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Microsoft Live Mesh (Beta) review

Ben Pitt
8 Jul 2009
Our Rating 
Free

First impressions of this synchronisation service are excellent. Humyo Premium is more flexible, but Live Mesh is an appealing free option.

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Specifications

As with Humyo Premium, Microsoft Live Mesh is a synchronisation rather than a backup service.

Files are uploaded to online storage as soon as they're created or altered, and previous versions aren't recoverable. It therefore won't rescue files after a virus attack, corruption or accidental deletion, but it will protect against hard disk failure and theft.

Live Mesh has another extremely useful role. It synchronises folders between any number of Windows PCs via its online storage, updating changes at all locations. Support for Macs and mobile phones is under development. This means that files created in the office magically appear on a home PC or laptop for further editing. It could banish the need for USB flash drives, and any confusion about which is the most recent version of a file.

Synchronised files are also accessible from any PC via a browser, with the web interface mimicking the Vista desktop. Photo, audio and video files can be streamed directly, but format support isn't as wide as with Humyo. It's also possible to share a folder with other Live Mesh users, with three Permissions settings dictating whether they can edit, add to or only view the folder's contents. It's even possible to control other Live Mesh users' desktops remotely.

Despite its Beta status, Live Mesh is already extremely polished. Files and folders are cued for synchronisation via Windows Explorer's right-click menu, and synchronised folders turn a snazzy shade of blue to indicate their status. Browsing these folders reveals a Live Mesh bar with activity history, synchronisation and sharing options.

There are some issues with this Beta version. It was often quick to synchronise changes to other PCs, but at other times wasn't so responsive and there was no way to hurry it along when we wanted to shut down the PC. As with Humyo, it doesn't warn you if a synchronised document is open in two locations. However, with a bit of care it wasn't hard to keep an eye out for this. As free services go, Live Mesh is extremely impressive.

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