SharePoint 2013 Cool Tricks for the Technically Challenged – SKY DRIVE PRO

We welcome a new year, take a collective sigh of relief with the weather change, make sure we stick to our resolutions and look forward to another installment of:

SharePoint 2013 Cool Tricks for the Technically Challenged – SKY DRIVE PRO

Office 365 and /or on -premise installation of a SharePoint 2013 server has bundled in a new feature that has quite successfully confused many.  Sky Drive Pro.

Why the confusion?  Because Microsoft already has a product called SkyDrive.  They are not even related.  SkyDrive has nothing to do with SharePoint.

Most of us know SkyDrive (and its competitor DropBox) as a free personal storage facility available for Hotmail, Live or Outlook.com account holders.  We are all pretty familiar with how it works, you can store and share your documents, photos and files with anyone you like, you can let others view and edit your files, and best of all you get 7GB free storage. (you need to pay for more).

SkyDrive Pro is a document synchronisation service that lets you sync SharePoint Document Libraries with your own computer.

How?

A site collection in 0365 will display a very well thought out titled link displayed as “SkyDrive” (no, this is not  SkyDrive, its still SkyDrive Pro) and points to the Document Library in your My Site:1 This is your 25GB of storage space in the cloud, and comes with your organisation’s subscription to 0365.

(note: if you utilise SkyDrive Pro via an on-premise SP2013 installation, then your IT team will decide how much storage space you can have).

For it to work, it has to be installed on your computer (this will either happen automatically via an Office 2013 installation, or you can download a stand-alone SkyDrive Pro Installer).  Once this is done, you can start to synchronise your SharePoint 2013 libraries with your SkyDrive Pro client immediately.

Using it is quite simple.

On your PC

Create a folder in your SkyDrive @ <companyname> directory.  In the example below, I’ve created Client Assets: 2You will notice the little symbol on the folder indicating that its currently sync’ing.

Within seconds a green tick will appear, and you know that your new Client Assets folder is now sync’d with your online document library.

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You are now ready to sync the files that you want!  You can work on a document locally, save in your Client Assets folder from your PC, and within seconds the same document is sync’d and ready to be accessed, edited and collaborated on from the cloud.

Note:  When you save a document you’ll notice an option to save to SkyDrive.  Of course this is NOT SkyDrive Pro, but simply SkyDrive.

4Your organisation’s folder (in this case “BizData”) is actually your SkyDrive Pro directory (well your personal directory but you’ll see what I mean with the screen shot below).  This is where I’m going to save this document.  You may see a series of folders, click on the one titled ‘Documents’ to see your SkyDrive Pro folders.

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The folder that you saved your file in, will sync automatically, and once the green tick appears, your file is now online!

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You can continue working on your document, hit save and your changes are captured and sync’d ready for use from any device.

Note: “Drag and Drop” also works 🙂

If you are online:

Click on your SkyDrive link and you will be presented with a familiar library view where you can immediately start adding new documents, or dragging and dropping files in.

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You can also create documents directly from your SkyDrive Pro Library, and choose to share the file with anyone, all you need to do is type their email address (this must be exact) if external.  (note: sharing externally works provided the recipient’s corporate network security allows access to SkyDrive Pro.)   An automatic look-up is actioned for internal addresses.

In the example below I’ve created a PowerPoint Document by clicking on “+new document”

9By default the new document will open as a web app as you have created it online, but of course you have an option to open in an on premise version of PowerPoint, or even download a copy if you want to.

Once you have finished editing, simply hit ‘Exit’.  The document is already saved!

10You can also elect to share (you don’t have to of course).  Simply hit the ellipse at the end of your file name:

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Shared files and folders are represented by a ‘shared’ (two people) icon.  A padlock represents files / folders that are only visible to you.  Documents in your SkyDrivePro library are private by default.

Sync Back:

Automatic sync’ing only occurs upstream.  Anything you create in your document library online you’ll have to manually sync the folder to your pc, you’ll see the “SYNC” icon in the top right hand side of your window:

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….and ta da!

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So, here are the basics:

  1. SkyDrive Pro IS NOT SkyDrive
  2. SkyDrive Pro is a sync’ing service not really a Document Library
  3. Automatic sync occurs upstream
  4. You can share or keep documents private
  5. You can sync any document library from SharePoint
  6. You can have all of your documents, spreadsheets, presentations etc available anytime, from anywhere and know that versions are sync’d!