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Mash Up Your Data…err…That’s “Mesh”

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In giving my presentation on “Amazing Things You Have To See” in Toledo, OH recently, I realized that maybe everyone hasn’t already heard about Live Mesh. Have you?

Live Mesh might be one of the coolest things I’ve had an opportunity to try in the past year. The basic idea behind it is simple:

I have multiple machines, and I want to be able to access my data ON any of those machines FROM any of those machines. Or even from a computer that’s not mine.

It works in a very elegant way, too. It starts with a website. http://www.mesh.com. There, you can start adding devices to your personal device mesh. I started with my home desktop computer. This is where I do the bulk of my work, development, web surfing, etc. Adding a device simply means installing the Live Mesh Client, which just runs in the background, for the most part. Here’s a screenshot of the notifier:

What that shows me are the devices that are in my mesh. My Desktop, my Lenovo laptop, my wife’s laptop, and my Live Desktop. I’ll get to the Live Desktop a little later in the post.

Now that my desktop is “Meshified”, I notice several different changes to my operating system. The first is a new option in the folder menu, allowing me to add it to my Live Mesh:

By choosing to add this folder to my Mesh, a number of things start happening. The first one relates to my Live Desktop. The Live Desktop is basically 5 gigabytes of storage in the sky. Or in the cloud. Or on the internet. However you want to refer to it. But not in the way that SkyDrive or others work. In this Mesh scenario, the only way to get files to your Live Desktop is to add that folder to your Mesh. They are then automatically synched to your Live Desktop, and stored there as well.

Here’s where the elegance comes in: When I add a new machine (like my laptop) to my Mesh, it automatically creates phantom folders on your desktop. There’s nothing in them, yet, but they’re there to help you. On each folder, you can change sync settings, even add which computers will sync with that folder, and which direction, as well.

Cool Feature Warning…

So great, you can sync your folders across multiple machines. I could do that with FolderShare a few years ago. With Live Mesh, you can also add your colleagues, friends, or family to a folder as well. So you could have a folder for the documents about a specific project. Or all of your family’s photos.

Another Cool Feature…

Sometimes, I know I have a file on my desktop machine at home, but I never added it to the Mesh. This was one of the shortcomings of FolderShare. With Mesh running on my desktop machine, I can actually Remote Desktop into that machine, add that forgotten folder to my Mesh, and voila! I’ve got the file synched across the web. But it is true Remote Desktop at its core. I can use that machine just like I were sitting in front of it.

Yet Another Cool Feature

Sometimes, I don’t have a computer available to me at all, but I need to get a file for someone. Thankfully, since my files are also stored online, I have the ability to get them from my phone as well. Just go to http://m.mesh.com to check that out!


In short, Live Mesh provides a simple way for you to access your files from anywhere you have an internet connection. This will soon include Apple computers and mobile phones as well. You can remote into your machines, and sync files across all of them as well. You can even share folders out to people you know, so you can collaborate on documents and projects easily. And the best part? It’s all free.

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4 responses to “Mash Up Your Data…err…That’s “Mesh””

  1. Sarah Avatar

    I first experienced Mesh through someone else sharing a folder, and that’s definitely a great feature – especially when many people need to collaborate on a website design, for example. Thanks for the tip on https://m.mesh.com – definitely going to check that out!

  2. Partha Mandayam Avatar
    Partha Mandayam

    I also use Live mesh a lot and find it really cool! Recently I was reading Brad Adams post about how he changed the screensaver pictures on his home machine in USA from his laptop in Africa using Live Mesh which is really cool!!!http://blogs.msdn.com/brada/archive/2008/07/15/a-live-mesh-moment.aspxBut what I always wonder is how does Live Mesh bypass corporate firewalls?

  3. Shane Milton Avatar
    Shane Milton

    I’ve been looking at Live Mesh the past few days wanting to play with it but being too busy. I am still failing to see a hugemongous difference between it and Live FolderShare (which I have used for some time now). With Live FolderShare, pretty much all of my computers that are “registered” on it share ALL files on any local hard disks, and perhaps optical media too (not sure – not tried that). I don’t have to pick and choose folders to have shared – they just all are by default. Additionally, I can pick and choose folders to share with other people on a per-folder basis (Shared Libraries) as well as have individual folders that are sync’d across all of my computers (Personal Libraries).So other than having the Live Desktop, the context menu integration, and device support, what really does Live Mesh add that Live FolderShare lacks? I still don’t see it. I’ve almost been wondering if it’s really just the next version of Live FolderShare. It seems like these are different products with a 90% overlap in features. It just doesn’t make sense to me why Microsoft Live has both of these./boggle-Shane

  4. Jonathon Thorndycraft Avatar
    Jonathon Thorndycraft

    I actually was playing with Live Mesh last night. I like it. I’m looking forward to a day when I can go even further though and put my whole user folder on something like Mesh. I suppose it’s possible with the current implementation, but my music library wouldn’t fit. And I’d probably get sued.

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