When Microsoft released details on SkyDrive the complaints were immediate. It acts as a drive. It’s like any other drive on your PC. That’s cool but that means that if you wanted 10 files you were working on to be in your SkyDrive that means that the files needs to reside there and not on your local drives. It will not sync those folders through the SkyDrive folder (and thus the thing we called Live Mesh is effectively dead). LiveSide goes into the play by play here. Anyway, ever since I heard about this limitation I thought about the solution that MS has provided (even though it’s silly). It’s their free SyncToy application.

SyncToy 2.1 is a free application that synchronizes files and folders between locations. Typical uses include sharing files, such as photos, with other computers and creating backup copies of files and folders.

SyncToy, a free PowerToy for Microsoft Windows, is an easy to use, highly customizable program that helps users to do the heavy lifting involved with the copying, moving, and synchronization of different directories. Most common operations can be performed with just a few clicks of the mouse, and additional customization is available without additional complexity. SyncToy can manage multiple sets of folders at the same time; it can combine files from two folders in one case, and mimic renames and deletes in another case. Unlike other applications, SyncToy actually keeps track of renames to files and will make sure those changes get carried over to the synchronized folder.

So it’s an extra step but effectively if you set up SyncToy to sync the folders you care about to your SkyDrive I think that will give you what you want – a world that lives with SkyDrive and the abilities you liked in Live Mesh on Windows 8. Since LiveMesh may be dying (since SkyDrive is noted as replacing it) and SyncToy works to sync networked folders (which Mesh blocks) this may be a better long term solution.  Any techies out there to tell me if this works?


  1. Microsoft has made the choice to keep everything as simple as possible. Its hard to blame them as consumers are voting with their money that they prefer simple, hands-off services than they do a more complex, powerful solution.

    People keep yammering away at how Dropbox is the stuff and this is what comes with the consumerization of technology. Thankfully for power users there will always exist ways to get the advanced options you want to have available to you.

    People can start making the transition right now by organizing your files in a single folder. If you do it once its done and I don’t see the big deal about it anyway.

  2. Well if it means moving your My Documents folder into your SkyDrive folder, it may be a big deal, as I don’t think that will work (copy yes, move no). I am in the minority here, but my guess is 80-90% of all users keep their stored data in their My Documents folder, with its many subfolders. Like Music, Pictures, Videos, and everything else, as this is the default depository for all things saved.

    If SkyDrive and/or W8 provides a way around this, that would be a good thing for most users, but without being able to control what in the My Documents folder gets synced, that presents a reason for users to simply not do it. Or completely change they way they have been doing things for years. And you can forget that option for most.

    If DavidK’s Sync Toy does the trick as described though, then all is good again. Guess we will have to wait and see.

  3. I’ve been trying to use SyncToy in the past and it fails with bigger folder structures – enumeration takes ages.

  4. I like the idea of using SyncToy instead of Live Mesh, but Live Mesh offers more than just the ability to sync files. It provides secure remote desktop access to machines from any location on the web using a secure channel over http/https (even through corporate firewalls). Live Mesh is one my favourite free tools and is easy to use (ask my Mum!), so I am annoyed that MS are dropping it. Hopefully some bright spark will produce a replacement to fill the gap.

  5. If you’re working from your computer’s hard drive then don’t bother with SyncToy, just use the MS Skydrive application.

    If like me you’re working from a USB key then you’ve got problems. You can map it all and set up Synctoy easy as pie but it constantly spits out errors and doesn’t come close to Dropbox Portable AHK.

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