Windows Live Mesh 2011 Review


UPDATE: 23 Nov 2010 – SugarSync are now providing a free 5Gb account and no longer require credit card details for the free service. I’m currently evaluating it and indications are that it will replace Dropbox as my recommended and used sync solution.

This is a follow up to my review of the Windows Live Sync Beta and covers the final release which sees the product renamed back to Live Mesh.

Like many, I was a user of Live Mesh since the day it was made publically available. I used it extensively to synchronise development software, personal documentation and photos with family around the world. Live Mesh was a critical part of my daily life and the Live Sync Beta was, to put it mildly, an absolute disaster. The beta of Live sync was bad enough to make me, my family and many friends drop the product in favour of Dropbox.

Will the final release address all the complaints and tempt us all back? Below is an updated comparison of the three products I compared in my previous review. There are still a few unknowns and I’ll update this post when I have the answers.

Feature  2011
Live Mesh 2011
Dropbox - Secure backup, sync and sharing made easy.
Released April 2008 – in public Beta September 2010 2008 – currently at version 0.7.110
Support Forum Yes – here
Searchable
Latest Posts
This forum is fairly quiet now and users are being directed to Live Sync
Yellow
Yes – here
Searchable
Latest Posts
There are a lot of angry posts here.
At the time of writing, it’s still branded as Sync
Yellow
Yes – here
Searchable
Tag Cloud
Categories
Latest Posts

Green[4]

System Tray Icon

Untitled

Unobtrusive icon.
Spins when Syncing.
Opens Mesh menu with single click.

Green[4]

Untitled 

Unobtrusive icon.
Spins only when signing in.
Double click to open admin screen

[SAME AS THE BETA]

Suggestion: Spin the icon during syncing. Single click to open.
Red 

Untitled 

Unobtrusive icon.
Spins when syncing.
Double-click opens dropbox folder.

Green[4]

System Tray Icon Menu Untitled
Provides quick access to all your folders, news and devices.
Green[4]
 30-09-2010 21-48-41
Provides the options of starting the Mesh‘admin window’ or changing user.

[SAME AS THE BETA]
Suggestion: Bring back the Mesh menu and add usage figures like DropBox
Red

 image
Allows you to access your drop folder, see what’s recently changed and nicely shows your usage.
Yellow
Shell Integration – Folders Untitled 
Easy to identify blue folders. (don’t drop Gb files in them)
Adds a ‘Live Mesh folders’ folder under your Profile which provides some basic navigation and management.
Adds a pop out panel to synced folders which allows you to manage permissions and see a news feed for that folder
Green[4]
Untitled
Does nothing.

[SAME AS THE BETA]
Suggestion: bring back the blue folders or some other symbols to differentiate synced and non-synced folders.
Red

Untitled
Adds a folder to your Profile
Untitled
Adds a blue shortcut on your desktop. 
Yellow
Shell Integration – Menus Untitled
Right click any folder and easily add it to your personal mesh
Green[4]
Mesh gives you nothing.
You have to go into the Admin screen to add a new folder.

[SAME AS THE BETA]
Suggestion: Bring back the Mesh menu.
Red

Dropbox operates more like it’s name says it does, i.e. a single folder which you drop stuff into.

Red
Remote Desktop Support Yes
Yellow
Yes, Faster and has zoom feature.
I still find remote connections to be very slow and instead use www.teamviewer.com.

Suggestion:
Make Mesh as fast and easy to use as TeamViewer.
Green[4]
No
Red
Cloud Storage Capacity 5Gb Free, no option to purchase more
Yellow
5Gb Free, no option to purchase more.

Suggestion: link to the SkyDrive 25Gb.
Yellow

2Gb* Free, then pay for up to 100Gb.
You can get additional free Dropbox storage by completing the tutorial and inviting people.
Green[4]
Cloud Storage max individual file size *I’m trying to find this information* The beta was 2Gb. *I’m trying to find this information* for the RTM. 300Mb
Peer-to-Peer sync Capacity Unlimited
Green[4]
Unlimited
Green[4]
NA. Everything as to sync with the Cloud.
It would be nice to offer P2P syncing.
Red
Peer-to-Peer max individual file size *I’m trying to find this information* 40Gb
Green[4]
NA. Everything has to sync with the Cloud
Red
Windows Platforms XP SP2, Vista, 7, (unofficially Server 2003, 2008)
Green[4]
Vista, 7, Server 2008 +
Yellow
XP, Vista, 7, (unofficially Server 2003, 2008)
Green[4]
Cross Platforms Mac
Yellow
Mac OS X v10.5 or later
Yellow
Mac: OS X Tiger (10.4) or later, Ubuntu 7.10+ and Fedora Core 9+.
Green[4]
Mobile Platforms e.g. iPhone Windows Mobile
Red
Suggestion: Add support for all major mobile platforms.
Red
iOS v3.0 or later, Android OS 1.5 (Cupcake) or higher.
Critically, this means iPhone and iPad users have a single service they can rely on.
Green[4]
Sync Speed Moderate
Yellow
VERY FAST
Green[4]
VERY FAST
Green[4]
Storage Usage Indication No
Red
No

[SAME AS THE BETA]

Suggestion: Add a clear indication of storage use to a revised Mesh like system tray menu.
Red

Yes
Green[4]
News Feed Yes.
Provides a great News feed on the tray menu for all news and then a News feed for each synced folder
Green[4]
No.

[SAME AS THE BETA]

Suggestion: Bring back the Mesh overall and folder specific news.
Red

Minor.
Provides a small bit of info via the ‘Recently Changed Files” tray menu.
Yellow
Ability to Purchase extra cloud storage No
Red
No.

[SAME AS THE BETA]

Suggestion: Allow people to give you their money for more storage.
Red

Yes
Green[4]
Administration Interface e.g. adding users Windows Client
Easy to add new users to a folder and share it with them
Green[4]
Web Browser
Uses the Windows Live website, which if you go too far back in the breadcrumb trail, there is NO way of finding your way back to where you were.

[SAME AS THE BETA]

Suggestion: Do not use the Windows Live site. You’ve installed a client, let’s use it like we could with Mesh
Yellow

Web Browser
Fairly efficient, but another layer in the process
Yellow
# Shared Recipients Unlimited
I’ve never hit a limit and seen folders with hundreds of people sharing
Green[4]
The beta was 9 , I’m still trying to clarify if there is still a restriction. Limited by the sum of storage.
Adds any shared storage to peoples quota, so although this doesn’t stop you sharing with someone, if they don’t have the available storage, then they won’t be able to share with you.
Yellow
Offline Mode Yes
Green[4]
No

[SAME AS THE BETA]

Suggestion: Add an easy to switch to Offline-mode.
Red

No
Red
Application Syncing No
Red
Office and IE
Yellow
No
Red
Browser Access to files in Cloud Yes, via Live Desktop
Green[4]
Yes, via SkyDrive
Green[4]
Yes
Green[4]
Public Hyperlinking No
Red
No
Red
Yes, via the Public folder.
Green[4]

So the big and perhaps over hyped complaint of 2Gb cloud storage has been addressed and we now get 5Gb again. Other than that though, there is too much ‘[SAME AS THE BETA]’ to warrant a move away from Dropbox. If you are going to pay for storage, consider SugarSync too. My only complaint with SugarSync is that they offer no basic free option.

I’ve been using Dropbox for 3 months now and it has been an absolute pleasure. On the contrary, I’ve spent less than 3 hours with Mesh 2011 and I just don’t need the frustration; uninstall in progress.

Take a look at this excellent review if you are still undecided.

Mike

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22 Replies to “Windows Live Mesh 2011 Review”

  1. Tried all the cloud sync tools (dropbox, sugarsync, wuala, spideroak, live mesh beta etc) and several of the remote desktops (mesh, teamviewer) plus VPNs.
    MS’s historical approach to the cloud has been a mess, with various different options that should have been combined before release. Mesh, Skydrive and whatever the 3rd one was ?? Mesh beta under XP just stopped working one day and I couldn’t get it going again. The single-product companies just do one thing and do it well. Dropbox and Teamviewer just work. While there should be advantages to a combined tool, in reality mesh seems just bloated (eg the current bundle with messenger etc) and did things in ways that I didn’t like in comparison to the single-job products. MS should stick to OS’s and Office until the cloud just becomes totally transparent – MS should come back to us when they’ve got that sorted.

  2. Hmm, werid, I never actually felt the downsides to WLM when I am using it… Rather, I get really annoyed with Dropbox, eg, when I open the files that are in the Dropbox folder, I wouldn’t be able to save that file if it’s syncing, a major drawback considering the file size that I am working with…

    In my opinion, Windows Live Mesh is great if you want a sync program that runs in the background, in the folder that you are working in (programming and electronic projects tend to grow files like rabbits), it’s just a background process, set and forget.

  3. They should have named it ‘LIVE MESS’ instead. It is really a mess.

    This Microsoft’s LIVE MESH is really a mess. It DOES NOT WORK at all. Everytime you try to sync your folder, it gives you hundreds of problems. One most occurring problem is “THIS FOLDER NAME OR PATH IS TOO LONG”. And guess what, it gives you this error even when you folder name is just 15 characters long.

    I have folders with people’s names which goes from 12 to 25 characters long.
    Anybody getting this error ?
    Microsoft is just an old technology. I started using Apple’s MobileMe and it’s really really good compared to Microsoft’s Live Mess.

  4. Thanks for an excellent comparison of these three Sync options. I am a Mesh 2011 user, and agree with many that some of the nice features from Mesh Beta are irritatingly missing. Looking forward to a major update. Surely there must be one round the corner after all the uproar?

  5. I liked Dropbox, preferred Sugar Sync (does not have the annoying 100gb limit, and is a lot more flexible. But: None of them worked with iPhoto. THats a problem with Mac, but I have a lot of problems with Mac and finally gave it up and went back to Microsoft. Mesh solves a lot of my needs. I sync with many computers. Lan worked SO fast AND: With Mesh I may sync all I need for free. I do expect lot of the above issues to be solved, but I am content for now..

  6. A quick note: It is still not possible to add files to SkyDrive Synced Storage via the web interface, which is a strange feature to leave out if you think about it. SkyDrive has the feature, as did Mesh Beta, so why leave it out now? MS oversight?

  7. I have had it with MSFT. Live Mesh Beta was very nice.
    Along with the issues noted above, You could assign permissions to people you were synching with (owner, contributor, reader) now you can’t. The earlier web based interface was nifty and intutive, the new one is not.

    This is the last straw. I am sick of MSFT and actively looking for alternative OS.

  8. I’ve been a user of Live Sync for over a year after I found out it was ‘free’, had more capability and was faster than Groove. Zero issues with it till the Mesh (2011, NO Beta experience) crap hit the fan. What a crock! I’ve tried three times to convert and have failed each time.
    1 – Status reporting is generally false, tells you a folder is synced when it is not. Many occurances
    2 – Speed – SLOW as a snail in P2P on a GigE LAN
    3 – Confusing folder management, if you select the destination folder it throws your data in your user account and never lets you point it. Work around, exit out of destination and go to the target and select folder from there.
    4 – What is with the don’t change folder names or move folders being SYNCed crap? Still not sure what it means but now I don’t care I’m going to try Drop BOx, I just hope I don’t have to buy Cloud Disk space to do P2P syncing.
    5 – No activity log AFAIK, lousy status reporting overall! With the false reporting in Status, one has to be content with it just running blind.
    6 – Will not sync PST files open or closed.

    Thanks to fellows above who clarified DB p2p!

    Then there is the live crap that tries to install with the Mesh code. . .

    Maybe they could make it work with my XBOX – just kidding, being a smart ass!

    Please adjust your evaluation, it is misleading in some critical areas already discussed.

    Joe

  9. I LOVED the Beta version of Live Mesh. Just “updated” to the new Live Mesh 2011 today. What a disaster. In addition to all of the nice features of the Beta that are gone from the 2011 version, when I tried to sync between my computers, it saved the versions from the first computer I synced onto the second computer, rather than savings the newest version of a document. So it erased days of work I had done. I quickly uninstalled this terrible new product, and will be mourning the loss of the Beta for a long time to come. Silly me, I could have kept using the Beta version until next March. 😦

    Don’t make the same mistake I did if you’re lucky enough to still have the Beta version on your computer.

  10. FIX For Mesh 2011 Users that want their Blue Icon back:

    Go to a PC that still has the beta version of Mesh on it and find the WLCShell.dll file. Copy that file to your 2011 installed pc. Then right click your new meshed folder and changed the icon. Browse to the WLCShell.dll file and select your old blue folder.

    This is a temporary fix until MS realizes they took an awesome application out of beta and stripped a ton of good features from it.

  11. good chart, thank you. dropbox has got the “LAN sync” from version 0.7.97, so you should revise the ‘peer-to-peer’ rows.

  12. DropBox offers P2P sync on a local network, and has for about 6 months I think. Works great, and fun to watch the file updates, even on ISOs fly by on gigabit ethernet 🙂

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