Friday, August 07, 2009

Digital Lifestyle: Syncing Your Digital Life

digital life

I’m starting something new: The Digital Lifestyle corner.

On Friday’s (when I have time), I wanted to write a blurb on some different types of technologies, how I use them and how they have made my life easier.  Plenty of times my wife complains that “computers slow her down”, but that’s not what computers, software and the Internet do for me, and I wanted to share my usage with different technologies in hopes that you can leverage computers to save you time as well, for the fun stuff!

Today’s topic: I want to discuss some software that has changed the way I use multiple computers.  “Sync

I’m probably not a typical computer user in the fact that I use 4 computers almost daily, but I’m sure a lot of people use at least two.  I was talking to a friend the other day who has a desktop but wants to use a Netbook for taking notes at school, but then be able to work on homework using the bigger monitor and more powerful desktop.  Using Sync technology she need only have a hotspot at school to get those files home.  Ease of access *and* a backup! How convenient eh?

I primarily use two Sync technologies today.  Windows Live Mesh, and Windows Live Folder Sync.  Both have their pros and cons as I’m sure any other sync technology would.  Again, I am only covering what I have familiarity with, comments are open for other apps that you love.

Live Mesh

First, Windows Live Mesh provides a number of different services.  Synchronizing files is it’s primary function, but it also provides remote desktop functionality and sharing with friends, family or co-workers as secondary functions.  I primarily use it to Sync my own files and folders.  Mesh can sync files between many different PCs, you can choose any personal folder on your system to sync with any folder on different PCs, and you can choose it to sync with your “Mesh Desktop”.  This is the best part!  The Mesh desktop is a 5GB store that you can throw data up to, so you can use the “Mesh Desktop” as your always-on PC.  Plus I bet it has better bandwidth than any of your home or mobile PCs, so once the data is synced with the “Mesh Desktop”, it screams down the pipe to your other PCs.  The limit here is of course the 5GB limit of space.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone, and you’re doing PC-2-PC sync, which is slower, and requires your PC to be on.

Currently with Mesh, I sync

  • My Favorites.  Having my favorites the same on all my PCs is awesome, I can add a favorite on the couch watching TV at night, and it’s ready for me on my PC at the office the next day.
  • A Wallpaper directory. Windows 7 will rotate desktops as part of the OS, so I sync my wallpaper (280 pictures) from PC to PC and have Windows 7 rotate these.  Once I drop a photo in on my home PC, I see it on my work PC a few days later, without making a change
  • A Tools directory.  I have a directory that has a bunch of .reg files and .cmd files as well as some apps that I want to install on all of my PCs.  After installing Mesh, I’m set with everything else that needs to be installed all being local
  • The Live Writer Posts Directory.  I blog from 3 of my 4 different PCs, so having all the offline posts sync is great.  Start it on one PC, finish it on another
  • Collaboration folders.  I share some work with some peers around the Internet, and instead of emailing the file, we just drop or edit it out of the directory and the updates are handled and distributed to the peers.
  • Mobile Pictures. I run the Mesh beta client on my Windows Mobile device, such that when I take a photo, that photo syncs to the cloud and my home PC almost immediately!

In addition to the sync, you can access your files from anywhere in the world simply by going to the Mesh Homepage.  If you’re not at your PC, but just need that tool, or that favorite, or access to that file you know is up there, just log in and download it directly to the PC you’re at!  And finally, Mesh let’s me Remote Desktop to any PC turned on to boot! (Although I wouldn’t say it’s as fast as remoting to your PC directly, or using a product like Windows Home Server or Small Business Server directly, but it works in a pinch!)

Ok, so here is my problem with Mesh, it uses between 45-100mb of RAM depending on what it does.  Between the “MOE.EXE” (Mesh Operating Environment) and the “MOEMONITOR.EXE”.  This is problematic for those Netbooks that are limited to 1GB of RAM.  Especially when you jump from your 250MB Windows XP footprint to your 550MB Windows 7 footprint.  After your applications, you’re a bit limited.  For that I jump over to Windows Live Sync.

Live Sync

Windows Live Sync was born from an older technology called FolderShare.  Live Sync is will synchronize files between PCs without the cloud back-end, so you are limited to at least one of your PCs being on for the sync to occur.  But you still get to sync between PCs and you can also sync with other peers or co-workers that are using Windows Live Sync.

The good news for Netbooks about Live Sync is the foot print (as I’ve monitored it over time) is less than 2 MB!, perfect for a Netbook running Windows 7!  I use it to sync my documents that I create on my Netbook and my favorites.  Thus meaning that if I add a favorite on my Netbook, Live Sync will update it on my home desktop, which will then use Mesh to toss it around all the other client computers.


KalaDGT said...

Nice post useful many thanks for this and all other your post.
If i can write somethings another useful program is synctoy.

CoryLynch said...

PureSync is also a nice tool. I use it to backup my desktops and laptops at home to a server, then the server backs up to a NAS. But I will definitely took a look at how I can integrate Mesh/Live Sync into my setup. Thanks for the great article.