How to get the key features of Live Mesh, now that Microsoft is getting rid of it

Microsoft is shutting down its syncing and remote desktop tool, Live Mesh. Here are some good alternatives.

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Microsoft recently rang the death knell for Live Mesh, and when it's retired on February 13, 2013, so will important features like peer-to-peer offline file syncing and remote desktop access. Those are features not found in SkyDrive, the online syncing tool Microsoft wants you to use instead. Don't worry, you can get Live Mesh-like functionality with a few other apps and workarounds.

Syncing files between computers without storing them in the cloud: SkyDrive's automatic syncing is pretty good, but it forces you to store everything online. One of Live Mesh's best features is its offline computer-to-computer syncing. Several other apps fill in this need:

  • Cubby from LogMeIn can sync to both a free 5GB online storage and/or privately across your Windows and Mac computers. It's free and the direct syncing is unlimited.
  • For syncing just between Windows PCs, SyncBack is pretty powerful and offers lots of options for your syncing jobs. You can also use the program to schedule backups. There are free and paid versions available.
  • One other alternative is GoodSync from SiberSystems, which can sync between Windows and Macs, as well as sync your files to online storage services such as Amazon S3 and Google Docs. The free version, however, only syncs 100 files, while the Pro version costs $29.95 or $39.95.

Take a look at the syncing features for the programs above to see which best meets your needs.

Selecting which folders to sync: The programs above let you select which folders you want to keep in sync, as opposed to the single folder location SkyDrive offers. If you want to use SkyDrive for syncing online, though, and want selective folder syncing, you can use a utility called SkyShellEx to enable that. An alternative syncing and storage option that has selective folders syncing is SugarSync.

Remote desktop access: If you want the ability to remotely log into and control your computer from afar, Microsoft suggests two alternatives: the Remote Desktop Connection built into Windows or LogMeIn.

Whatever apps you choose to replace Live Mesh with, don't forget to save any and all Mesh files you synced online before the February end date.

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