SkyDrive is not to be used by devs for app backup

Windows Phone developers and users who have been using SkyDrive to backup application data have been violating Microsoft's policy, according to recent comments from company personnel. The news comes less than a week after a user said Microsoft blocked his access to the service for files in a private folder regarding a separate policy violation.

According to a post on MSDN from Mark Chamberlain, a Microsoft representative, developers who use SkyDrive as a backup tool for personal data are violating the service's policies. The Microsoft employee said developers who use SkyDrive in this manner put their apps at risk from being removed from the marketplace or rejected during the submission process.

SkyDrive is not intended to be a free backup solution for applications. Any attempts to use it as such is outside of the intended use of the service and the restrictions present in the API are intended to reinforce this. Any apps that do this are at risk of being rejected from Marketplace, or pulled from Marketplace at a later time.

The statement came in response to a user's question regarding why archive file formats aren't supported in SkyDrive. The user specifically stated that he or she was archiving data for upload to SkyDrive's servers. Chamberlain's statements were quickly met with objections from MSDN users, including a Nokia employee, Justin Angel, who stated the policy Chamberlain gave is not part of Microsoft's application certification guidelines.

Chamberlain later clarified the policy, saying that its goal is merely to "avoid the scenario whereby a user’s personal cloud storage doesn't end up overwhelmed with a collection of non-human readable content, that is the equivalent of computer files such as INI and XML config files." Chamberlain's statements have since led to a debate between Windows Phone developers in the thread about the lack of backup options for application data and the policy outlined by Chamberlain.

On Saturday, Microsoft responded to privacy concerns about SkyDrive by releasing a statement that said the company uses "strict internal policies" to limit its employees' access to private user data. The statement also said that any content found to be in violation of Microsoft's policies are subject to removal and the possible "temporary or permanent shutdown of an account."

Via: WMPowerUser
Source: MSDN App Hub Forums

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46 Comments

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So just spitballing. If MS decides it can choose what file formats we can store in our private Skydrive area - will you be surprised if encrypted files get added to the list eventually?

Isn't a .DOCX a zip file with a bunch of XML files inside? [/trollolololol]

Now seriously, I think they only mean backing up APP data instead of just... any data? By reading the comments my impression is that everybody understood a different thing.

Stop the confusion... The article author does not explain this very well and people are getting things confused.

This is about an APPLICATION DEVELOPER'S use of SkyDrive, and why Microsoft limits what they can put on a user's SkyDrive account.

This is NOT about you using the SkyDrive App and what you store on SkyDrive.

K?

(Suggest the article author explains this better and that they are just talking about the supported file formats and policies for developers.)

I don't agree with this at all. Windows Phone already doesn't have a device backup option unless you're doing a firmware upgrade... If I have to replace my phone for any reason I appreciate the developers that do offer a SkyDrive backup so I can easily restore my app data.

ggarcia said,
I don't agree with this at all. Windows Phone already doesn't have a device backup option unless you're doing a firmware upgrade... If I have to replace my phone for any reason I appreciate the developers that do offer a SkyDrive backup so I can easily restore my app data.

This changes in just a couple of months to a unified solution handled by Windows Phone. It is better than having developer arbitrarily backup or not backup things.

The majority of your Windows Phone content is backed up online via Live/Skydrive or Synced to your computer like Photos, Music, Videos.

Applications can also store information and settings using secure servers outside of SkyDrive, or other settings/preferences preservation techniques.

The way I understand it is that if I develop an app, I'm not allowed to store any of my app data on the users Skydrive. If that user creates any content with my app he still has the option to save that data to his Skydrive account.

Corriect me if I'm wrong. But if it is this way I don't see the problem

Stoffel said,
The way I understand it is that if I develop an app, I'm not allowed to store any of my app data on the users Skydrive. If that user creates any content with my app he still has the option to save that data to his Skydrive account.

Corriect me if I'm wrong. But if it is this way I don't see the problem

At least someone's getting it. Well done sir. +1 Internets for you!

The whole thing is a non-issue and should have been pretty obvious - developers can't store app data on users' SkyDrive account. If developers need app backup, they need to roll their own system.

I remember hearing somewhere that WP8 was going to have Cloud Saves for games like the Xbox has, lets hope that expands to app data backups.

Ryoken said,
So why can't I use my store for saving/backing up whatever I want [ providing it isn't illegal ] ?

You can store whatever you want. You just can't store files on other user's SkyDrive (i.e. the people that use the apps you develop). It makes perfect sense.

j2006 said,

You can store whatever you want. You just can't store files on other user's SkyDrive (i.e. the people that use the apps you develop). It makes perfect sense.

Why would it make perfect sense? It's the USER'S data, not the developers... The USER should be in custody of their data, and should have the ability to back that up where THEY want to... I disagree completely that the developer should be able to back up this data to somewhere they deem... I think allowing the user to specify where (Their SkyDrive account as an example here) and their credentials is not only fair, but appropriate. It's their data, not the developers...

The title is too confusing, The first time I read it, I understood that dev's wont be able to store there apps backs on THERE Skydrives. What the story says is that the dev's will not have access to user's (the person using the app from the developer) Skydrive.

WaqasTariq said,
The title is too confusing, The first time I read it, I understood that dev's wont be able to store there apps backs on THERE Skydrives. What the story says is that the dev's will not have access to user's (the person using the app from the developer) Skydrive.

No the title is clear... devs can't use the SkyDrive as backup purposes for apps. Apps can share pictures, documents and files to SkyDrive though as long as the user is aware of it.

WaqasTariq said,
The title is too confusing, The first time I read it, I understood that dev's wont be able to store there apps backs on THERE Skydrives. What the story says is that the dev's will not have access to user's (the person using the app from the developer) Skydrive.

Yeah see I thought the same thing! It's my guess that some people here are having the same issue which is causing some of the comments.

Devs cannot store their app's backup files in the USER'S SkyDrive (User = the person who downloaded the app from the store, NOT the dev)

WaqasTariq said,
The title is too confusing, The first time I read it, I understood that dev's wont be able to store there apps backs on THERE Skydrives. What the story says is that the dev's will not have access to user's (the person using the app from the developer) Skydrive.

The whole article is written to be very confusing. If it is confusing developers, imagine the people that think it has to do with SkyDrive in general.

There are file 'types' allowed and not allowed for the developers to access, store, etc. It is this simple. The user can do whatever they freaking want.

This is stupid. Microsoft is trying to kill innovative apps on their own platform, what a stupid policy.

They will save a few bucks on SkyDrive and sink millions more when Windows Phone platform fails as all signs point to Microsoft does not want to support its devs and users.

Like SkyDrive is Microsoft vision for mass profit in the future over Windows Phone. Someone in Microsoft marketing needs to slap whoever made this statement and decision which has made this a headline news article.

Extremely dumb shortsighted move.

twistedddx said,
This is stupid. Microsoft is trying to kill innovative apps on their own platform, what a stupid policy.

They will save a few bucks on SkyDrive and sink millions more when Windows Phone platform fails as all signs point to Microsoft does not want to support its devs and users.

Like SkyDrive is Microsoft vision for mass profit in the future over Windows Phone. Someone in Microsoft marketing needs to slap whoever made this statement and decision which has made this a headline news article.

Extremely dumb shortsighted move.

How is this killing innovative apps? How is this stupid?
If you were a non-tech consumer, would you be happy seeing all those annoying non-readable files and folders on your SkyDrive? Obviously not. They are simply stating the current rules because SkyDrive is a platform for USERS to store their files, not APPS to store files that the user doesn't know what it is. This doesn't mean they don't have other options on the way, because I'm sure they do. They are just telling devs not to use user's SkyDrive's for that purpose. They will probably come up with a hidden AppData area similar to Windows and Office. This is all very reasonable and not stupid at all.

twistedddx said,
This is stupid. Microsoft is trying to kill innovative apps on their own platform, what a stupid policy.

They will save a few bucks on SkyDrive and sink millions more when Windows Phone platform fails as all signs point to Microsoft does not want to support its devs and users.

Like SkyDrive is Microsoft vision for mass profit in the future over Windows Phone. Someone in Microsoft marketing needs to slap whoever made this statement and decision which has made this a headline news article.

Extremely dumb shortsighted move.

So many BS into a single post.
Also, all WinRT apps can store datas into the MS account of the user, using SkyDrive to backup data won't be any issue with WP8/Win8.

ahinson said,
I upload SQL Server backups (split to multiple volumes) to SkyDrive. Am I breaking the rules?

No, this info is in reference to developers backing up Windows Phone app data on SkyDrive automatically.

dagamer34 said,

No, this info is in reference to developers backing up Windows Phone app data on SkyDrive automatically.

So if it's not automatic, it's O.K.? That's not how I read it.

The reality is that this move is designed to save Microsoft money. It knows that most people will use only a fraction of their storage, yet if apps were to take advantage of such space that usage would increase dramatically - it might double or treble the amount of space being used by the average user.

This is a cost saving move.

theyarecomingforyou said,
The reality is that this move is designed to save Microsoft money. It knows that most people will use only a fraction of their storage, yet if apps were to take advantage of such space that usage would increase dramatically - it might double or treble the amount of space being used by the average user.

This is a cost saving move.

LOL not true. XML data files are typically less than 1 MB.

This makes complete sense. SkyDrive is meant for complete user control. They don't want it cluttered with messy backup files that the user (especially non-tech users) might not know what it is, or might delete when the app needs it. It's meant for you to store YOUR files, not your app's files.

My suggestion is for them to set a hidden allocation area that the user can't see (kind of like how Mesh did) specifically for App Data. I'm sure they'll do this or something like it, because Office 2013 stores all your settings in the cloud, but not on your viewable SkyDrive.

j2006 said,
This makes complete sense. SkyDrive is meant for complete user control. They don't want it cluttered with messy backup files that the user (especially non-tech users) might not know what it is, or might delete when the app needs it. It's meant for you to store YOUR files, not your app's files.

My suggestion is for them to set a hidden allocation area that the user can't see (kind of like how Mesh did) specifically for App Data. I'm sure they'll do this or something like it, because Office 2013 stores all your settings in the cloud, but not on your viewable SkyDrive.

That wouldn't be bad.

seebaran said,
Data is data is data. What gives?

Yes because everyone wants their SkyDrive cluttered with INI, XML, or whatever other files that users will be overwhelmed and confused by. I'm sure they have alternatives for this, they are just simply saying what devs currently are not supposed do with SkyDrive. This doesn't mean they don't have something else planned for when the next milestone comes out.

j2006 said,

Yes because everyone wants their SkyDrive cluttered with INI, XML, or whatever other files that users will be overwhelmed and confused by.

Lol. How is that an argument? If you don't want backup files in your skydrive, don't backup files! If you do, then MS should let you, data is data. Looks like I'm off to Google Drive or Dropbox.

Uhyve said,

Lol. How is that an argument? If you don't want backup files in your skydrive, don't backup files! If you do, then MS should let you, data is data. Looks like I'm off to Google Drive or Dropbox.

You're confused. You ARE allowed to backup your OWN files (any type) on your OWN SkyDrive. You can't just put files on OTHER user's SkyDrive's (i.e. the people that use the apps you develop).

Uhyve said,

Lol. How is that an argument? If you don't want backup files in your skydrive, don't backup files! If you do, then MS should let you, data is data. Looks like I'm off to Google Drive or Dropbox.

Exactly. The app can't just upload stuff to your SkyDrive without you giving it your login information and everything. Don't do that if you don't want the data up there... But alternatively, if you WANT to store these backups up there, who is Microsoft to tell you what you as a user can store in your own SkyDrive account...

And these backups and data is the user's property, not the developer's... The developer shouldn't be storing data anywhere other than where the user has specified it go (And that place should be under the user's control).

lunamonkey said,
Does drop box have the same rule? Or can I put any old rubbish in there?

You can put any old rubbish in Dropbox

Depicus said,

You can put any old rubbish in Dropbox

This is literally the only thing I use Skydrive for (plus sharing of compiled code), looks like I'm off to drop box then.

Uhyve said,

This is literally the only thing I use Skydrive for (plus sharing of compiled code), looks like I'm off to drop box then.

Huh? I think you're confused. You ARE allowed to store and share compiled code from YOUR OWN SkyDrive. You just can't put it on your users' SkyDrive's.

Depicus said,

You can put any old rubbish in Dropbox

You can host child pornography online in the cloud with Dropbox?

I can understand this absolutely, from a user perspective you don't want to install some backup app and then see all your available SkyDrive storage evaporate and become filled with backup files (which as stated are non human readable). Also that same user might not know what these files were and deletes them, especially if the SkyDrive app is installed and weird folders and files start syncing down to the desktop.

App devs should setup their own storage and if needed charge for a service, although I cant see app data files to be too large that I would be too expensive.

Also with WP8, this kind of stuff will arrive with the platform wont it?

duddit2 said,
I can understand this absolutely, from a user perspective you don't want to install some backup app and then see all your available SkyDrive storage evaporate and become filled with backup files (which as stated are non human readable). Also that same user might not know what these files were and deletes them, especially if the SkyDrive app is installed and weird folders and files start syncing down to the desktop.

App devs should setup their own storage and if needed charge for a service, although I cant see app data files to be too large that I would be too expensive.

Also with WP8, this kind of stuff will arrive with the platform wont it?

Call me crazy, but I've never installed an app that backed up ANYTHING that didn't explicitly explain this to the user. Thus, I see no reasonable reason (Aside from an app that simply isn't user friendly) for a user to be completely unaware of what is being backed up to the service or how much space this would be using... I've never backed up to SkyDrive, but when performing backups in general I organize these files within a folder that clearly describes what the program the backup is for is... This I would think would be a reasonable expectation from apps using SkyDrive as well and would eliminate this confusion further.

Honestly, I feel this has more to do with the first part of his statement:

"SkyDrive is not intended to be a free backup solution for applications."

But I feel that the control of where this gets backed up should be in the hands of the user, not the developer. If they want it to backup to THEIR SkyDrive account, they should have this option. The space is available to them regardless, it simply should not matter how they use it.

M_Lyons10 said,

Call me crazy, but I've never installed an app that backed up ANYTHING that didn't explicitly explain this to the user. Thus, I see no reasonable reason (Aside from an app that simply isn't user friendly) for a user to be completely unaware of what is being backed up to the service or how much space this would be using... I've never backed up to SkyDrive, but when performing backups in general I organize these files within a folder that clearly describes what the program the backup is for is... This I would think would be a reasonable expectation from apps using SkyDrive as well and would eliminate this confusion further.

Honestly, I feel this has more to do with the first part of his statement:

"SkyDrive is not intended to be a free backup solution for applications."

But I feel that the control of where this gets backed up should be in the hands of the user, not the developer. If they want it to backup to THEIR SkyDrive account, they should have this option. The space is available to them regardless, it simply should not matter how they use it.

Well I would also do this, as you do, but I'm not talking about you and me or anyone with an ounce of computer knowledge. I work with people all day everyday (IT Support) and you simply would not believe the lack of general knowledge out there. WP is all about the user experience, along with SkyDrive. This means taking control and making sure that users get what they expect to get, and NO Surprises.

One of the reasons for iPhone and iTunes success, is the 'it just works' mentality of their framework.

I do agree though that this could also be partly due to MS wanting app devs to get their own azure account (or AWS or whatever) for the cloud backup services.

Finally I ranted a little, and of course a single app backup wouldn't use up all your storage, so my bad on that. but you could still have a situation where a random folder appears on a users SkyDrive, now even if they would have been told on installing the app and they have ignored it or just not read it - does not matter, it will still effect the overall 'it just works' feeling of WP and skydrive.

I think they are bang on the money by focusing on the core UX and making it rock solid for the masses and then slowly (hopefully) slipping in more advanced power user stuff as and when its ready.

duddit2 said,

Well I would also do this, as you do, but I'm not talking about you and me or anyone with an ounce of computer knowledge. I work with people all day everyday (IT Support) and you simply would not believe the lack of general knowledge out there. WP is all about the user experience, along with SkyDrive. This means taking control and making sure that users get what they expect to get, and NO Surprises.

One of the reasons for iPhone and iTunes success, is the 'it just works' mentality of their framework.

I do agree though that this could also be partly due to MS wanting app devs to get their own azure account (or AWS or whatever) for the cloud backup services.

Finally I ranted a little, and of course a single app backup wouldn't use up all your storage, so my bad on that. but you could still have a situation where a random folder appears on a users SkyDrive, now even if they would have been told on installing the app and they have ignored it or just not read it - does not matter, it will still effect the overall 'it just works' feeling of WP and skydrive.

I think they are bang on the money by focusing on the core UX and making it rock solid for the masses and then slowly (hopefully) slipping in more advanced power user stuff as and when its ready.

I don't disagree with you. Not all IT people or dev's handle things all that transparently (Which is a BAD practice), and some users just don't read prompts... But I would think that if they are entering in their SkyDrive credentials, they would maybe read the message detailing why the app needed this and what would be going on there.

I don't disagree with you one bit about making sure that things "just work" and keep a focus on the user experience. That is certainly a great idea as far as I'm concerned. I just feel that this particular move by Microsoft probably has more to do with their wanting developers to use a paid option. Even though, this is the user's data as far as I'm concerned, and I don't feel that the developer should be holding the backups or settings. The user should have the option to store this wherever, including in their SkyDrive if they so desire.

It just seems to me that Microsoft is looking at this more as if the data is the developers, rather than the user's...