skydrive
Windows Live SkyDrive – Your Internet Hard Drive

One needs to be extremely careful when choosing an online file storage service because you never know how long will a company survive if they offer everything for free.

There’re so many examples to prove that. AOL is shutting down XDrive, OmniDrive disappeared overnight, DivShare blocked their users in Asia as they were not contributing to the bottom line and MediaMax closed abruptly without letting users download their existing files.

Now Microsoft has introduced an upgraded version of Live SkyDrive, a free online file storage service, that looks like a perfect choice at the moment for several reasons.

1. You get 25 GB of free online storage space for your documents, photos, and all other files – the previous limit was 5 GB.

2. You have the option to download an entire folder on SkyDrive as a local zip file – huge time saver.

3. You can upload files to SkyDrive through Windows Explorer itself through Gladinet – it’s just like mapping a folder on the network drive.

4. SkyDrive is like a social network for files. You can see files that your friends have shared on SkyDrive through your own Live Profile page (similar to Friend updates in Facebook).

5. SkyDrive is Microsoft service and an integral part of their larger Windows Live strategy so you really don’t have to worry about its future existence.

6. Microsoft will soon offer an Online Office suite (like Google Docs) and it’s a no brainer that documents uploaded to SkyDrive will be accessible from Online Office and vice-versa. Thus you indirectly get more storage space for documents.

7. SkyDrive has no real competition. Google and Yahoo do not have a presence in the online file storage market while services like DropBox, Mozy, Box.net, etc. offer only limited space (couple of gigs.) to free users.

The only missing component is the SkyDrive API so I am not sure how hard it is for someone to write an Outlook plugin that will automatically upload the file attachment to SkyDrive and insert the hyperlink in the email message just like YouSendIt.