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October 12, 2011

Windows Live Mesh 2011: User Guide

By Live Mesh 2011

Windows Live Mesh 2011 Update

A couple of years ago I wrote an article on a beta software program that Microsoft was working on called Windows Live Mesh. Now the beta has ended and Microsoft has released the official version called Windows Live Mesh 2011.

Mesh allows you to synchronize files between multiple devices and the cloud using SkyDrive with 5GB of space for free. It’s similar to dropbox and other cloud backup and storage solutions.

Today we’ll take a look at how to install and configure the newest version of Live Mesh. I’ll also show you how you can remotely control the computer you have Mesh installed on.

Windows Live Mesh 2011: Installation

You need to have a Windows Live or Hotmail account and Windows Vista or Windows 7 to be able to use Windows Live Mesh 2011. Note: Windows Live is now also available for mac.

Go to http://explore.live.com/windows-live-mesh and click the download link to start the installation. The installer is actually for Windows Live Essentials, which Live Mesh is a part of, but we can choose what exactly to install.

Windows Live Mesh 2011

During the beginning of the installation you will be asked what you want to install. At this point you can choose to install all of Windows Live Essentials, or choose the programs you want to install. For this example we are going to choose what we want to install – Windows Live Mesh.

Install Live Mesh

Here I am going to uncheck everything except Windows Live Mesh, then click Install.

Live Mesh 2011 Installation

Once the installation is complete click Close. If the program doesn’t launch automatically, you can go to Start, All Programs, Windows Live, and click Windows Live Mesh.

From here you should be prompted to login with your Windows Live ID.

Login with your Windows Live ID

And this completes the installation of Windows Live Mesh 2011; now let’s move on to the configuration.

Configuring Synchronization Settings in Windows Live Mesh

Once you are logged in you can configure your sync settings for files, folders, IE favorites, and Microsoft Office styles, templates, custom dictionaries, and email signatures.

Configuring Windows Live Mesh

Let’s start by syncing a folder. Click on the link to sync a folder then browse to the folder you want to sync with SkyDrive. For this example I’m going to sync a folder called Test. Browse to the folder you want to sync and click Sync.

Next you will be prompted to choose where to sync your folder. We want to sync it with SkyDrive so check this option and click OK.

Syncing Windows Live Mesh

Now you should see the folder you selected to sync listed under Folders. You can sync as many folders as you want to, but you are limited to 5GB of storage space. More space is available for a monthly fee.

Turn on syncing in Live Mesh

You can also turn on syncing for your IE favorites. Simply click the link to turn on syncing for your favorites.

Syncing for IE Favorites

Syncing your Microsoft Office styles, templates, custom dictionary, and email signatures is also just as easy as clicking the link to turn on syncing.

Sync Microsoft Office items

Follow these same steps for your other computers that you want to keep synchronized.

Remote Access with Windows Live Mesh

Windows Live Mesh also allows you to remotely control the computer you have Mesh installed on. Let’s turn on remote access and give it a test.

Click on the Remote tab in Windows Live Mesh. This page describes how it works and allows us to configure remote access. Turn on remote access by clicking Allow remote connections to this computer.

Allow remote connections to this computer

To remote into your computer go to www.live.com and sign in with your Windows Live ID. Hover over the Windows Live icon in the top left and choose devices.

Remote access with Live Mesh

Now you should see a list of devices you have installed Mesh on. Click Connect to this computer next to the computer you want to remote control.

Remote Control with Live Mesh

When you click Connect you will be prompted to install an ActiveX control. Make sure to install this so you can connect to your pc remotely.

ActiveX control

Once you install the plugin you should be able to remotely control your computer.

Accessing Your Documents via the Cloud using Windows Live Mesh

So how do you access your documents via the cloud? Go to www.live.com and login with your Windows Live ID. Hover over the Windows Live icon in the top left corner and choose SkyDrive.

Accessing document through Live Mesh

Then click View synced folders.

View synced folders

Now you should see all of the folders you are synchronizing with Windows Live Mesh. In this example we only have one folder called Test.

Using Live Mesh

From here you can manage all of your files that are being synced. This makes it really easy to access your important documents from anywhere via a web browser.

How does Windows Live Mesh Compare to Similar Products?

Live Mesh is very similar to Dropbox but has the added feature that allows you to remotely control your computers. This is a great benefit in case you don’t have the file you need synchronized with Mesh but the file is on your computer at home or at the office.

There might be other scenarios where you need to run a proprietary program on your computer at the office or at home. Now you can use Live Mesh to remotely control your computers and run the programs you need to from the PC you want.

Live Mesh also has a version available for Macs and features available for Windows phones.

Mesh is a fairly competitive rival of Dropbox and could be considered better because of these additional features and functionalities. I’m sure as cloud computing becomes more and more popular, there will be other alternatives that pop up as well.

What other types of cloud synchronization programs are out there that you like to use?

What do you like about them?

About the Author

(MCP) is an IT Consultant for small businesses and supports a variety of environments. Eric has an Associate Degree in Computer Network Systems and a Bachelors Degree in Information Systems Security from ITT Technical Institute. He has experience in network administration for banks, churches, law firms, and a number of other small businesses. Eric specializes in Windows operating systems maintenance and administration, and has 5 years of experience in the field.


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