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How To Synchronize Your Files With Another Computer

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I’ve been talking about backup lately and my latest ebook is based on CrashPlan the popular free backup software.

Online backup and file synchronization services are a very similar concept and rightly so.  They do almost the same thing.

I guess the main difference between syncing files and backing up files is that with synced files you’re probably going to be editing the files at any of the locations where the files are stored.

With backup it’s a ‘safe’ copy stored somewhere away from your primary computer that can be retrieved if needed.

For example, I use my laptop in the office.  I update some documents or create a few presentations.  When I get home I like to use my Mac with it’s large screen but where are my documents – on my laptop, right?

The problem used to be that my documents were on my laptop and needed to be copied across or emailed to myself if I wanted to continue working on them – have you done this?

Now everything I do is synced between my Windows laptop and my Mac, almost in real-time, as I work.  That’s peace of mind and convenient.

There are several ways to do this using free software such as Dropbox, SugarSync and GoodSync but today we’re going to use Microsoft’s own free offering, Windows Live Mesh 2011.

Windows Live Mesh 2011 supports Windows 7, Vista and Mac only.

I’m going to sync between Windows 7 & Mac but it could be two Windows computers just as easily or another combination.

If you’re a Windows XP or Linux user, I recommend Dropbox.


Here’s How You Do It

WIndows Live Mesh 2011

On your Windows 7 or Vista PC:

  1. Download and run wlsetup-web.exe by clicking here and then clicking the blue Download now button
  2. The User Account Control box should display – click Yes – the Windows Live Essentials installer should start
  3. On the ‘What do you want to install?’ screen click Choose the programs you want to install
  4. Deselect all check boxes except Windows Live Mesh – unless of course you actually want to install all the other programs – then click the Install button
  5. A dialog showing the message Installing Windows Live Essentials 2011 should be displayed with a progress bar.  When it’s finished a Done! message will appear – click Close
  6. Now launch Windows Live Mesh 2011 by clicking the Start button > All Programs > Windows Live > Windows Live Mesh
  7. The Sign in to Windows Live Mesh window will appear.  Sign in using your existing Windows Live ID or Hotmail email address if you have one.  If you don’t have either, then click the Sign up link at the bottom, register and then return to this screen when you’re finished.
  8. After successfully signing in, Windows Live Mesh will appear – before doing anything else, let’s set up Windows Live Mesh on our other computer

Note: If you want to synchronize your files with another Windows 7 or Vista PC then repeat the steps above on the second PC.

If you want to synchronize your files with a Mac then proceed below.

Whatever your choice be sure to complete the third and final step located after the Mac installation instructions.

On your Mac:

  1. Download WindowsLiveMesh.dmg from here
  2. Launch the DMG and drag it into your Applications folder
  3. Launch Windows Live Mesh 2011 by clicking Go > Applications > Windows Live Mesh
  4. Click Open when you get the warning about the file you just downloaded from the Internet
  5. The Sign in to Windows Live Mesh dialog will appear.  Sign in using your existing Windows Live ID or Hotmail email address if you have one.  If you don’t have either, then click the Create a Windows Live ID link at the bottom, register and then return to this screen when you’re finished.
  6. After successfully signing in you’ll see Windows Live Mesh main screen – now it’s time to go back to your first computer and set up the synchronization.

Synchronizing Your Files – Windows <> Mac

  1. In Windows Live Mesh on the first PC, which for me is my Windows 7 computer, click Sync a Folder
  2. You’ll see a Windows Explorer window – select the folder that you’d like to keep synchronized with your other computer.  I’m going to select the My Documents folder and then click the Sync button.
  3. Now the Select Devices screen will appear – select the check mark next to the second computer that you set up and click OK.  Mine is named Mac Pro but yours is possibly something different.
  4. Now go to the second computer – in my case a Mac – and open Windows Live Mesh
  5. In the left hand navigator, you will see a blue folder with the same name as the folder you chose to synchronize on the first computer in step 2 above.  Select this blue folder and then click the Start Syncing button in the top right corner.
  6. You will be asked if you would like to Sync the folder “My Documents” on this Mac? – click Sync

Alternative Scenario: Windows <> Windows

If you are synchronizing two Windows computers then the steps differ slightly.

  1. In Windows Live Mesh on the first Windows PC, click Sync a Folder
  2. You’ll see a Windows Explorer window – select the folder that you’d like to keep synchronized with your other computer.  I’m going to select the My Documents folder and then click the Sync button
  3. Now the Select Devices screen will appear – select the check mark next to the second Windows computer that you set up and click OK
  4. Now go to the second Windows computer and open Windows Live Mesh
  5. In the main Window under Folders, you will see a folder with the same name as the folder you chose to synchronize on the first computer in step 2 above.  Click the Sync this folder link beneath it
  6. When prompted, select the folder on the second PC that you would like to sync with the folder on the first PC and click OK.
Maybe you know a better way or you had a problem with the steps above?    Share your ideas below.

Discussion


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  1. Openbox says:

    Really informative article.I am glad that you shared this kind of information.Terrific idea of posting it.

  2. Saeid says:

    I have been using both live mesh and drop box. although the bigger space is appreciated, Live mesh lacks many features, including a progress bar or some sort of detailed status report of the syncing progress. you can have a folder that is “uploading” for hours and not know how much is done

    also unlike Dropbox, Mesh does not do incremental uploading, so if you are editing large files everytime it will be reuploaded.
    that is one major flaw.

  3. Johan says:

    I have followed your instructions. On the second PC, the Folders are shown with “Updated” (in norwegian..). But when looking at the folders, they are empty. And the folder name have changed, i.e. the first letter og the original folder name is lacking..
    Any help out there?
    rgds Johan

    1. Rosco says:

      Hi Johan, Give me a bit more info…Are you syncing Windows > Windows?

      Tell me which step you’re stuck on…

      Also, check your SkyDrive at https://skydrive.live.com to see if your folders appear there.

      Rosco

      1. Johan says:

        Hello Rosco – thanks for beeing there 🙂
        I sync Windows Vista (main PC) against Windows 7 (where I want the files).
        I checked the Skydrive – no folders appear there.
        However, in the trying process, I have marked 4 folders to syncronice, 3 without Skydrive, one with. Noneof them are there.
        When I look in the Status window on the Win7 PC, I see the folders and 3 of them are marked Updated, the 4th (with Skydrive) is waiting to be syncronised (I have tried so).
        Lokking at the folders on the Win7 PC with Explorer, I see them, but they are empty, and renamed leaving out the first letter of the folder name: Diamant -> iamant.
        Hope this helps a bit?
        Johan

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