Mar 17, 2010

ProveTextXSmallSome good open source solutions for Windows 7 have shown up, and more applications are being added all the time. One such discovery enables you to quickly integrate 25 Gb of storage capacity to your desktop system in just a few steps, completely free of charge.

Windows users may be familiar with the Live SkyDrive services, a cloud storage solution offered free to registered members of the Windows Live network.  SkyDrive is completely web-accessible, so storage can be accessed from any computer and from any operating system platform—Mac OS X, Linux, or older versions of Windows. There’s no denying that 25 Gb of free storage is a very good value, and its accessibility from anywhere is useful, particularly for road warriors.

As you can see in Figure 1, the SkyDrive interface is okay, in that it’s clear and intuitive. Where it bogs down is in the one-at-a-time upload interface. You have to select one file at a time with the file manager to upload to the online folders. It’d  be much for useful to have  a direct interface with Windows Explorer.

Figure 1: The SkyDrive Web Interface.

Figure 1: The SkyDrive Web Interface.

Using the WebDAV functionality in Windows Explorer, you can do just that.

But WebDAV isn’t always a congenial piece of software, and many users can be stymied by it, such as  figuring out what server address to enter to get to a SkyDrive.

This is where a small open source tool known as SkyDrive Simple Viewer comes in. Put together by developer Mike Plate and licensed under the Microsoft Public License, the Simple Viewer enables Windows 7 users to sign into their SkyDrives using their Live credentials, whereupon the software reports back the complete server information to access the folders within the user’s SkyDrive account.

The Simple Viewer is available on CodePlex, the Microsoft-sponsored code hosting site for open source projects. There are two versions of the Simple Viewer, a command-line version and a graphical version. For the purposes of this article, let’s walk through the GUI version.

Download the application’s ZIP file and save it to your system. Expand the contents of the ZIP file to any folder on your computer, then double-click the SkyDriveSimpleViewer app to start it (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: The SkyDrive Simple Viewer.

Figure 2: The SkyDrive Simple Viewer.

Enter your Live network credentials. If you haven’t registered for Live yet, visit the Sign Up page to get your ID. When you click Login to my SkyDrive, a report appears on each folder contained in your SkyDrive, as shown (redacted) in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Getting the Folder Info.

Figure 3: Getting the Folder Info.

For the purposes of this demo, let’s say the drive info for the Public folder returns as^2Public . Now, you just need to enter that information when you map a Network Drive. Just cut and paste the URL into the Folder field in the Map Network Drive dialog (shown in Figure 4).

Figure 4: Map to Your SkyDrive.

Figure 4: Map to Your SkyDrive.

You need to log in using your Live ID once during the process, but when you do, you will have a new network drive with 25 Gb of free space neatly integrated into Windows Explorer.

Which is a pretty good deal.

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