Live Mesh free online file storage and remote access capabilities are a new way of keeping your files in sync. It’s a free online service offering off-site storage with a lot of extra bells and whistles.

On the surface, it looks like a simple application designed to store your files on a web server so that they can be accessed from anywhere, keep all the specified files synchronized among your multiple computers (home computer, laptop, office PC, PDA, etc). Upon closer inspection, however, you’ll realize it’s a great deal more robust and detailed than that. Although five gigabytes of storage is available to anyone for free, Live Mesh appears to be designed with a professional audience working from home in mind. It provides a range of group-product collaboration tools reminiscent of Lotus Notes, MS Outlook, or Microsoft SharePoint-only open and platform independent.

Features and benefits

To use Live Mesh free online file storage, one simply downloads and installs the program on each device you want to join your Live Mesh. Next, select the folder(s) whose contents you want to synchronize with a simple right-click menu option. You can even set which devices in your Live Mesh you want that folder to synchronize with. Whenever you add, edit, or delete files in that folder, Live Mesh will automatically synchronize that change with the files on all the other devices in your Live Mesh.

Live Mesh Free Online File Storage
Sync your files with Live Mesh…

Furthermore, as all your synchronized folders are being stored on a web server, you can access these files from any computer in the world with an internet connection-even from some PDAs and cell phones! The web interface used is called “Live Desktop”. It is essentially a “virtual” computer on the internet that allows you to log into to adjust your synchronized files and folders without having to install the program on the computer-away-from-home you may be using. All Live Mesh tools and functionality are available as if you were at your own personal computer.

That’s the basic functionality of Live Mesh. However, it has a lot of extra features that turn it from a simple synchronization and remote-access tool into a versatile group product management tool. Primarily, it does this by integrating file-sharing capabilities into your personal Live Mesh free online file storage. For each activated folder (or subfolder), you can invite a specific person (via email) to join your shared folder and access the files inside. Your friend will, however, have to install the Live Mesh application on their computer as well in order to access it. Once that is done, however, Live Mesh will keep a synchronized copy of that shared folder on their computer, and update it automatically.

Each shared folder contains a “Live Mesh Toolbar” at the right side that provides relevant information. You can check all your synchronized folders and computers, adjust the synchronization settings, see who has access to (or is currently accessing) the folder, news related to the folder’s files (such as when a file has been changed and by who), and post messages to other shared users. It even integrates instant messaging with other folder users through Windows Live Messenger.

Remote Access?

Finally, Live Mesh free online file storage offers the ability to actually remotely access any computer in your Live Mesh from another one. This is particularly useful if the computer you are using can access the shared, synchronized file in your Live Mesh free online file storage folders, but does not have the proper program installed to actually open them. Furthermore, using this feature, you can access files on that target computer even if they are not shared and synched. The main drawback to this tool, however, is that it is built on the Windows Remote Desktop architecture, and so is only available for other Windows PC. Macintosh computers can access shared and synched files, and access the web-hosted Live Desktop, but cannot remotely access other computers.

Live Mesh free online file storage does have some drawbacks, however. Although it is more powerful and fully featured than other file sharing and synchronizing services, it consequently also demands more system resources, including a minimum of one gigabyte of RAM. Although it is supposedly cross-platform, it is essentially a service for Windows computers. Macs can access the Live Mesh only with greatly reduced functionality, and it is not compatible with Linux at all.

Finally, manually synchronizing files-especially with multiple users accessing shared files-is a recipe for confusion. Newer files can be overwritten by older ones, two people may try to save changes at the same time, and files can be accidentally deleted. It is hard to tell how Live Mesh handles these “oops” moments. Whereas most other companies that offer file sharing, synchronizing, and off-site storage services are quick to point out how their systems compensate for this human error factor, Live Mesh’s website if oddly silent on such issues.

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