How-To Geek

Getting Started With the New Windows Live Mesh 2011


Recently Microsoft has been indecisive with it’s Live Mesh / Sync cloud based services. After introducing Live Mesh Public Beta and some renaming, it’s now called Live Mesh 2011, and we’ll show you how to get started with it.

Microsoft Live Mesh 2011 allows you to use “the cloud” to sync, store, and share you files between PCs and Macs. If you were testing the Live Mesh Beta, you should have recently received an email from Microsoft letting you know the Beta will stop working March, 31st 2011. The following is an excerpt from their email.

“You’re receiving this message because you used the Live Mesh beta from Microsoft. On March 31, 2011, the beta of Live Mesh will end, and the Live Mesh beta will stop working. After March 31, you won’t be able to access any files stored online in your Live Desktop or connect to your PCs remotely using the Live Mesh software. Your files will also stop syncing between your computers and your Live Mesh online storage. Please read below for actions we recommend you take.”

Keep reading for how to install and use the latest version of Live Mesh.

Install & Setup Live Mesh 2011

Live Mesh is included in the Windows Live Essentials 2011 suite (link below) and if you’re using the beta, you’ll need to uninstall it first. With the Live Essentials installer, one thing to point out is a new screen that offers to install the entire set of programs, or just the ones you want. Unless you want to install everything for some reason, just select the ones you want to Install.


Remember to uninstall the beta first if you’re using it, and you’ll need to install it on each computer you want to sync up.


When installation is complete you can start using your new programs Including Live Mesh – You might need to restart after installation.


You’ll find it in the Start Menu under All Programs \ Windows Live.


Alternately you can type Mesh into the Search box and select Windows Live Mesh from the results in Vista or Windows 7.


The first time you launch it, you’ll be prompted to sign in with your Windows Live ID. If you find you’re using it a lot, you might want to select to remember your ID and Password and sign in automatically.


Now you can start using Live Mesh 2011 to sync data between your computers and other compatible devices.


Sync Files & Folders Between Computers

First we’ll take a look at syncing data between Windows computers – there’s also support for Macs but we weren’t able to test it out at the time of this article. Launch Live Mesh and click on the Sync a folder hyperlink.


Then browse to the folder you want to sync and hit the Sync button.


Now select the computer(s) you want to sync your folder with.


The synchronization kicks off…you can see it running on each computer you’re syncing with.



Then after the process has completed, you’ll be able to see the files were synced successfully.


Live Mesh runs in the background and monitors the synced folders for any changes. Any time you add a new file or folder to the synced directories, both machines will be updated. You can open it from an icon that lives in the Notification Area on the Taskbar.


By default, Network Locations aren’t able to be synced with Live Mesh 2011, however, it is compatible with Server 2003, 2008, and Windows Home Server Version 1.


Sync Folders with Live Mesh & SkyDrive

One of the often overlooked free online storage services from Microsoft is SkyDrive. With the new version of Mesh, it borrows 5GB of storage you can use to sync your data.

Open Live Mesh and select Sync a folder, navigate to the folder you want to sync, and click the Sync button.



This time instead of clicking another PC, you want to select SkyDrive synced storage and click OK.


You’ll see a message that the files are being synced and after the process completes.


To see the folders and files you synced to your synced storage, click on SkyDrive synced storage and sign into your Live account if prompted.


Here we can see the Excel documents folder that we synced to our SkyDrive. Click on the folder to view its content.


Now you can access the files and download them, or open directly on your machine. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a way to open them in MS Office Web Apps from the Synced Storage section of SkyDrive, which is inconvenient, and a bit confusing.

You’ll also see other machines the files are synced with, the sync status, and the amount of space you have in SkyDrive synced storage.


Sync Folders with Other Computers & SkyDrive

You can actually choose multiple machines and your SkyDrive Synced Storage at once. For instance, if we wanted to sync our Office Docs folder between other computers and SkyDrive Synced Storage, click on Select devices.


Then select where you want to sync the folder. Here we are going to select our Netbook and SkyDrive Synced Storage.


Remotely Connect to Another Computer

Another neat feature with Live Mesh 2011 is the ability to remotely connect to another computer. So for example maybe you want to connect to to your Work computer at Home or vice-versa.


If you haven’t done so already you’ll need to click on Allow remote connections to this computer on each of the machines you want to access remotely.


For example here in our list of computers, not all of them are set up for remote access.


Click on Connect to this computer, then wait for the connection to be established.


Here we connected to our Netbook – both running Windows 7. Now you’ll be able to access your other machine just like as if you were sitting in front of it.


From the bar at the top of the Live Mesh remote screen you can control different aspects of the other computer like sending Ctrl+Alt+Del.


When you are remotely connected to another computer, and another person was using it, they’ll be locked out.


If you want to show the desktop and what you’re doing, select Show my action on “computer name”.


Click on the magnifying glass icon to change the size of the display while you’re connected to another machine.


Here is an example where we connected to a Vista computer.


When you’re done with a session just disconnect from the other machine.


Sync Program Settings Between Computers

Another thing you might want to do is sync Internet Explorer and MS Office settings between machines. In Live Mesh 2011 under Program Settings, click Turn on syncing next to each one you want to sync. Do this for each machine you want program settings synced to.


For one of our computers, IE 9 has the standard MSN bookmarks, and we turned on IE syncing.


And it quickly brought over bookmarks from the other PC.


This should get you started with Windows Live Mesh 2011 to sync your files and folders between computers. The service is still rather clunky, semi-confusing, and some users might just want to stick with Dropbox for folder syncing.

Live Mesh 2011 will work with Vista, Server 2008, OS X 10.5 or higher, Server 2003, and Windows Home Server Version 1…unfortunately they left out the love for XP.

Download Windows Live Mesh 2011

How about you? Have you tried out the new Live Mesh? What is your opinion of it so far? Leave a comment and let us know.

Brian Burgess worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. He's been a tech blogger and journalist for the past seven years, and can be found on his about me page or Google+

  • Published 10/15/10

Comments (31)

  1. James

    Nifty. Can’t wait to see how all of this tie into wp7.

  2. Cherno

    I used Live Sync before and synced my netbook and Home-PC. Notes, Files, Documents. It all works well. Live Mesh is very easy to use, syncs perfectly and brings huge improvement with Remote Access!
    If you haven’t used it yet, give it a try.


  3. Mike

    I’ve used it for years and it works great. But, I’m on XP and this doesn’t support XP going forward. Any recommendations for a 3rd party solution that supports XP?

  4. CGA

    Major drawback: Doesn’t allow exclusion of desired subfolders and files. It’s either all or nothing.

  5. TheBigOldDog

    The original live mesh beta works great. Why Microsoft saw the need to take a great product and make it much more convoluted is beyond me. I’ll be using the Beta until the shut me out in March.

  6. Huisie

    The problem with Live Mesh is that it either works very well or makes a dog’s breakfast of things.

    I have seen many reports similar to Cherno and Mike above, but also read many frustrated reports.

    I’m in the latter camp. If you read the forums, you’ll see many are confused as to how to set it up properly.
    Granted, quite a few of these could be dealt with by reading the documentation – but the documentation is vague and not easy to find.
    The final Live Mesh is a lot less intuitive than the original Beta or its precursor, Live Sync (Foldershare).

    I have used Live Sync for years and have found it indispensable.
    I tried the original Live Mesh Beta (several times), but always found it unworkable.

    As Microsoft is doing away with Live Sync (warning message on website), I gave Live Mesh 2011 a whirl, but found the same old problems still plague it.

    Problem 1:
    It writes huge volumes of files to its temp folder, even when you have your files in sync prior to installing it. If you have a partitioned drive and are syncing a large folder, your C: drive will run out of space.
    My C: drive is partitioned to 50Gb on my 2 PCs, for OS and apps only. They both have about 15-20Gb usable space.
    I tried syncing my folders one at a time. The first folder I chose was around 100Gb.
    I had used SyncToy and FreeFileSync to confirm that they were in sync prior to installing and running Live Mesh 2011.
    After about 90-120 min of activity, I received a “low disk space warning”. On inspection, these were all in the Live Mesh 2011 “temp” folders (AppData).

    Problem 2:
    Live Mesh 2011 randomly drops the first letter of the top-level folder on the seconf PC and creates a new folder to sync with.
    For example:
    On PC1 I have D:\Apps and the same on PC2. Live Mesh creates D:\pps on PC2 and begins syncing with this folder.
    On PC1 I have D:\Backups\System, the same on PC2. D:\ackups\System is created on PC2.

  7. Name

    Mike, you can use dropbox.

    Does the remote connection support WOL (wake-on-lan)?

  8. Jeff Jones

    The 5 GBs of space is nice. One glaring problem is uploading files from a computer that doesn’t have Live Mesh installed which will keep Dropbox, Sugarsync, et al in business. Is this a feature that is coming or am I missing the point?

  9. JB

    I stopped using this because you can’t choose the target folder for the sync. It always syncs to a sub-folder inside your profile’s folder in the Users folder.

    We have a ton of photos in Public Pictures. However if we try to sync that to another computer, it wants to store them under my user account’s folders. There is no way to tell it to sync to the Public Pictures on the other computer.

  10. rak

    I have been using mesh for a long time. It’s great for remote access from my laptop to desktop — especially since I’m too lazy to walk up the steps to where the desktop sits. I’m unclear on your instructions though. You and Microsoft both say uninstall the Live Mesh beta. Problem is that control panel and revo uninstaller both only show Windows Live Essentials. Mesh is not called out separately. If I download and run the new Essentials beta won’t it uninstall / update as necessary?

  11. David

    I have been using Mesh Beta since it came out and found that it is VERY indispensable. I was tired of Live Sync changing all the time and loosing my “Favorites”. I also don’t want to sync between computers since that would mean that I would have to have all those computers turned on. This is the reason I use the mesh. It syncs from my main computer to the “Cloud” (Live Desktop) and when I drive out to my weekend home, both my computers and mobiles sync when I turn them on. I have 5 main computers at both locations, ranging from XP, Vista & Win7. Three of them are indeed XP. I am at a loss as to why M$ dropped support for XP other than $MONEY$. They are in the hopes that more folks will purchase Win7 so they can use the newer features that are not supported on XP. The issue is that I have to support XP since I am in the business so I in turn have to have XP on at least two of my systems, one at each location for support. This really puts me in a bind M$.

  12. Dan


    You can choose the target folder for the sync. Unfortunately it’s not as easy as it should be and the directions are buried somewhere on the help site. (I know this because this was my exact frustration when I installed it a week ago and was about to go crazy until I stumbled into them.)

    I’m going from memory here, but try this: on the first computer, choose the folder you want to sync, then hit the Sync button. The next screen asks which computer(s) or SkyDrive you wish to Sync to. Instead of doing the intuitive thing and checking one or more than clicking OK, leave each box empty and click OK.

    Then go to your second computer, and if Live Mesh is installed and running this folder should show up. Click on “sync this folder” and guide it to its corresponding folder on the second computer.

    This should allow you to bypass the Users folder.

  13. TechBari

    Mash is very promising, however you can’t sink to XP and more importantly you can’t sink outlooks datafile. Hopefully this will be supported in the very near future.

  14. mgo

    “live this” and “live that” and windows mish-mash…It’s all too confusing. Microsoft has been hard at work, making their “cloud” thingy incomprehensible and labyrinthine.

    It is obvious that the hapless crew responsible for the Vista disaster have now been turned loose on this also-ran concept, that has gone thru too many name changes and conceptual alterations to even be remotely understandable by us plain old simple folks.

    Me, I’ll just keep using Robocopy to back up to my USB drives and keep the archives in my truck. That’s “cloudy” enough for me….

  15. Bucky

    Has any one tried Live Mesh to sync Thunderbird between computers and/or to Sky Drive and computers? I have not used Live Mesh before but would like to try it.

  16. jd2066

    @rak: There are two different products with the “Live Mesh” name.
    First is “Live Mesh Beta” and the second is “Windows Live Mesh 2011″ and for a while “Windows Live Mesh 2011″ was in beta under the name “Windows Live Sync”.
    If you had the beta version of “Windows Live Mesh 2011″ then the installer will automatically upgrade it.

  17. Alex

    Still a lack of proxy support. A Windows product that doesn’t work on a Windows desktop OS behind a Windows proxy.

  18. GypJoe

    agreed, I cannot get this to even launch behind any proxy… :(

    the previous versions worked well…

  19. Carric

    If you have been using this to sync b/t Windows 7 and XP, BACKUP EVERYTHING BEFORE YOU DO. My experience to date:

    First, let me start by saying I consider myself fairly technical. I have been a consultant for something like 13 years doing everything from risk assessments, penetration testing, and teaching security, to designing and building enterprise networks; I actually worked for MSFT for a while as well on one of their information security teams.

    While I understand that MSFT wants us all to RUN out and snap up our copy of WIndows 7 and stop using XP (yesterday), there are a lot of reasons a homogeneous WIn7 world doesn’t work yet, and since we can probably all think of several, I wont waste time on that.

    I have been using Mesh for a few months to sync folders b/t my Win7 workstation, and my work VMWare XP image. It was working PERFECTLY!! Then one day I see the ‘Windows Live” optional update, and think I’ll go ahead. I remember something about LiveMesh 2011, and a warning about how I’ll need to re-setup my sync’d folders – no biggie right? Wrong… once you install LM2011, everything productive comes to a screeching halt. You can’t add your XP hosts to your mesh anymore, and while they are both still running LiveMesh, they can no longer see each other (it’s like there are TWO meshes now). From my XP host, my Win7 box shows ‘Offline’, but from Win7, all I see is the Win7 host with NO OPTION to add an XP host (when you try to add the XP host, it tells you it’s not compatible and you can go get the Live Essentials package that doesn’t give you any options for LiveMesh – ???!!)

    What I’ve done in an attempt to try and get things going again is RE-install the older LiveMesh client (which I’m sure will result in some kind of messy disaster the next time I reboot). My sync’d folders are all hosed and not working correctly, and I just lost a couple hours work. I’m really not very happy with this at the moment, and I’m considering dumping Mesh in favor of DropBox (at least there is only ONE DropBox).

    MSFT: This was a great solution that you have ruined by pretending that XP is dead, and I have to say I feel utterly betrayed (again). I hope this helps someone else not have to lose work and spend hours trying to figure out why their working solution no longer works…

  20. MTmace

    Live mesh also assumes every computer is online all the time. I was working on my desktop with my laptop off.
    When I logged on to the laptop I opened the file I had been working on and noticed it was the older version (live mesh had not synced). So I opened live mesh to synch the file and it was SENDING my laptop version (the old one) to my desktop. I stopped the sync because I did not want to overwrite my desktop version.
    It was worse. The PC version was now actually corrupted. When I tried to open it I got an error and all my VBA scripts were simply missing (it was an Access DB).

    I can see how this happened, when I opened the file on my laptop the date updated changed. So when I connected the network and live mesh, live mesh assumed that was the latest version.
    The confusing part is I need to remember to ALWAYS connect my computer to the network and live mesh before I modify ANY of the files on my synched folders or I can not be sure I am working with the latest version.

  21. Richard

    Want to share a folder with mesh outside your user directory? Dan’s post above tells you how, BUT!!!
    a scour through the help site reveals a little known point. I wanted to share a single directory between my wife and I on our desktop and laptop. First thought was make one directory on each machine outside c:\users using the method Dan found. I then set the directory on each machine to inherit permissions on each machine for my wife and I. Plan was she could drop in a file and I could do the same. What a disaster! Mesh 2011 disables inherited permissions! Mesh 2011wants to copy everything to the other machine, but if I’m logged in, it can’t access anything she put in the directory. Looks like we’ll have to each have a copy of the directory on each of the two machines. What a waste of our precious, but limited SSD disk space. Worse, if you don’t know this, Mesh 2011 goes into loops trying and trying. Think thousands of files with long SID like file names accumulating in your recycling bin and a machine that has very few CPU cycles left.

  22. Confuse

    I am confuse, how can Live Mesh knows you have so many device?
    Now i am in office installing live mesh and sign in. Later at home, can i install live mesh and sign in using the same account? Won’t it be disconnected like messenger?

  23. Bill Parcula

    I have had it with MSFT. Live Mesh Beta was very nice.
    Along with the issues noted above, You could assign permissions to people you were synching with (owner, contributor, reader) now you can’t. The earlier web based interface was nifty and intutive, the new one is not.

    This is the last straw. I am sick of MSFT and actively looking for alternative OS.

  24. Michelle

    I have spent the better part of two days travelling from one article to the next reading about all the new MS everything. I must admit, my head was spinning a little, my eyes burn like fire from strain, and I started to feel like jumping on the bitchy train…
    To mgo: Thank you for making me giggle for the better part of 20 minutes… The visual of an old, rusty Ford pickup with floppy disks in a cardboard box on the floor board and old man looking up for the cloudy thingy was awesome!

    mgo #comment-104749:
    “live this” and “live that” and windows mish-mash…It’s all too confusing. Microsoft has been hard at work, making their “cloud” thingy incomprehensible and labyrinthine.
    It is obvious that the hapless crew responsible for the Vista disaster have now been turned loose on this also-ran concept, that has gone thru too many name changes and conceptual alterations to even be remotely understandable by us plain old simple folks.
    Me, I’ll just keep using Robocopy to back up to my USB drives and keep the archives in my truck. That’s “cloudy” enough for me….

    Still giggling…Thanks from Texas!

  25. XP Expert

    I have windows mesh running on xp 32bit

    This is how:

    Download the installer for vista named LiveMesh.exe (google it)

    start button>Run and type c:/ then the location of the installer then space and type -force

    like this c:/LiveMesh.exe -force

    it will install and run perfectly

  26. JillWind

    after reading all these comments you guys posted, i think M$ is heading to Apple-like concept.. everything they do is try to make us keep buying their products. T_T
    i’m using XP.. so, the answer is no. i won’t use Live Mesh but this LM thingy has been defaulted in my Win7 netbook.. i was actually looking for whether i should keep this LM thing in my netbook or not and i stumbled upon this page. thanks all for the Pro’s & Con’s..
    p/s: There’re 4 uninstaller for Live Mesh in my Control Panel.. each with different language (Thai, Chinese Simp, Chinese Trad & Arabic).. if i uninstall all 4 of those, will LM still reside in my PC? i can’t find the English version uninstaller for LM and #Huisie’s post above really bother me about this Live Mesh thingy.

  27. herb fellows

    I tried syncing ‘pictures’ between 2 computers.
    I used ‘pictures’ rather than individual folders within ‘pictures’.
    I ended up with all my folders, empty!, on the second computer.

    If I do a search for ‘jpg’ on the second computer all 10,000 pictures show up, but just the pictures, no folders. I’m not even sure where they really are. They are in order (all pictures from my firsr folder, then all pictures from my second folder etc.) but without so much as a break between them.
    In other words, if I have 25 pictures in the first folder, and the screen is showing the pictures as 10 across, the third line has 5 pictures from the first album and 5 from the second album.

    I have 127 folders on my computer for pictures. Is this telling me that I have to sync them one folder at a time, rather than just sync ‘pictures’?
    This would be a real time consuming process!

  28. jr

    I have my desktop pc synced with my netbook. The only problem I’m having is syncing IE and Office…on the desktop, it will turn on, but on my netbook, live mesh says my Skydrive synced storage is full. However, I don’t have any files synced in my skydrive storage (4.99 GB free of 5.0 GB). Anybody know how to fix this? Thanks!

  29. Jared Heinrichs

    Anyone know how to remote into the machine after a power failure. It seems like you can only live mesh into the machine only if it has been logged in at least once before.

  30. SteinJ

    When connecting to Live Mesh from a cloned virtual pc (virtualbox), live mesh think this is the same pc.
    Both computername and mac-address is different bur live mesh always think this is the same pc.
    How can i change the name/identification of the devices?

  31. David

    I have tested LM by syncing a small structure of several folders containing some word documents to both another computer and SkyDrive. The folders and documents (including dates) were all copied correctly except that the timestamp on the copied documents were ALL changed to some other time.

    I cannot see how LM can possibly be used when it changes the timestamp on the copied files.

    This is the only problem I have found but its a show stopper.

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