Microsoft SkyDrive has been a sleeper alternative to Apple's iCloud, providing five times as much free storage. Monday, however, Microsoft announced that it is cutting the free option to 7 GB. That's the only option for new users. But if you already have an account, you have a limited amount of time to hold on to your 25 GB.
And it's worth doing. While it doesn't have the slick syncing capability between gadgets that iCloud does, SkyDrive is still a good free repository for online docs that you can access from anywhere. (Apple charges $40 for the same 25 GB of storage. Another competitor, DropBox, charges $100 per year for its smallest upgrade — 50 GB.)
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Another SkyDrive bonus is its ability to create and edit Microsoft Office documents (such as in Word and Excel) right in the Web interface on PCs or Macs. No app installation (and cost) required.
And while it doesn't fully synchronize data with mobiles, it does provide apps to view the online documents from Windows phones and iPhones and iPads. You can also upload photos from these mobiles.
And the upgrade is simple. Here's how you do it:
Go to your SkyDrive account at skydrive.live.com. If you haven't been there in a while, remember that you log in with your username and password for Microsoft's catch-all online service Windows Live.
Go to the bottom left of your account page and click "Manage storage." You'll see a listing of storage plans, and under "SkyDrive Free" a button that says "Free Upgrade!" Just click it, and you're all good.
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First published April 23 2012, 2:30 PM