Every few years Apple completely changes its internet services and it never seems to get it right. It has morphed over the years from iTools to .Mac to MobileMe to iCloud, and now it has changed again. So why am I writing about Apple stuff on this PC website? Well, the latest changes have brought about a complete upheaval of Apple’s online storage and it is now easily accessible from Windows PCs. If you have an iPad or iPhone you can add iCloud Drive to Windows and get access to 5GB of online storage.
This is not a new idea from Apple and the company originally had iDisk, which was online storage that could be accessed like a local disk drive. It abandoned iDisk years ago, but it has been brought back from the dead as iCloud Drive.
Before you start, update your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to iOS 8 through Settings, General, Software Update. This converts the old style iCloud to the new version. You are then ready to add iCloud to Windows.
If you have iTunes installed on your PC or QuickTime, you will also have Apple Software Update. Run it from the Start menu in Windows 7 or in Windows 8 just type ‘Apple’ on the Start screen and click Apple Software Update in the search results. If you don’t have any Apple software on your Windows PC, download it from Apple.
Here you can see that there is an update for iTunes and iCloud for Windows. Tick iCloud for Windows and also update iTunes if necessary (you might already be running the latest version.
The software will then download and install. You will be prompted to restart Windows and it is an important step. When you get back to the desktop you are automatically asked to sign in to your iCloud account as used on your iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or Apple Mac.
What happens next depends on whether you have Outlook and whether you want to sync contacts, calendars, tasks and bookmarks. You may see these windows pop up. It is up to you whether you sync everything or not. Some people like to do this, but some don’t. I choose to do so.
After installing the software, it looks like this, with photos, bookmarks, calendars and so on, all synced.
The interesting thing is that when you open an Explorer window, there are new iCloud Drive and iCloud Photos items on the left. Select iCloud Drive and you have access to your online storage. You get 5GB of online storage free with an iCloud account and anyone with an iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or Mac will have an account. Now you can swap files between Apple devices and Apple computers as easily as dragging them around in Explorer on Windows PCs.
At last Apple has a half decent online storage facility that can be used by any device or computer to store files of any type. Up until now, iCloud storage could only be accessed through an app and each app had its own private space that other apps could not access. Now it is more like general online storage and similar to Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox and similar services.
The only downside is that 5GB doesn’t go very far if you have a couple of Apple devices, such as an iPhone and iPad because it is used for backups. Each of those could take up a gigabytes or two, but even so, this is a useful feature for Windows users.