Microsoft bad, good then bad again

onejpgFor several years I’ve made effective professional use of cloud storage on Microsoft’s SkyDrive, now known as OneDrive. I’d managed to accumulate about 25Gb of free storage on OneDrive and was using it to automatically back up files associated with current projects, plus my administration files. It was a bit of a kludge: I’d back up current work files to the cloud, then, once the jobs were finished, I’d archive those files elsewhere on my computer’s hard drive and to a USB hard drive.

Then earlier this year, Microsoft welshed on the deal and cut all users’ free OneDrive storage limit back to 5Gb. Bastards!

Office 365Five gigabytes was not enough, but there was a pretty sweet replacement deal on offer: a whole terabyte of cloud storage, plus free use of the latest Office 365 suite, for a fairly reasonable annual rental. I accepted the offer and now all my data files, including archived ones, live in the cloud. Two laptops plus two mobile devices are synced to it.

Since recently revitalising my older Dell Windows 7 machine via an OS reinstall, I find myself using that laptop quite a bit – partly because some of my key Photoshop plugins don’t work in Windows 10, which my Acer machine has. I set up OneDrive on the Dell and it immediately synced to my cloud storage, downloading about 160Gb of files. (Fortunately I have an unlimited broadband account!)

So now my files are always up to date, on the physical hard drives of two laptops and in the OneDrive cloud. And I still back up the most important files to a separate USB hard drive. Yes, I’m paranoid about backup but yes, I now have reasonable peace of mind.

Then a couple of days ago I upset the applecart by changing my OneDrive password – on the Dell. It worked fine and the sync to OneCloud was preserved. Not so dandy with my other laptop, which was now shut off from the cloud. The OneDrive icon in its System Tray wouldn’t stop ‘signing in’ and I couldn’t figure out how to tell it about my new password.

Fortunately, Microsoft came to the rescue. The company now has a pretty damn good ‘Answer Desk’ customer help system, based on text chat. After less than five minutes I found myself chatting back and forth with a very helpful young man from the Philippines. He offered to take over my computer and sort the problem out. I accepted and from there it was very simple. After a quick nosey round he went to OneDrive’s System Tray icon and told it to exit, then to restart. Bingo: OneCloud reconnected automatically, with no password being re-entered.

So simple, yet I never saw that solution on any of Microsoft’s web help pages.

A rip-off
Though I think the OneDrive/Office 365 deal, especially with the one terabyte of storage, is pretty good, Microsoft is grossly overcharging Kiwis compared with our cousins across the ditch. An annual subscription to the Home plan in Australia is Au$119. In New Zealand it is NZ$165. Right now the Aussie dollar isn’t worth much more than ours, and the Australian price would convert to NZ$123.50. Yet we’re being asked – sorry, told – to pay $165. How can they possibly justify such a difference? The software is delivered online and the product support for both countries is in the Philippines. Where are the extra costs to justify the Kiwi tax?

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