There is a story, Skydrive misery: private files monitored, Xbox and mail access revoked, over at MyCE.com that is getting a bit of traffic on Twitter and Reddit in the last couple of days.
The basic premise of the story is that a user was apparently banned from all of their Microsoft related accounts due to files they were storing in the Microsoft SkyDrive Cloud storage service. According to the story the files were not being shared and were located in a private folder. As a result of this folder of files, around 9GB worth, the user was unable to access any of their Microsoft related services including Hotmail, Xbox or Windows Phone Marketplace.
As the story continues it reveals the user was told by Microsoft Support that he was banned because of files being stored in SkyDrive that violated the EULA of the service. Details about what the folder contained were missing from the story so there is no way to know what was specifically wrong. I tend to believe though that if the files were not in violation of the EULA those details would have been provided to support the discussion of being banned for no reason.
There is also no clarity in this story of why all of the users accounts with Microsoft were shut down. It could have been a mistake by support intending to just shut down the SkyDrive service but it could have also been other issues across the users services that are connected to their Microsoft Account (aka Windows Live ID). With the lack of detail about the type of files involved in this it is also possible we are not hearing the entire story when it comes to why complete access was shut down. Maybe the type of files had something to do with that. I guess we are left to wonder about a lot of details on this situation.
Ultimately, whether the user had files which violated the EULA or not, this is a story of caution about storing your files in the cloud. If you read Microsoft’s SkyDrive EULA or the Dropbox EULA you will find similar entries in each about their ultimate control over the data you store there.
Microsoft reserves the right, at its sole discretion, and without any obligation to do so, to review and remove user-created services and content at will and without notice, and delete content and accounts. Microsoft reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to ban participants or terminate access to services.
We reserve the right to suspend or end the Services at any time, with or without cause, and with or without notice. For example, we may suspend or terminate your use if you are not complying with these Terms, or use the Services in any way that would cause us legal liability or disrupt others’ use of the Services.
As you can see the bottom line is that either of these services, and I am sure many other online services, can stop you from using their service at anytime and for any reason. I also think that is an extreme situation but it should remind us that cloud storage of our files is a service which we depend on someone else to provide just like we do our ISP’s for Internet access and our favorite supermarket for food.
One of the great features in each of these cloud storage options is that you keep a copy of your files on your local hard drive yet have the flexibility of access from any connected device.
I recommend you back up your cloud storage as diligently as you do your data on your computer and if you are not doing either then maybe it is time to start that habit!