David Artiss

Synchronising Files Across Computers


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For some time now I’ve used Microsoft’s Live Mesh software to synchronise folders across a number of computers. It’s a little tricky to set up at first but otherwise is relatively easy to use.

The idea is that you mark folder that you wish to add to the Mesh. On your other linked computers, it then creates matching folders where the data is shared. These folders aren’t short cuts, so even though you would have set one up initially on one computer, there is no “base” computer on which the data is held. “The cloud” is used to hold the data as it flows between the various computers.

However, for a good few days one of my PCs has only been synchronising one way, for no good reason. I tried un-installing and re-installing the program, but then it wouldn’t connect at all to Live Mesh.

To add insult to injury, upon un-installing a folder of file conflicts was generated by Live Mesh containing 11 files going back to August last year. I had thought that occasionally changes had gone missing, but as no conflicts had been flagged, I just assumed it wasn’t the case. Now I know otherwise. Indeed, un-installing Live Mesh on my 2 other computers also generated folders full of file conflicts.

So, the search was on for a replacement.

My initial investigations lead me to ZumoDrive. Now, ZumoDrive works in a different way to Live Mesh. Again you assign folders to share, but here you have a new mapped drive letter on which each shared computer appears with the shared folders under each. With Mesh there was no concept of which computer the data was coming from – it was all one shared “mass”. I’ll admit I wasn’t keen. None-the-less, ZumoDrive have an excellent matching Android App, which even separates out music and photos.

However, the initial synchronisation took forever – in fact it seemed to sit on “idle” with no transfer activity at all. On top of that some files transferred over with missing icons.

Next, I came to Dropbox. One of the most popular solutions, I’d initially avoided it because of the lack of a matching Android App 1. However, it’s the one I’ve settled with.

Dropbox is simplicity itself – maybe too simple for some people. Basically, it places a folder on your PC (wherever you wish to put it) and anything you place in it gets synchronised with your other PCs. And the best bit – it’s damn fast. The initial synchronisation of 10MB of data took no time at all, and file modifications have been almost instant. I’m very, very impressed.

Only one issue so far – after booting up one of my computers this morning it didn’t, even after a number of minutes active, pick up on a number of file changes that I’d made. It was only when I added something to the Dropbox folder on that computer did it transfer everything else. I’m sure it was just my impatience though…

Capacity is not a great issue for me as I’m only synchronising small amounts of data however it should be noted that Mesh provides 5GB and ZumoDrive and Dropbox 2GB. ZumoDrive initially provides 1GB and you have to perform a series of tasks to receive the extra 1GB. Dropbox does similar and you can continue to increase your capacity by signing up new customers.

  1. although one is due soon[]

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2 Comments

  1. How about Windows Live Sync, I use it between two laptops and a desktop.

    • Yes, I came across this. From the Microsoft forums, it would appear that Mesh is a mature version of the technology that Live Sync is based upon. For this reason, I skipped trying it.

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