Windows 8.1 gets ‘Smart Files’ support from SkyDrive

SkyDrive Windows 8/RT logo

Microsoft adds new powerful feature to SkyDrive to help Windows 8.1 users to save a ton of local disk space on small devices and desktop computers alike. It’s called “Smart Files” and it is a unique technique that syncs only metadata, folder location, and thumbnail instead of the entire file down to the device.

Smart Files look and behave exactly the same as any other file, but they only occupied a fraction of the original size on disk. Microsoft says it can save up to 80% on average of local storage space.

There is nothing special you have to do to open one of these files, just double-click and the rest of the file will download and open with the corresponding application on a process that Microsoft calls “hydrating”. Once you finish working with document will automatically sync, but the original will stay on disk until you manually choose to make the file available online only.

On photos, for example, SkyDrive will detect the screen size and download the proper thumbnail size. — Yes, SkyDrive is capable of providing many thumbnail sizes, in fact, the only time you’ll actually download the original photo is when you choose to edit or make available offline. — It’s also worth noting that all these processes happen in the cloud, which saves a lot processing power and battery on the device.

Although, this is a much-needed functionality that surely will save many gigabytes of disk space, I do see a few issues though. For example, not everyone knows yet how to use Smart Files, as such many users won’t know they have to manually, right-click a folder and choose “Make available offline”, if they want to work with those documents without an internet connection.

Note: Even though files are now synced locally, they will be automatically synced to your SkyDrive account once an internet connection becomes available.

Also the software giant stated that files open on the fly, but it won’t always be true, think about large videos or complex documents. They will take a while to sync, more on slow internet connections. Even a bigger problem, there isn’t a progress bar that indicates the file or folder is syncing, and there isn’t a mark in File Explorer telling you which files are available offline.

SEE ALSO: Windows 8.1 Guide: SkyDrive app, a seamless integration to the cloud

Previously the software giant talked about this feature (you can read more about it here), but now the “Smart Files” feature is ready for primetime, and the company will be rolling it out in the coming weeks.

Source SkyDrive Blog

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows expert and the Editor-in-Chief who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He is also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 12 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows, software, and related technologies, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and About.me.