I can not access my files on my lumina 822 sd card. Researching various forums indicates WP8 has no intention of allowing a WP8 Phone owner access to their own personal files i.e. file explorer, unless you are attached by USB to a computer OR SKYDRIVE. I don't believe i need to put my contacts and files, photos or whatever out in a CLOUD. I believe this is a conspiracy to keep tabs on everyone or to allow CHINA a shot at everyone's information. Clouds are not secure anymore than my shoe laces staying tied. What do you think US citizens? We are addicted to staying connected and we are willing to pay for it. Whose terms should we be bound by? All wireless providers believe they can STUNT their operating systems. We are being tricked. I do not recommend any WP8 phone system until file access and MS Outlook contacts can be synced without a cloud. Bring a warrant if you want to know who my personal contacts are or what my files say.
Your files are not stored on the cloud unless you put said files on Skydrive. You can also turn off backups so that all other settings, text messages, etc. are not backup on Skydrive. So you can't browse your files via a file explorer and you have to connect the phone to your computer, what's the big deal?
Yes your contacts are stored on the cloud but are you really that paranoid about your contacts? You really think the government is really that interested in your contact list stored in the cloud? The government track people by their emails and phone calls so if you have done either to your contacts than looking at your contact list online is useless to them.
You have a better chance with privacy on WP8 than Android which is owned by Google who by very nature is to track what you do and sell it. iPhone they track what you do and how you use the phone as well. They aren't fully cloud enabled yet but its getting there.
I understand your concerns on privacy. I have them too. But you need to look at the big picture. Most of your privacy goes out the window by using a cellphone in the first place. Most all of the freemail aggregates data. I remember 20 years ago everyone was worried about Microsoft and the dominance they had. Google is twice the monster that MS ever was. I would trust my data with MS long before google.