jamieJamie Davis, VP, Education, Product Management, and Quality Control | Safe Systems

UPDATE: Microsoft Begins SkyDrive Rebranding, Rolls Out OneDrive

Office 2013 is Microsoft’s first big push into integrating Office applications and Office files into “the cloud.”  As such, there are a few options you might want to be aware of to ensure you maintain the same file management settings you’ve been using in the past.

By default, Office 2013 applications ask if you want to save any document to the SkyDrive as the first option. SkyDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage solution, and opens up new opportunities for collaboration, sharing documents, and accessing needed files from anywhere. Saving files to the cloud BY DEFAULT also opens up a new can of worms for security-minded businesses; by allowing your employees to do this on each machine now means that, at a minimum, you have to perform additional vendor management. If you’re forced to perform that vendor management after your employees are already saving documents to the SkyDrive, is the tail wagging the dog? The best thing to do is to have a proactive discussion about cloud storage and put a policy in place stating the financial institution’s stance.

If your institution has decided not to use SkyDrive or cloud storage options in general, then the first place to address this is at the firewall. Speak with your firewall vendor about what options you have to block access to SkyDrive and other cloud storage options, such as Dropbox.

Remember: Office 2013 actually offers each user the option to save to the Sky Drive by default; however, if you prefer to eliminate this option, then there are a couple of ways to disable SkyDrive. At the most basic level, you can disable it on a machine-by-machine basis when you install Office. You can also remove this functionality across a large set of devices via the Group Policy Editor.

Remove Sky Drive as default Save option in Word:

When choosing to save a document in Office 2013, it does not open up the “Save as” dialog box but instead opens a screen where you can decide whether you want to save the file on the local hard drive or on your SkyDrive. This may provide the user with more options than your security policies allow. To correct this, open Word and follow the changes below. Making this change in Word should adjust the behavior of all Office 2013 products (Excel, Power Point, Outlook, etc). Here are the steps:

  1. Start at the “Save As” screen.

Skydrive 1

  1. Chose “Options” on the bottom left.

Skydrive 2

  1. Check the option “Don’t show the Backstage when opening or saving files”

Skydrive 3

  1. Remove the check from the option “Show additional places for saving…” (sometimes listed as “Always show Sign in to SkyDrive”).
  2. Place a check on the option “Save to computer by default”.

While this is a relatively quick and painless process on an individual machine, it can become a hassle if you plan to implement Office 2013 across a large number of workstations. In these cases you may wish to use group policy to enforce a configuration. If you have used group policy before, the settings are pretty easy; however, if you have never used group policy before, then please have your IT provider perform these changes. Making changes to group policy without an understanding of how it works could lead to no change taking place or could even cause a disruptive network event.

Disabling SkyDrive by using the Group Policy Editor

To begin, open the Group Policy Editor on your domain controller. If you do not see the settings below, then you will need to download the latest ADM files from Microsoft for Office 2013.

  1. The settings can be found under User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Microsoft Office 2013 > Miscellaneous.
  2. Select the Block signing into Office” option in the list of settings.
  3. In the Properties window, click “Enable” and select the option “None Allowed.”

Using SkyDrive or Office 2013 and SkyDrive are legitimate choices.  But it should just be a choice you choose, not adopted by default.  With more applications taking advantage of cloud based technologies, this is just one of many applications that will presume access to cloud based storage or products is acceptable for all.  Before upgrading any software, read the update or release notes and when possible, install it on your machine first.  And lastly, keep these two points in mind when installing software going forward:  1) It’s always easier to add features later than to remove them after the fact.  2) It’s easier to make decisions about what is acceptable and what isn’t if the institution has well defined policies.

9 comments

  1. Office 2013. Why would they ever make cloud access available by default? This is not acceptable. A huge security hole.

    “Get Skydrive for Windows and take all your company’s files with you anywhere”

    Ridiculous.

  2. This is just what I was looking for. Unfortunately, it still takes an extra click to save compared to Office 2010. When I click File>Save As, it should automatically open My Documents. I don’t want to click Computer every single time.

  3. The steps outlined above to disable SD from the save dialogue do not work, at least on my install.

    1. I’ve seen a few different screens from Microsoft on how to do this. Sometimes the “SAVE” check boxes are different. I’m not sure at this point what causes the different screens and options but it most likely has to do with the version or updates that are applied. I guess the good news is the default save option can be changed from the SkyDrive. The bad news is the settings to do so may differ at time from those shown here.

  4. Hi!

    Is there any way I can stop skydrive from opening a shared file when the person whom I shared with clicked the link? I just wanted them to download the file.

    Thank you so much for your help.

    Regards,
    Esa

  5. This is ridiculous!!! the amount of money companies have to spend on their IT department to remove something they didn’t ask for. This is really making Microsoft not a cost effective product. Its in your face like it or not. The option should have been the opposite, offer the sky drive option and not force companies to spend more money and time to figure out a way to protect themselves. Open Office here we come!!!

  6. So Microsoft, a company with data centers in several completely unsecure countries with no data governance, has decided to force everyone to use their cloud services. How ironic. How utterly and truly stupid. Well I can tell you this much, with alternatives now out there in the Linux world that are free and with Microsoft shafting me on our EA I can tell you for certain this is 1 Fortune 100 company that will be switching. I would strongly recommend others do the same. Microsoft can no longer claim the cost of support is to much vs their cost of licensing. Join us and tell Microsoft to go take a long walk off a short pier. Don’t buy or pay for their crap software anymore. ROI on Microsoft vs Linux or apple is not there anymore.

  7. Way to go Microsoft! The ONLY reason to continue using your products is because of security and control. That’s your place in the market. But you’ve decided to undermine the only thing you’re good at and introduce data leakage as a new “feature” in your productivity suite. No way we’re rolling this out.

  8. Seems it does not disable the Save As in the smae manner however on the copy I just purchased today.

    BTW Linux or Apple? Apple? Why pay twice as much for the same components! Linus is OK, but I would not touch an Apple with your false teeth.

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