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Jared Shockley, Information Technology Professional This is my spot on the Internet for me to share my thoughts on technology, software, hardware, gadgets and IT in general. Please feel free to comment.


Using SkyDrive for Blog Assets [UPDATED]

SkyDriveAs I moved my website and blog onto the Azure cloud, one of my main concerns for hosting was around the assets for my blog. The storage and data transfer of those asset files can account for a lot of the cost. Azure hosts files in their own storage cloud, a content distribution network. To offset the costs and to use SkyDrive even more, I am using SkyDrive to host my assets from now on.

Content Distribution Networks (CDN) are expensive to host files. The architecture of a CDN puts the files on many servers for redundancy and to locate the files close to users reducing the network "hops" to the file from the user. Costs for CDN hosting has come down in recent months but the reduction in costs is driven by a reduction in redundancy. CDN operators are charging more for geographic redundancy. When using the pricing estimators, the costs were pretty high for the return. I started looking for alternatives for hosting my blog assets and looked at my SkyDrive account.

For those who don't know, SkyDrive is Microsoft's cloud storage for users. It is a free service that offers 7GB of storage for users. Some similar products are Dropbox, Apple's iCloud, and Google Drive. There are synchronizing applications for Windows and viewer applications for Windows 8/RT, Windows Phone, iPhone/iPad, and Android devices. On top of the applications, the web interface for SkyDrive includes Office Web Apps, giving users an easy way to view, review and edit Office documents stored in their SkyDrive.

One other good feature of SkyDrive is the photo management capabilities. Folders that contain photographs can be viewed in preview mode for easy review and organization. Along with the preview mode, SkyDrive can show the photos in a slideshow. SkyDrive can even post images to social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn or provide the user with a direct link that people can view their photos with. To accomplish my desire for hosting my blog assets, I am using the photo management capabilities plus some link capturing capabilities to show the pictures in my blog articles.

Here's how I setup my SkyDrive account to host my blog assets:

  1. I created two folders in my SkyDrive called "Blog" and "BlogThumbs". My plan is to put full size images in the "Blog" folder and thumbnails in the "BlogThumbs" folder. Then, I set the sharing of the folders in the "Get a link" selection to public by pushing the "Make Public" button and click "Done".
  2. I uploaded my images to the folders. This can be done via the Windows 8/RT application, SkyDrive website, or mobile apps.
  3. To place the thumbnail image into my blog entry, pull up the image in SkyDrive and right-click on it to "View Original" in the pop-up menu. This will bring up the image in a new window or tab. The URL is the direct link to the photo. Use this in your blog post as the image URL.
  4. If you have a larger image, open the image in SkyDrive. Click on Sharing and select "Share Photo". Use the "Get a link" and create a link for "View Only". Use this link as the URL for the hyperlink when you click the thumbnail.

That's it! There are many ways to use SkyDrive, including my easy way to manage blog assets through SkyDrive. I’m a SkyDrive Insider, so feel free to ask me about SkyDrive or learn more about the SkyDrive Insiders program here.

Are you looking to use SkyDrive for your blog assets? What other ways can you use SkyDrive?

UPDATE - April 27, 2014

I decided to utilize more of the Azure cloud systems, embracing it a bit more. To that end, I added blob storage and CDN support for the storage so I can have the assets served out by the CDN to the world. That also means it is cached locally in the Azure data centers around the world. What does that mean for my assets, the small files are copied all around the world and will appear faster on your screens regardless if you are near the Azure US West data center (where I host my site and assets). Will it mean a lot to my blog, not right now. I hope it does in the future. Until then, it was fun to setup and continues to be fun to play with. I will blog more about it soon.




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