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Posted January 2, 2009

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Cloud Computing Part Two: Windows Live Sync

Navigating the Microsoft Cloud

what is cloud compuingCloud computing means storing and accessing your information on a remote server instead of your hard drive.

As I mentioned in the previous post, there are three distinct services available in Microsoft's new Windows Live suite: Live Sync, Live Mesh and SkyDrive. You can use any or all of them by setting up one Windows Live account. This way one user account name and one password gives you access to all three of these very cool products. If you are already using Hotmail or Windows Messenger, you're good to go because that means you already have a Windows Live account.

If SkyDrive is like your own personal hard drive in the Microsoft Cloud, Windows Live Sync is like emailing files to yourself or others on steroids or as Microsoft describes it, it's FolderShare 2.0. You remember FolderShare, don't you? Well, Microsoft FolderShare is history. In November of 2008 Microsoft replaced it with Live Sync.

So what is Live Sync? It is a free-to-use application by Microsoft that is designed to allow files and folders between two or more computers be in sync with each other on Windows (XP and later) and Mac OS X based computers. Windows Live SyncA maximum of 20 folders may be synced. Each folder can contain a maximum of 20,000 files and each file cannot exceed 2GB. You can use Live Sync to synchroniz files and folders on as many as 8 pc's.

Even though Live Sync has been available in its present configuration for use in beta form since early in November of 2008, it was formally released on December 11, 2008. So this is a very new application and even though it's out of beta, Microsoft says that it is still working to improve it.

Installing Windows Live Sync

O.K., so how does it work? Well, first off download it to your computers. You can get to Windows Live Sync by going to or by clicking here. You start by going to the Sync Live site and downloading the Sync Live software onto all of the computers with files and folders on them that you want to sync. If you don't have a Windows Live account, you'll have to sign up for one. Windows Live Sync - How Does It WorkIf you already have one, just click Install Sync. You will be offered to install for Windows or for Mac. The latest version of the Windows instillation as of this post is Ver: 14.0.8050.1202.

Once you've downloaded the setup program, locate it (I have my computers set up to save downloads to my Desktop) and click it and run it. You'll see the Welcome to the Windows Live Sync Setup Wizard so click Next. You'll be asked to accept terms and conditions and then Sync will install.

Once Sync is installed on your computer a shortcut icon will appear on your Desktop. Click it open and you will see the Windows Live Sync interface as shown in the illustration above. As you can see it will say, "To start synchronizing folders with another computer, install Windows Live Sync on that computer". And too, once Live Sync is installed, you'll be able to see its icon on the system trey by the clock in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen along with other programs that are currently running. Read the information in the black box below for further details.

  • If you don't see Sync's double arrow icon in the System Trey in the lower right-hand corner by the clock then you need to start Sync.

  • On the Start menu, click Programs or All Programs, click Windows Live, click Windows Live Sync, and then sign in using your Windows Live ID.

  • Now, Live Sync's icon should be displayed in the Systems Trey. Click the Sync icon and then click Website.

  • Under Personal folders or under Shared folders, click the name of the folder that you want to connect with the computer you're using.

  • Under Your computers connected to this folder, click Add a computer.

  • In the list of available computers, click the name of the computer.

  • Select the folder on the computer where you want Sync to synchronize the files, and then click Sync folder here.

  • To create a new folder, select a location, click Create new folder, type a name for the folder, and then click Create and sync.

  • Choose the synchronization setting that you want, and then click Finish.

More About Live Sync

Here is Microsoft's not so easy to locate documentation on installing and using Windows Live Sync.

Again, Windows Live Sync is brand new and just out of beta. Look for Microsoft to add improvements to this application and to incorporate it into Windows Live Mesh, which we'll talk about in another post. While I was able to install Live Sync and use it on two of my computers, Syncing Between Computers with Live Syncthe software is pretty buggy for now and I don't expect I'll be using it a great deal until Microsoft works out some of these bugs.

On the other hand, the first component of Microsoft's new Windows Live suite that I wrote about previously called SkyDrive seems to work beautifully. I urge you to look at the post just previous to this one and check out Windows Live SkyDrive. In the meantime, if you're looking for a way to Synchronize and backup important files and folders, I highly recommend that you check into Microsoft's free synchronizing software called SyncToy. Click here to find out more about it. You can also download it from this link. I intend to write a post about SyncToy in the near future. SyncToy is not part of the Microsoft Cloud. It's stand-alone software that you download and install on your hard drive. Watch this video to learn more about SyncToy.

I certainly would not want to discourage anyone from using Live Sync. I intend to keep Live Sync on my computers and to keep checking for updates to this ambitious Windows application. There are some features that Live Sync needs to make it more usable, such as the ability to view files within the program. As Microsoft continues to improve and add to the useability of Windows Live Sync, I'll keep my eye on it and keep you posted.

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