Windows Live SkyDrive is part of Microsoft’s Windows Live family of Web 2.0-style online offerings. It is a password-protected online service with an elegant interface that provides file-storage facilities in a reliable manner and lets one save the information online for further use.

Windows Live SkyDrive offers 25GB of free online storage. So as long as you have a Hotmail or MSN email account, you have a SkyDrive. You can use SkyDrive storage to back up any type of file to a Private, Public, or Shared folder. You can assign permissions and set folders to public or private, to help you share individual files with only people that you select. No one except you, with your Windows Live ID log-in name and password, can access Private folders; anyone on the Internet can view your Public folders, but only people you invite can see Shared folders. You can restrict invitees’ access to certain Shared folders or grant them Contributor status for viewing, adding, modifying, and deleting items in a folder. With SkyDrive you can even create Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, even without having Microsoft Office installed.

SkyDrive defaults to using a browse-and-pick uploader, letting you transfer five files of up to 50MB each at a time. But it can be annoying to always have a browser open to access it. This is a very tedious process.

Recently I discovered SkyDrive Explorer (Now, it has been renamed as SDExplorer and separated into two editions: Base and PRO) , a very useful extension that allows you to mount your skydrive like a map drive and access it in My Computer . The concept of SkyDrive Explorer is exactly the same as GMail Drive Extension that turns your Google email into a virtual file system. SkyDrive would be a better option compared to Gmail because Gmail is smaller and not meant to be a file storage. It can be a little risky if one day Google decides to delete files that are uploaded using GMail Drive Extension or suspend your Google account.

After installing SkyDrive Explorer (SDExplorer)…go into My Computer and you will see an additional icon in My Computer called SkyDrive Explorer.

Skydrive in My Computer

To access the drive, double clicking on that icon will prompt you to enter your Windows Live ID. The login form looks very much like Windows Live Messenger 2009.

sign into your Windows Live account

After a successful login, you’ll see all of the folders and files you have created and stored in your SkyDrive.

SDExplorer Context Menu

SkyDrive Explorer (SDExplorer) is free and  works both in 32- and 64-bit versions of Microsoft Windows OS. The minimum required OS is Windows XP, and SDExplorer will successfully work on Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003 and 2008, and Windows 7

As we have mentioned above, SkyDrive Explorer  has been renamed SDExplorer and separated into two editions: Base and PRO. You can check out this page, which displays the functionality available in each edition so you can choose the one that fits you best to download.