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Here's a way to get your own little piece of the cloud for free. Microsoft is now offering 5GB of free online storage through Windows Live Skydrive. Are we sensing a little bit of the Christmas giving spirit?

We first saw the SkyDrive offer when we were reviewing the new face of Windows Live. Included as part of their new social features, SkyDrive provides you a virtual drive in the cloud to store and share your documents. If you need to travel a lot or work between home and the office, this feature may just interest you.

Creating Folders for Storage

There are three types of folders you can create on your SkyDrive:
  • Personal: Create personal folders for content only you can access
  • Shared: Share documents with your friends by creating a Shared folder
  • Public: Create public folders that anyone on the internet can access

Shared Folders

To create Shared Folders, the people you have to have access must also have a Windows Live Account. By default, when creating a share folder you see a list of people in your Messenger list (if you have one). You can select from this list and/or add to it by adding an email address of the person you want to have access. You can also identify these people as having read-only access or editor access. These people will get an email with a link to the folder.

Public Folders

If you mark a folder as public, you are basically saying anyone on the internet can view and read the contents within it, but they can't make changes.

Accessing Your SkyDrive

You can access your SkyDrive from anywhere you can connect to the internet and by using more than just Internet Explorer. Access to SkyDrive is available using FireFox 1.5 and up, as well as IE6and up -- on Windows or a Mac. When we took SkyDrive for a test drive it wasn't working very well. We could create folders and add documents, but the Sharing functionality wasn't working and we couldn't add new people not on our Messenger list. A little disappointing and perhaps a little concerning. What if we wanted to share some sensitive documents? We need to be this functionality is working completely before that road is taken. Then again SkyDrive is probably more for personal use and not business.