SkyDrive gives you full cloud syncing capabilities on Windows 8 but you have to go beyond the Metro app to experience it.
Get The Full Cloud Sync Experience With SkyDrive On Windows 8
SkyDrive is quite possibly one of the best features in Windows 8. It gives you deep cloud integration like no other platform. But to get really integrated with SkyDrive, you will have to go beyond the SkyDrive app that ships with Windows 8. This is the Metro app that comes with the package and it does not give you the kind of syncing powers that the SkyDrive desktop app can.
The SkyDrive desktop app comes with the Windows Essentials 2012 package that can be downloaded and installed for free from the Microsoft website. If you don’t want to download the entire package, just download the standalone package from the SkyDrive website. Using the SkyDrive desktop app you can sync up all your important documents and media files like images on to the cloud. And from there on you can sync them to all the PCs you log in to. Of course, they have to have Windows 8 on them.
The desktop app has an explorer-based interface for file management which the Metro app does not have. Once you have downloaded, installed and gone through the initial sign in process (use the same sign in as your Windows 8 account) and then choose a location for the SkyDrive. Once you are done setting up, it will sync up all your files. This will take some time to get done depending on your connection speed.
Anything you store in your SkyDrive can be synced up on any Windows 8 PC and device. So if you have a set of files you work on frequently, put them on SkyDrive. SkyDrive can recognize photos, music, videos and select document formats. However, you can store almost any file there and it will get synced up. You can easily make separate folders on SkyDrive and you can even replace your regular Documents and Pictures folders with SkyDrive folders. So if you have a SkyDrive folder set as your default Documents folder, every app that stores anything in the Documents folder will automatically do so in SkyDrive.
Now, Metro apps already have this ability. They can use your SkyDrive account to store settings, files, personalization photos and more. So not only Windows 8 but your third party apps will also remain in sync. But Desktop apps so far have no such feature. And since the Desktop seems to be on its way out, it will probably never get that feature. So using SkyDrive folders as the system folders will let you shoehorn that feature in to any Desktop app that stores its files in a customizable folder.
To do this, you will have to add your SkyDrive-based folders to the appropriate Windows libraries (Windows 8 uses the same libraries structure as in Windows 7). And then if you want, you can simply remove the default folders too and leave only the SkyDrive folders behind.
So if you want your documents to be in one place on SkyDrive, you have to remove your My Documents and Public Documents folder; then configure the Documents library to aggregate all your relevant files to a given SkyDrive folder like c:\username\SkyDrive\Documents. Almost all Windows applications will then use this folder by default. Almost, because some will still use My Documents folder and store files there. You will not have to worry about that though because My Documents still exists on your system and can be used as normal.
You can set your Pictures library to behave the same way. And here you can create a buffer area by retaining your My Pictures folder and accumulating your images there from your devices (phones, cameras). Then you can transfer only those that you want to your SkyDrive folder. Windows 8 already has a Photos app for doing something similar. This just gives you a refined control if you like to be hands on about it.
Using SkyDrive correctly, you can easily carry your world around you with you. Of course, you will have to be using Windows 8 to do that. But given the cheap upgrades that are coming up, it shouldn’t be too hard to switch, as long you don’t have ancient hardware.