Microsoft’s SkyDrive is a great resource for Windows Phone users to backup their documents and photos, saving them to the company’s cloud servers for safekeeping. If you were able to take advantage of the free 25GB accounts while they were available, it probably seems like an even more useful tool. It’s not without its limitations, though, and while Microsoft has been pretty consistent with its message, not all users are aware of how the company’s policies shape the system’s use. Just why can you use SkyDrive to store your docs, but not to backup app data?
Company representatives give several reasons for this restriction. For one, SkyDrive is supposed to only be accessible via direct user action. That is, if you want to store a photo with it, you need to perform some task yourself, even if that’s just tapping on a button; an app automatically storing data is a no-no.
More than that, though, Microsoft strongly feels that SkyDrive shouldn’t be some generic file-storage facility; it’s only intended for media. If you can’t read it, watch it, or listen to it, Microsoft doesn’t want it on SkyDrive. The company specifically takes issue with non-human-readable data files, which it’s worried will clutter things up. It explains:
The goal of the policy is to avoid the scenario whereby a user’s personal cloud storage doesn’t end up overwhelmed with a collection of non-human readable content, that is the equivalent of computer files such as INI and XML config files.
That’s reasonable, even if it may not be the most user-friendly policy around. We’ve got to wonder, though: couldn’t Microsoft offer a similar service specifically for app backups if it wants to keep SkyDrive itself nice and clean?