When was the last time you had to delete a bunch of photos or apps on your mobile device to clear out space? With the massive amount of data generated every day, it’s easy to exhaust all the available storage on your phone or tablet.
And this problem is only getting worse. Industry trends suggest that device storage capacities are growing at 25 percent per year, but the amount of data being produced is increasing even faster — by around 50 percent a year, according to Microsoft. The software giant is looking to address this problem with SkyDrive, which will be updated in Windows 8.1 with the goal of giving you access to your files at all times, without taking up all your available storage or Internet bandwidth.
The updated service utilizes what Microsoft refers to as “placeholder files,” which look and feel like normal folders and files with one major change — you don’t download the full file until you access it. The placeholder file contains just a thumbnail image and some basic properties, making it significantly smaller than its actual size. This means that 100GB of files in SkyDrive will use up less than 5GB of storage on the hard drive of your Windows 8.1 device, Mona Akmal.
“I have a Pictures folder in SkyDrive that’s 5.6GB in size but it’s only taking up 185MB on the local disk,” Akmal wrote.
Another major change to SkyDrive in Windows 8.1 deals with offline access to files. With the SkyDrive app, you’ll now be able to mark any folders or files you want remain available when you lose Internet connectivity.
Any edits you make to a file while offline will automatically be synced back up to SkyDrive when you regain a connection. For added convenience, all the files you open or edit on your device will automatically be marked for offline access.
As a reminder, new SkyDrive users get 7GB of storage for free. After that, an additional 20GB costs $10 per year, while 50GB will set you back $25 a year, and 100GB costs $50 a year.
We sat down with Angus Logan, group product marketing manager for SkyDrive (pictured below), last week to get the scoop on the most important changes to the online storage service in Windows 8.1.