Online Synchronization Between Your PCs and the Microsoft Cloud
Microsoft will soon be integrating features of Windows Live Mesh into Windows Live Sync and Windows Live SkyDrive. For those of you who are unfamiliar with these terms, all of them relate to Microsoft’s free, consumer-based, cloud-driven applications for PC synchronization and online storage. These applications constitute part of Live Services, which are one of the building blocks of Microsoft’s Windows Azure Services Platform. All of the following applications use your Windows Live ID for authentication.
Windows Live Mesh allows you to synchronize your files across multiple computers and with the cloud. There are two distinct features in Windows Live Mesh called Live Desktop and Live Mesh Remote Desktop. Live Desktop is an online storage service that allows synchronized folders to be accessible via a website. The Live Mesh Remote Desktop feature allows you to control your PCs from anywhere on the Internet.
Windows Live Sync is a Microsoft product that offers some overlapping functions with Windows Live Mesh. However, the current version of Windows Live Sync does not allow you to synchronize storage with the cloud, and therefore both computers must be online to synch with each other.
Windows Live SkyDrive is a file storage and sharing service that allows to upload your files to the Microsoft cloud and access them from a web browser. Limits are 25GB free personal storage, with individual files limited to 50MB.
Microsoft will soon be discontinuing the Windows Live Mesh product and rolling its features into Windows Live Sync and Windows Live Sky Drive. The major change involves the incorporation of the Windows Live Sync product into the Windows Live Essentials package, which comes available as a Microsoft Update.
The new Windows Live Sync product will inherit many features from the Windows Live Mesh product, including
- Folders can be synced on online storage for access when computers are offline
- Remote Desktop in conjunction with web-based browsing of folders
- IE and Office settings can be synced across PCs
- Can link Windows Live Sync to SkyDrive synced storage
- Large files (up to 50GB) can be synced between PCs; there is a 2GB limit for files synced with SkyDrive
- Can be synced with Macs
Refer to this link for a feature comparison between Windows Live Sync and Windows Live SkyDrive:
A beta of the new Windows Live Sync is expected to be released later this month (June 2010).
- Visit the Windows Live Sync page to download and install: https://sync.live.com.
- Find out ten things you need to know about Live Mesh (2008): See here for article.
- Live Sync FAQ. See here. (This was published on the Windows Live Team Blog but was later removed. This link references a cached copy.)
- My original source of information: ZD Net: Microsoft opens up on Live Mesh’s future
To get started, you’ll need a Microsoft Windows Live ID account. And you’ll need to install this application on two computers. Once installed, you sign in with your Windows Live ID and begin synching.
Here’s a quick screenshot of how Windows Live Sync allows access to my work computer’s file system without having to use a VPN connection:
Some things to be aware of before you get started (taken from Windows Live Help):
- Your computer must be online (The status of your computer. When you use Sync, the status of your computer is "online" when your computer is connected to the Internet and running the Sync software.) for files to synchronize. You can’t view files or the contents of a folder on the Sync website.
- If you created a folder for synchronizing, and you delete a file with a .p2p extension (A placeholder file used by Sync that you may see when you use on-demand synchronization.) from the folder, the placeholder, as well as the actual file, is deleted from every computer that shares the folder.
- Synchronizing Microsoft Office Outlook .pst files between computers is not recommended because these files constantly change. This can result in frequent sync errors and files that aren’t updated.
- Keep in mind that Sync can’t merge data between database files. If you use a Microsoft Access, SQL (Structured query language. SQL is a standardized query language for requesting information from a database.) , or ACT! (A contact and customer management database.) database, you can synchronize database files to another computer so that they can be edited and viewed on multiple computers, but a database itself can’t be opened or modified on two computers at the same time.
- Sync is a secure peer-to-peer network (Two or more computers that share a direct connection.) . Only you can view or access files in your personal synchronized folder. To ensure privacy, Sync encrypts all files exchanged over the network using AES (Advanced encryption standard. An algorithm used for securing data transferred over the Internet.) and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer. An encryption format that helps keep information secure while it is sent across the Internet.) , and authenticates files using RSA (A cryptographic technology that is the industry standard for high-quality encryption, especially for data sent over the Internet. The acronym stands for Rivest, Shamir, and Adelman, the inventors of the technique.)
- You can synchronize up to 20 folders containing up to 20,000 files each. Files can’t be larger than 4 gigabytes (GB).
- If you are synchronizing files between a computer running Windows Vista and a computer running Windows XP, and you try to synchronize the Documents folder on Windows Vista with the My Documents folder on Windows XP, you’ll get an error message. To solve this, synchronize the individual subfolders within Documents and My Documents.
- Sync doesn’t work with mapped network drives.