Get into the MESH!

clip_image002Trying to keep files synched between home and work PCs is a difficult task at the best of times which usually involves a plethora of memory sticks that are all too easily lost and is dependant on remembering to update, If the process above rings bells for you personally maybe its time to tap into the synching possibilities of cloud computing. For nearly a year now I’ve been using the beta version of Microsoft’s superb (and free) Live Mesh service and since then my collection of memory sticks have been happily gathering dust. Live Mesh (www.mesh.com) is  a cloud based synching solution that Microsoft claim enables you to keep ‘Your digital life, always with you’ irrespective of whether you’re working on a PC, Mac or mobile phone (web enabled). In essence with Live Mesh, you can synchronize files with all of your devices by installing a small utility on the host device, making sure you always have the latest versions of files to hand. Even better still, if your using a computer that’s not part of your Mesh you can still access your files through the Mesh portal. In addition Live Mesh is perfectly suited for collaborative work allowing users to easily share folders, with revisions and drafts from all users seamlessly updating on all participating devices. And finally the icing on the cake, if you’re working on one computer and need a program or file (not included in your synched folders) you can use Live Mesh to connect to the other computer remotely and access its desktop as if you were sitting right in front of it.

To get started with Live Mesh you first of all need a free Windows Live ID (if you’ve already subscribed to any Windows Live service like Hotmail, SkyDrive etc. you’ll already have one), next you need to visit the Live Mesh site @ www.mesh.com and select the option to Add Device, then simply download the Mesh software and select the folders / files that you want to sync with other computers by adding the folders to the online desktop or in Windows Explorer itself (right click on any folder and click ‘Add Folder to Live Mesh’).

There are of course limitations and issues with Mesh, probably most obvious is the 5GB storage allowance which initially may seem generous but start adding your entire documents and music collections and this storage will disappear rapidly. Secondly and probably more concerning is the lack of a backup if files are deleted, inadvertently delete a file on one computer and it will automatically be removed from all other synched devices. I realise that the synchronisation functionality of Mesh is one of it’s biggest draws but the inclusion of an online recycle bin would give more peace of mind, particularly when sharing folders with multiple users.

With all that said I think Live Mesh is a superb product, there are of course similar services available (albeit some with limited free accounts) from the likes of Humyo (www.humyo.com), Box (www.box.net), A Drive (www.adrive.com) and Microsoft’s own Live Sync and Skydrive but none of these offer the same balance of synchronisation, cloud storage, multi-platform support and remote access  for free.

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