specific users. Choose whether those selected can simply view files or can edit, add and delete them as well. Click Save to apply these changes.

To notify others that you have granted them permission to access these files, click Share on the toolbar and select Send a Link. SkyDrive will send them an email with a link to the files selected. You have the added option of requiring your recipients to use a Windows Live ID in order to access the files. If you do not choose this option, anyone who receives the link can access it, which could be problematic if, for example, someone forwarded the notification email to others.

Other Windows Live SkyDrive Features:


In addition to a large amount of secure storage and the ability to share and access files from any location with web access, SkyDrive offers some other beneficial features. From the main page of your SkyDrive account, click New on the toolbar.

You will see that you can create a Word document, Excel workbook, PowerPoint presentation or OneNote notebook, even if you do not have these programs installed on the computer that you are using. Microsoft Office Web Apps, available via SkyDrive, are scaled-down versions of these popular programs.

With this bonus feature, not only can you upload and share files on SkyDrive, but you can create them there as well. What more could you ask for?