Tag Archives: sync

Put That OneDrive Space To Use: Move Music Collection to the Cloud and Stream It

Do you have a ton of space in your OneDrive account and don’t know what you want to do with it? How about taking the bold step of moving your music collection to OneDrive?

Wait a second, you may say. OneDrive does not “support” music files, you may say. Well, maybe not openly and definitely not as a streaming music service could. However, as I coincidentally found out over the weekend, as long as you have the OneDrive app (I tested on Windows Phone, iPhone and Windows 8), you may at least be able to play your music, one song at a time.

Through a variety of promotions and tie-ins, I have almost 240GB of space on my OneDrive, and very soon, it is going to be 1TB because I have an Office 365 Home subscription.

To The Cloud

First though, moving the collection. If you are like me, and have many ways to listen to your collection, and have multiple forms of backup running, you may be wary of moving things around. I took a deep breath and took the plunge, although I knew what I wanted to achieve: move the music to the cloud but not lose the local files, and still continue to back up to my cloud backup service, Crashplan.

So, on my Windows 8 “home server”, I took the music off the data drive and moved it to my OneDrive’s sync location under a convenient location like OneDrive\Music. It took a while to move my 120GB to the cloud, but once I copied it to the location, I let it do its thing uploading the music to OneDrive. This step should be identical if you have Windows 7 (or even a Mac) with the OneDrive sync client installed.

The advantage with this approach as opposed to leaving the music on the home server is that I now have the ability to access my music from virtually any device connected to the internet. At the same time, since the music is still on my home server, I did not lose the ability to play the music from devices on the home network like my Apple TV.

Backup vs Sync

One common confusion is mistaking backup for sync, or vice versa. I think of it this way: I want my important data to be backed up without any manual effort, and I want some of the digital memories synced so that I can access them from anywhere, at anytime. The nuance here being, the backup is a one-way data transfer from my home server to the cloud whereas syncing enables me to add to my music collection from anywhere. So the next time I see a great deal on Amazon Music for a $5 album, I can not only purchase it but also download it and make it available to my other devices.

OneDrive Website Album Listing
OneDrive Website Album Listing
OneDrive Website Download Prompt
OneDrive Website Download Prompt

 

Use the OneDrive apps

Speaking of being able to access from anywhere, what happens when you try to open one of your (DRM-free, of course) audio files? Well, it depends. If you open from a browser, it simply opens the dialog to download the file. This is because the OneDrive web app is not set up for streaming music. It is only meant to interpret documents (Office formats, text and PDF), pictures and video. In the mobile OneDrive apps on the other hand, you can navigate to the folder with the songs, and tap on the actual song and it will start playing the song.

OneDrive iOS App Artists
OneDrive iOS App Artists
OneDrive iOS App Albums
OneDrive iOS App Albums
OneDrive iOS App Songs In Album
OneDrive iOS App Songs In Album
OneDrive iOS App Song Display
OneDrive iOS App Song Display
OneDrive iOS App Streaming Song
OneDrive iOS App Streaming Song
OneDrive iOS App AirPlay Option
OneDrive iOS App AirPlay Option

I hadn’t noticed this earlier, and while this is good, it by no means makes the OneDrive app a music player like Amazon Music app or Google Play Music app. For example, the app does not play an entire folder. It does not understand playlists. When you skip a song, it simply returns you to the folder instead of playing the next song.

OneDrive Windows Phone App Albums
OneDrive Windows Phone App Albums
OneDrive Windows Phone App Album Listing
OneDrive Windows Phone App Album Listing
OneDrive Windows Phone App Streaming Audio
OneDrive Windows Phone App Streaming Audio

 

But the fact that it can now stream (not download and then play) is a good sign that perhaps the OneDrive app may unbundle the photos/videos, documents and music features into their own apps just like Google and Amazon have done. I can see a OneDrive app like it is today, for general storage features, an Office app to only surface the files that Office mobile can open, OneDrive Photo app for pictures and videos, and OneDrive Music or Xbox Music app to surface audio files.

OneDrive Windows 8 App Album Listing
OneDrive Windows 8 App Album Listing
OneDrive Windows 8 App Streaming Music
OneDrive Windows 8 App Streaming Music

 

Owning music vs renting

I say all of the above but I am one of those who has slowly learned to give up trying to deeply control the music collection. I mostly rent music via one or more of the streaming services like Spotify, Rdio, iHeart, etc. I am also a paying subscriber for Xbox Music Pass which lets me play any song from their catalog on-demand. As a result, the real need to listen to music I “own” (because you know, this collection goes way back to the Napster and Kazaa days), has gone down tremendously. There are still some comedians whose performances I have in my collection which are not available on iTunes or Xbox Music catalog. There are also some Bollywood songs which did not match when I tried iTunes Match and also Xbox Music matching, but those are general the exception rather than the rule.

And then there’s services like Apple’s iTunes Match. It allows one to “match” their local collection with iTunes’ catalog and whenever there is a match, iTunes allows you to listen to the songs from any authorized device. The service is not free, but at $25/year it is a small price to pay for hassle-free management of your music collection. It also allows customers to upload the songs which do not match, although the uploaded songs would count against the iCloud storage quota. Once Apple’s newly announced storage plans go in effect, it would be a good idea to let iTunes completely manage the collection, which is taking one more step towards freeing up your collection. Xbox Music advertised long ago that this feature was coming to the service but so far it only does matching but does not allow you to upload unmatched music to the cloud.

Use the cloud, any cloud

To conclude, I recommend that you start thinking about simplifying your data management. Why leave stuff on your hard drive when you can use the cloud? For digital stuff like music and photos, it is better to make the cloud your primary “drive” and sync it to the devices you use. I used OneDrive as an example in this article but feel free to explore the cloud of your choice. It won’t harm going instead with Google, Amazon, or coming soon, Apple because all of the big ecosystem providers understand that providing a reliable storage solution is key to keeping customers “sticky”. Start planning the move to the cloud, as long as your bandwidth permits.

What’s your personal cloud situation? What about owning vs renting music, do you use any of the streaming services? Which ones? Why? Let us know!

OneDrive for Business Now Offers 1TB per User

OneDrive For Business
OneDrive For Business

On April 28, Microsoft announced some updates to OneDrive for Business, the service formerly known as SkyDrive Pro. According to the blog post on Office Blogs:

 

First, we will be increasing OneDrive for Business storage from 25GB to 1TB per user.

Second, all Office 365 ProPlus customers will get 1TB of OneDrive for Business storage per user as part of their Office 365 ProPlus subscription.

Third, we’ll help organizations migrate data from their existing solutions to OneDrive for Business

The first update is huge. Not too long ago, SkyDrive Pro was providing only 7GB per user. When Microsoft announced the standalone OneDrive for Business offering, they also bumped up the default storage to 25GB per user. Now perhaps based on pressure from competitors like Google, they have made the default to 1TB. As always when there is competition, we as customers ultimately win.

Office 365 ProPlus is a service that provides always-up-to-date Office software to customers on a subscription basis. Until today’s announcement, it was purely an Office subscription. Now, it also comes with a truckload of storage space and more importantly, a sync solution that ensures that files are always in sync across devices.

The third item was not detailed but I suspect Microsoft will have some utilities to help migrate data from Google Drive, Dropbox, Box and others to OneDrive for Business. We shall see.

The blog post goes on to describe the benefits OneDrive for Business offers in addition to pure storage amount and sync:

Native integration with Office documents: Enables people to discover content and collaborate with others in real time with efficient synchronization of changes and real-time co-authoring using Office Online.

Connected to what you need, when you need it: As cloud services like Office 365 get smarter and more personalized with Office Graph, OneDrive for Business becomes part of a connected productivity solution where content is discoverable, sharable and personalized for individual users, helping to increase personal and organizational responsiveness.

A trusted service: OneDrive for Business provides enterprise content management, compliance and admin controls, financially backed by the industry-leading Office 365 Service Level Agreement. We’ve made investments in manageability, security, auditing and information protection including rights management, data loss prevention, auditing, eDiscovery, legal holds, etc. and more that can work for OneDrive for business but also across SharePoint and Exchange.

Deep investment in certifications and infrastructure: We’ve invested heavily already in areas that are important for doing business in major vertical industries and geographies, such as FISMA, the EU Model Clauses, CJIS and more, many of which are detailed on our Trust Center.  Microsoft has industry-leading, cloud reliability and security and has made a massive investment in physical datacenters around the world, enabling us to deliver high availability and robust disaster recovery capabilities.

Scale through partners: Our 400,000 partners around the world can help customers get up and running quickly with OneDrive for Business as a standalone solution or with Office 365.

As you can see, OneDrive for Business is not a “dumb storage” service but it is in fact the center of a collaborative solution that is protected by certifications and service level agreements. Along with the huge partner network, which enables building innovative solutions on top of the storage layer, OneDrive for Business is now a serious contender for businesses of any size to move their data into the cloud.

Tip: Skip Skydrive Initial Sync when Installing It on a New PC

Did you buy a new PC recently? Perhaps you are hopping on the Windows 8 bandwagon and have got yourself a new touchscreen PC? Do you use SkyDrive, and more specifically the SkyDrive (desktop) application? Do you have a PC with sync-ed SkyDrive application and a USB drive? Read on for a tip that may save you time and money.

Ed: I explain the following for a Windows PC, but it should be applicable for Macs as well.

If you use the SkyDrive service and have a lot of data stored there, you will notice it will take a lot of time to complete the initial sync when you install it on a new PC. Not just that, if you have 10-15GB of data stored there like I do, it will also chew up your data quota very quickly which would be a problem on networks with data caps.

I was recently in that position and I did the following to bypass the initial sync. Hope this helps.

Install the SkyDrive desktop app on the new PC: As usual, just go to SkyDrive.com and get the desktop app and installed it. Make a note of the designated SkyDrive folder. This is usually C:\Users\<username>\SkyDrive.

SkyDrive folder
SkyDrive folder

 

As soon as the installation completes, go to the system tray and exit the SkyDrive app by right-clicking and clicking Exit.

Exit SkyDrive application
Exit SkyDrive application

 

Then, on the other PC/Mac with sync-ed SkyDrive app, insert the USB drive and copy the contents of the entire folder except the “.lock” file to the USB drive.

After the copy task completes, attach the USB drive to the new PC and copy the entire contents from the USB drive to the newly installed SkyDrive folder location.

Once that copy task is done, you can restart SkyDrive app on the new PC by going to Start and entering “SkyDrive”. The application will take a few seconds to sync up and will notify you that it is up to date.

That’s it. Time as well as precious bandwidth saved.

 

A Truckload of Wholesome Updates Confirmed Coming to SkyDrive

SkyDrive

After several leaks of upcoming SkyDrive features made the rounds on the internet in the past few days, Microsoft confirmed a bunch of fantastic updates to SkyDrive on their Building Windows 8 blog today.

Let’s look at what was announced in the post by Omar Shahine and Mike Torres, Group Program Managers for SkyDrive:

  • Metro-style SkyDrive app for Windows 8
  • Windows Explorer integration of SkyDrive
  • SkyDrive.com browsing of remote computer files

 

SkyDrive Metro-style App

Browse folders on SkyDrive

In addition, several other items were confirmed:

  • The SkyDrive desktop app is not limited to Windows 8. It will be supported on Windows 7 and Windows Vista as well. Curiously (and perhaps, deliberately?) no mention of a Mac desktop app, even though the screenshot leaks showed there may be a Mac app coming as well.
  • The post also confirmed that SkyDrive, which offers 25GB free as of today, will have the ability to get upgraded. Obviously, no details were mentioned about the pricing or the tiers, but finally we have official confirmation that we will be able to upgrade that storage, so we can use it meaningfully as a “personal cloud”.
  • SkyDrive was recently updated to handle file sizes of up to 100MB, but in today’s day and age it could be a limiting factor, especially with videos. Today we have confirmation that we will be able to upload files with sizes up to 2GB!
  • With the remote file browsing feature, we also have confirmation that there will be 2-factor authentication required, unless those PCs are trusted PCs.

Finally, because SkyDrive app will be available to any other app in Windows 8 via Charms and Contracts, every app developer now has access to the SkyDrive. Any app which opens and saves documents and photos, will automatically be able to use SkyDrive for the purpose. This will be a wonderful feature for app developers as well as customers, who will have instant access to their SkyDrive files in Windows 8.

MTNL Launches Push-Mail Service In Association With Bharat Berry

Remember Bharat Berry? It was launched by a Jaipur based company to offer consumers with push e-mail services when there were talks about Govt.’s proposed permanent ban on Blackberry’s messaging and voice services in India. We have already told you about Bharat Berry when it was initially launched.

Now, MTNL (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd.) has partnered with Bharat Berry to provide it’s customers in Delhi and Mumbai with various services such as Push Mail, Calendar and Contacts Sync. These services can be availed by any MTNL subscriber irrespective of the handsets they use. The basic requirements for Bharat Berry are that the handset should be java enabled and should have support for GPRS. Handsets supported include many from Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, LG, BlackBerry & HTC.

Packages & Pricing

Users can opt for either of e-mail or contact/calender sync services which are priced at Rs 50 each per month. However, a combo subscription for both the services is also available at Rs. 80 per month. Users can also opt for a free three month trial of Bharat Berry’s push mail services.