How-To Geek

How to Migrate From Windows Live Mesh to SkyDrive

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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.

Read More: How to Sync External Folders with Your SkyDrive

Peer-to-Peer Syncing

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

Comments (10)

  1. Wasup-wi-da

    Thanks for the info.

    But here’s a thought. Why even use cloud services at all when you can probably just run your own file server yourself on your own hardware? Because it seems to me that these cloud storage service providers are constantly playing fast and loose with their legal terms or are just not up to the task of fulfilling their original promises. And if a multi-trillion dollar company like Microsoft can’t fulfill their promise to store your stuff then why do it?

    Here’s another reason to maybe think twice about cloud storage. Check out the recent fiasco with Instagram claiming “rights” to sell their customers photo’s! (I’d provide the 12/17/12 news article from CNet but every time I paste a URL it seems to get my comments pulled.)

    I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m simply questioning why.

  2. ReadandShare

    Great article! I have been using SkyDrive for almost a year now and really like it.


    One good thing about the cloud is offsite storage — which a private file server may or may not provide — depending on where you locate yours. Another good thing is that unlike with a private file server, I can access my files anywhere there is internet connection — without need to keep a file server turned on at all times.

    I store my critical data files encrypted — so the chance of MS reading my data is slim to none.

    I backup my data to an external drive right next to my computer. It’s good to have a second set backed up offsite. Not that I trust MS fully (although so far so good) — but I trust Google a lot less.

  3. ReadandShare


    I really should add that depending on our set up, needs and preferences…. both cloud and server are perfectly viable solutions. I prefer cloud because of my own circumstances.

    And the last sentence above just reflects my disdain for certain Google practices — nothing to do with Wasup-wi-da’s post.

  4. Cat Cinq

    The CUBBY element that allows PC to PC synchronisation is called DirectSYNC. Now that CUBBY prices have been advertised it seems that DirectSYNC is only available as part of the paid for subscription.

    Anyone know any different?

  5. Ron

    Until a month ago I was very anti-online storage. One reason being security, wouldn’t store anything online that I would really rather not share. Second reason being change of plans, the online site terminates its service as ‘Widows Live Mesh’ is doing now.

    A month ago I gave in and started using ‘Sky Drive’ for friends to view ‘screenshot help tutorial’ videos without splitting into several parts for emailing. Despite the privacy settings I chose, I don’t feel safe with MS protecting a thing. Sort of like hiring a safe cracker to guard my office safe.

    Thanks to this article & ‘LogMeIn’s Cubby’ it’s TLC (toodle loo chump) to ‘Skydrive’
    I’ve been using LogMeIn Free to help friends remotely for 6 years. I used it so much that I actually felt guilty and paid for a year subscription once.

    There is no doubt in my mind that ‘Cubby’ is a perfect match for me. With AES 256-bit encryption.

  6. NSDCars5

    My favourite “classic” solution: Carry your pen drive with PortableApps and some version of Linux (BackTrack for me) everywhere you go!

  7. Tony

    I don’t put everything in the cloud. Dropbox is for things I absolutely want to get on my tablet now. Box is for my books and comics. Google Drive is for non-personal items that I want easy access to later, but don’t feel the need to keep a local copy (like manuals for other people’s items or pdf docs that are interesting reads). And those are great, but what I really am trying to track down, more than the perfect cloud solution, is the perfect lan sync solution. Trying out Synchron and Syncback at the moment.

  8. Rob

    I’m still extremely pissed Mesh is going away… I loved that service :(

  9. Karsten Jensen

    I have been using Live Mesh and it predecessors from the beginng and I have always been fond of the tool. And today I have been testing SkyDrive to see if it would be a solution for me for syncing files between my Win PC and my MacBook.

    And it is not…. SkyDrive wont sync empty folders from the web and I simply do not want to put my folders of data inside the SkyDrive folder – if I wanted that I might as well use Dropbox….

    I still want to be able to pin point my folders I want to sync. And the million dollar question is – how do I do that – what program will do that?

    Has anyone any good recomandations?

  10. wsh2

    I too (very much) hate losing Live Mesh. Although its present incarnation is buggy, for rapid (near real time) synch it very nicely got the job done.

    In lieu of Mesh file synch, two very good products to consider are SugarSynch and GoodSync.

    SugarSync offers near (real time) synchronization, is free (5gb), and very capably allows you to share your live windows folders (and any other folders you may want to add). The downside of SugarSync is only one account implementation is allowed per computer. What this means is if you have a multi-user computer with separate sign-ons for ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’, or ‘Home’ and ‘Work’.. only one of the accounts can be used.

    GoodSync is a very good, up and coming product. GoodSync can synch with virtually everything. Another computer on your home network, another computer on your home network over the internet, your work computer, Amazon, Google, and/or SkyDrive. The only limit on the amount of data you can share is the amount of storage on the receiving device. The only downsides to GoodSync are it is NOT a (near) real time synchronizer – you have to hard schedule when you want updates to be done.. and.. while its features are quite promising.. it is a product still very much in development – expect a bug or three to crop up. Fortunately, the vendor response is prompt. But quite frankly, the frequency of software updates can be a real pain in the “George Bush”.


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