Strategy for migrating from Live Mesh: Part 1

Many of you are aware that Microsoft has announced that Windows Live Mesh will be turned off on February 13th, 2013.  While SkyDrive really has some nice features, there are several features missing from SkyDrive that are in Live Mesh: SkyDrive is not a true better replacement for Live Mesh.  In fact, you are going to lose some loved capabilities.

What Mesh features you loose with SkyDrive

One of the capabilities that you are going to lose is peer file synchronization between your computers, and the computers of others that you are sharing with.  Specifically, with SkyDrive you are going to lose:

  1. Direct computer to computer synchronization of files.  SkyDrive only allows synchronization of files through the cloud.  Thus, while with Live Mesh you could have files go directly from computer A ==> computer B, with SkyDrive you will have to go from computer A ==> SkyDrive ==> computer B.  This is an issue for a several reasons:
    1. Every file must first be synchronized across the web to your SkyDrive and then to your other computers.  This involves twice the amount of data transfer.
    2. You have to synchronize at whatever internet upload/download speeds you have available.  With Mesh, if your computers were all local to your intranet (like in your house), the transfers would happen directly between your computers at your local LAN speed.
    3. SkyDrive puts a files size cap of 2GB for synchronized files.  With Live Mesh the files size generally didn’t matter.
    4. Because the file synchronization only happens through the SkyDrive, which is a cloud drive, SkyDrive must be able to store all your files.  Live Mesh was able to synchronize files directly between computers without first storing the file in a cloud location.  In fairness to SkyDrive, the majority of cloud drive services do not have peer-to-peer syncing; they force the data to go through the cloud storage first.  One of the side effects of forcing synchronized files in the cloud is that the files are going to take up cloud space – translated this means it is going to cost dollars.  With SkyDrive you get 7GB of free storage; if you need more you will have to upgrade your storage allocation.  With Live Mesh no cloud storage was required so you could sync a bizillion files and not worry about any cloud storage.
  2. Sharing files and folders with other users.
    1. Ok, with SkyDrive this isn’t a total loss, but it sure isn’t as nice as with Live Mesh.  With live Mesh you could simply invite users to shared the folder and that was it.  They would specify where on their local computer they wanted to store the synced Mesh folder, and Mesh handled everything from there.  It really worked out great, and was a super way to share a folder between team members.  With SkyDrive you can share a folder with other individuals, or with a group if you create a group.  But inexplicably Microsoft did not give the SkyDrive desktop client the ability to see those shared folders.  The only way to get to the folders is through the web interface.  You can’t even get to them via the Office programs unless you first access the files via the SkyDrive web interface.  My guess is that Microsoft will change this with some future release.
  3. Selecting any folder on the computer to sync.
    1. Mesh was great.  To sync a folder you simply used explorer to browse to the folder, right click on it, and enable synchronize to Mesh.  That’s it bing, bang, boom.  Any folder on your computer.  With SkyDrive desktop any folder that you want to sync must be in the special SkyDrive folder on your computer.  SkyDrive does let you select which sub-folders under the top-level SkyDrive folder to sync, but you cannot select any folder outside of the SkyDrive folder.  There’s a will and there’s a way — see the info in a later post about SkyShellEx


I’ll be posting some possible solutions to this in the next part of this series.

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