Windows Live Mesh is set to shut down on February 13, 2013. If you still depend on Windows Live Mesh, you’ll need to find some alternatives soon. Remember to download your files before the deadline, too!
While SkyDrive is the successor to Windows Live Mesh, it has a different design philosophy and offers less features. Many Live Mesh users may be surprised at the missing features when they transition to SkyDrive.
Sync Files Across PCs and Share Folders, Fetch Any File
If you only use Windows Live Mesh to synchronize a folder of files between your computers and store them online, Microsoft’s SkyDrive is the perfect replacement. It gives you a single, Dropbox-style folder that automatically synchronizes whatever you put into it. The contents of this folder are also available on the SkyDrive website.
SkyDrive also offers the ability to share folders with others — you’ll find the sharing options on the SkyDrive website, not within Windows Explorer on your desktop.
For a more detailed overview of how the new SkyDrive works, read: How to Sync Files & Fetch Unsynced Files with SkyDrive
Sync Any Folder
Unlike Windows Live Mesh, SkyDrive does not offer the ability to synchronize any folder on your computer. If you still want to do this, you can create a symbolic link (also known as a “symlink” or “soft link”) with the mklink command.
You’ll have to run the same command on each computer you use. While this is not the ideal solution and isn’t as user-friendly, it will allow you to sync any folder on your computer with SkyDrive.
SkyDrive no longer offers the PC-to-PC syncing feature found in Windows Live Mesh. Microsoft wants to encourage you to use the cloud and store your files there, not on your local computers. You can still synchronize your files between your computers — but you’ll have to go through the cloud.
LogMeIn’s Cubby offers a DirectSync feature that can synchronize files and folders directly between your computers, skipping the cloud entirely. Many former Live Mesh users seem pleased with this service.
Remote Desktop Access
SkyDrive doesn’t have an integrated remote desktop feature. If you only want remote access to your files, you can use the Remote Fetch feature in SkyDrive. With Remote Fetch, you can remotely “fetch” any file from a powered-on computer. This is ideal if you only need remote access to your files.
If you need full remote desktop access, you’ll have to use another solution. Windows includes a built-in Remote Desktop feature, but it’s more difficult to use over the Internet and the remote desktop server isn’t available in Home versions of Windows.
To use Windows’ Remote Desktop feature securely over the Internet, you may want to try a VPN solution like LogMeIn Hamachi. Once you’ve set up a VPN and connected to it, you can use the Remote Desktop feature in Windows and remote desktop into other computers connected to the VPN.
You may also want to try another solution, such as TeamViewer, VNC, or the remote desktop feature integrated into Google Chrome.
Internet Explorer Favorites Sync
SkyDrive does not offer synchronization of the favorite websites you have saved in your Internet Explorer browser. However, if you’re using Windows 8, favorites synchronization for Internet Explorer 10 is now built-in.
If you’re using a previous version of Windows, you’ll need a different favorites synchronization solution. We’ve covered a few other options, including placing your Favorites folder in the SkyDrive folder or using the third-party Xmarks browser add-on.
Microsoft Office Settings Sync
SkyDrive does not offer the ability to synchronize your Microsoft Office settings between your computers. If you like this feature, you’ll be happy to know it’s now integrated into Office 2013. Users that depend on Live Mesh to synchronize their Office settings between computers should upgrade to Office 2013 for a more seamless experience.
Do you prefer another alternative to the Windows Live Mesh features listed here? Leave a comment and share any solutions you’ve found!
Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.
- Published 12/21/12