Beware Of Skydrive Sync Chewing Up Your Monthly Bandwidth Allowance

The ability to sync files stored on SkyDrive with your computer can be very useful, especially given the generous space allocation (7GB for everyone, up to 25GB for early adopters). However, one Lifehacker reader has noticed that keeping a large SkyDrive collection in sync can use a lot of bandwidth, potentially trigging shaping or an excess usage bill.

Reader Greg writes in with his experience:

I think Microsoft SkyDrive ate my whole month's internet data of 50GB. My ISP just throttled me to 256kbps as a result. In 20 months on this same plan, I've never before got even halfway to my monthly limit.

I expected a surge in traffic during the initial data sync with Microsoft SkyDrive while my 1.03GB of data was uploaded. Now that's complete, I expected the traffic to settle to a trickle. But it hasn't.

Even though Skydrive is 'up to date', it is still downloading 134KBYTES per second on average. That download volume will eat my 50Gb monthly allowance in just 4 days. Maybe you can warn your readers about this. Has anyone compared Skydrive with the other online sync tools in terms of data consumption?

Any syncing service will increase your data usage, but the figures Greg has experienced do seem pretty extreme. I haven't ever done a formal comparison, but that sounds like a good idea for the (long) to-do list.

Had a similar experience with SkyDrive or another service? Tell us about it in the comments. Thanks Greg!


    I Would think this would only be a service check back to base for any 'updated' files to down load. As they can t be pushed to the computer, only pulled from the app. Maybe sky drive is checking too often? Or you just looked at it at the wrong time. I think drop box does this maybe once every 30 secs but it should use much data at all.

    I have about 55Gb on my SkyDrive but I haven't noticed any extra download on my end...

    Perhaps he had a folder in his skydrive that was changing a lot (say he redirected a folder into it). Some temp files for applications can change very frequently and this would cause a sync.

    There must be something funny going on - I have just over 10GB in my SkyDrive, and this month I have only been using ~1GB per day on my Broadband service with the SkyDrive client running, and the PC connected 24x7.

    Maybe when you restart your PC, and ongoing during the day it needs to check that anything has changed on the remote end (ie if you have uploaded new files via the web interface), but you shouldn't see sustained traffic over long periods...

    Something doesn't seem right about this at all...

    I'm looking at my resource monitor right now.... Skydrive is receiving between 1 - 3 b/sec.

    I think Greg may be misleading himself, or his computer has something else going on. He might try reinstalling Skydrive, see if that stops the downloads.

    Also - B/sec = Bits per second not BYTES per second so his actual download size is closer to 16 Kilobytes.
    To download 50GB at 16KB/psec it would take approx 360 days to blow that limit.

    Sorry Lifehacker but come on, is this really a story? Please check your information before posting, it looks shody!

      I think you may be confused as well....

      @Todd - you're wrong mate.

      B = bytes, b = bits

    The one drawback of skydrive, i've found, is that it DOES store the files locally on your pc.

    how is this a bad thing? my OS runs on an SSD, and as an early adopter with 25Gb, you can see how having a potential 25Gb blowout on your, usually quite small, SSD might be an issue!

      If you're worried about that, you could probably use Skydrive online with Office 365 or whatever it's called. That's if you're just using it for documents and spreadsheets, anyway.

    Have been syncing my SkyDrive across two PCs for a while now, both on my home Internet connection, totalling about 2GB spread among the folders (including my Dropbox folder ^_^). Haven't noticed any spikes in my useage.

    Would a likely culprit be something like an Outlook OST or PST that Skydrive's sync may see as "changing" all the time?
    Just a thought.

    I know someone who put an Active MYOB file in Drop box and each time they got out of myob it synced a fresh copy. Maybe he accidentally has a file that is "Active all the time" in the folder

    Does Skydrive allow you to select folders like SugarSync or is it one folder like Dropbox?

    For a client I went to check why they were constantly using large amounts of data. Somehow they added appdata\local\temp to their sync folders.

      Windows Live Mesh allowed you to do that, SkyDrive doesnt.

      SkyDrive also doesn't let you put the folder on a network share though dropbox does (im attempting to have a few Virtual Machines that i work in rather than sully the Host OS with loads of software, which always bogs my system down, and VMware only lets you mount the host file system as network drives, cant symlink to network share either.)

    hey there-
    I'm on the SkyDrive team. We'd love to get in touch with Greg. Please post here:


    Simple. Empty the folder and add file types in, one by one.

    To get drive access, try SDExplorer.

    I am having the same problem. SkyDrive says that it is up-to-date, but it continues to download 2,300,000 bytes / min. Did you find a reason why? On the other hand, Dropbox shows 1,000 bytes / min, and that is only once in a while, not continuous.

    I faced same problem in Turkey. My internet service provider has similar cloud storage service and I installed both in the same day on my computer. Following two months I've exceeded my upload traffic limit which is 50Gig in 10 - 15 days. I claimed my service provider, but they insisted that the problem was not beacuse of their service. 2 months later I made many trials and found out that Skydrive consumes all my upload traffic. Now I'm not using it either on my home computers, or work laptop. I can't understand why this happens on Skydrive, but not on Dropbox, etc.

    I had the same problem early on because the folder I synced contained my Outlook pst file. This was constantly updating and chewed through about 70gb of extra data in a month. I moved the PST folder and the problem was resolved.

    I've seen my SkyDrive, on multiple occasions, use massive bandwidth... even though there are no files syncing. ALL of my changes to files happen on this computer. So... why is SkyDrive downloading at 256Kbps for 10-15min. I'd understand uploading, if I had files that changed. But downloading? Makes no sense.

    Yes! Skydrive does eat up a lot from your internet bandwidth. I have been monitoring skydrive for over a month now and had seen that my upload as well as download is huge. This is despite the fact that I am syncing only one skydrive folder with just 13 items, totalling only 3 MB. I am worried whether skydrive is malware infested and transferring my info to some hacker.

    The Experience is absolutely true.. My skydrive had the same issue. i have a 7.5 Gb file on skydrive mainly business related and i work on them daily with some changes in excel and word docs etc. i have a 200 gb usage bandwidth every month and in the first five days of my usage Skydrive used up almost 140 gb in data transfer. I had to delete all files from Skydrive to stop the data usage.

    I am now at the mercy of my ISP who will shape my bandwidth in next 3 days .. i am looking at dial up speeds for at least 15 days this month thanks to Skydrive .. Good riddance to bad rubbish at least for me.

    I recently put all my Outlook folders in SkyDrive - now OneDrive and just discovered that my bandwidth soared to over 1100 GB in one month! MS updates the entire folder every time ANYTHING in that folder changes - so every new email triggers an update of a 5 gb file.
    Dropbox handles it differently, so I'm moving my Outlook folders to Dropbox.

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