One of the feature, SkyDrive users are looking for is the ability to sync any folder on their Windows 8 PC with SkyDrive – now christened OneDrive. This was one feature they missed after Live Mesh was retired. You can however now get this feature using SkyShellEx.
Sync any folder with OneDrive
SkyShellEx is a shell extension that allows you to sync any folder to OneDrive, but keeps your existing folder structure intact. SkyShellEx works based on NTFS feature symbolic links or directory or folder junctions. When you install it, it adds new menu items to the context menu of the Explorer. Just right-click on any folder and you’ll see the ‘Sync to OneDrive’ context menu entry.
This right-click context menu item is not available for all folders. It doesn’t show for folders under Windows, System, Program Files and folders from the removable storage.
When you click on ‘Sync to SkyDrive , the folder is synced. The folder on OneDrive as well as the folder junction now get a new icon.
When ‘Sync to OneDrive’ is clicked and the selected folder doesn’t exist in OneDrive then the folder will be silently moved and a surrogate folder in form of a folder junction will be placed at the original location. In case OneDrive already contains a folder with the same name, then you will get to see these options –
In the ‘Merged Folders’ option, it assumes that the folder is synced by SkyDrive / OneDrive from another PC, and that you want to sync the same folder with the current PC. Your existing folder will be merged and the original folder will be replaced by a folder junction.
While in the option ‘Side by side’, there are 2 cases –
You could have a folder from another device – but two versions of the same folder side by side. In this scenario, a new name with computer name as a suffix is suggested. But you can choose your own name too.
The other possibility is that the 2 folders with the same name, are on different locations on your computer. If you have already sync’d a folder on your computer with the same name then SkyShellEx will suggest a new name, that includes the parent folder name as a prefix – or you can choose your own name.
Once the folder is synced, the folder in OneDrive / SkyDrive as well as the junction gets a new icon as shown earlier.
If at any time, you want to stop Syncing your folder, you have the option ‘Stop Syncing to SkyDrive’ when you right click on that folder.
When ‘Stop Syncing to SkyDrive’ is clicked, this will provide 2 options. First option, Detach folder. It restores your folder at is original place, but leaves a copy of your data in SkyDrive, preventing data getting deleted from other machines that also sync the same folder. While the second option, of Remove folder, also restores your original folder, it removes it completely from SkyDrive. So it will not be available on other devices too.
A ‘Share from SkyDrive’ context menu option appears on any folder within SkyDrive as well as on the folder junctions that point to SkyDrive. SkyShellEx therefore also provides sharing Folders option.
On first sync you will be asked to give SkyShellEx access to your SkyDrive. The permission is needed to resolve the local folder name to the folder ID used by SkyDrive. You can also check ‘Remember access for SkyShellEx” option to avoid answering this question every time.
Once the folder name is resolved, you will see the familiar sharing screen from SkyDrive with all it’s options.
When I tried this Share from SkyDrive option, SkyShellEx stopped working and gave this error.
Using SkyShellEx you can sync across devices – but it’s not the Live Mesh kind of peer-to-peer sync. I haven’t tried this option though -tried the simple folder sync option and it was bit slow even for small files.
Please note that its still in Beta, so it is strongly recommended that you maintain backups of such folders. You can download it from CodePlex. SkyShellEx is available in 32-bit and 64-bit version for Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. .NET 4.0 Framework is required.