Liking Windows Live Sync Beta, Mostly


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Since Live Mesh, more formally known as the Mesh Operating Environment,  launched I have been a dedicated user. With the free 5 GB of online storage space I have synced and backed up 9 of my machines, both physical and virtual, with my key working set of files. These files are my teaching materials, research project files and some administration information. Whenever I acquired a new machine, I simply installed the free Live Mesh client and within a few hours (Mesh is not fast) all my current key files were available there. Any change to any file on any machine is immediately synced to the web store and all machines. Moreover on any Internet-connected machine I can upload and download any file. It has always been a puzzle to me why everyone is not using Mesh as Macs are supported as well. Backup and sync with Mesh are perfectly sorted.

But now we have the phase out of Mesh to be replaced by Windows Live Sync and Windows Live Devices which are now fully integrated into the free Windows Live Essentials wave 4. The public beta of Live Essentials which includes Live Sync is now available. Since Mesh has been so reliable I decided to switch to Live Sync Beta over the last few days.

Installing Live Sync warns you that it will replace Mesh and require you to re-sync with the web store, fair enough. I synced up my files from one machine to the new web store without a problem. Then I expected Live Sync would realise the files on all other machines would be identical and require no syncing. No such luck. All the files on all machines need resyncing – a real negative, even though this process is completely automatic.

Another limitation of Live Sync is that its free web store is now reduced to 2 GB from 5 GB, I guess to come in line with other free online sync services. Fortunately I had been careful in my Mesh file collection which had never exceeded 1.7 GB. Thus this new limit has not effected me, at least for the moment. A positive is that the Live Sync web store is now completely integrated into your free 25 GB SkyDrive used for Office Live, photos, videos and sharing stuff.

Despite the resyncing I was soon up and running but then hit the next snag. My ancient office machine is still running Windows XP which cannot support the new Live Sync, presumably a less than subtle hint to upgrade to Vista or 7. However, my home desktops, a several laptops and netbooks are fine and are all connected quickly to my new Live Sync ‘mesh’.

Not only was Mesh fairly slow in its syncing but it was a notorious processor hog. For my machines at least, Live Sync uses considerably less processor and seems much quicker to sync. The visual feedback and progress bars of Mesh, though, have not carried over in full to Live Sync. As yet we get only terse indications of sync checking and file transfers in the new Live Sync dashboard shown in the last image.

It is good to see the remote connections features of Mesh carry over to Live Sync. Provided it is enabled on the remote machine it is possible to connect, login and use the other remote machines in your mesh. The connection experience seems smoother and more responsive.

So in keeping with my academic assessment procedures I would award Live Sync an 85% so far, and hope for more marks in future as we move out of beta.

A certain social media guru and librarian of my acquaintance also resident on the Gold Coast would probably kill to have been using these sync services when her laptop went missing this week.

Filed under: Cloud applications, Web 2.0, Working online

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Michael Rees
Mijare Consulting
I am an IT academic interested in Web 2.0 application development and use, social media tools for organisations and individuals, virtualisation and cloud computing applications.


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