Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Sometimes life just meshes

So We’ve been working on a test.  This test went well.  We started about 7 months ago or so but I don’t remember the exact date.  Here was the issue…

We are a small business with a few computers in the office, Laptops are key because we take them with us wherever we go.  But like a lot of people we don’t have great backups.  We don’t have a server currently (although we have in the past).  We also don’t have a good tape backup system in case everything crashes, even though I recommend them for some customers our resources don’t require it.  In the past we kept files on the laptops backed up to the server.  We bought an external drive to keep some files backed up but only had one drive to share between computers which doesn’t really work that well.  Also it doesn’t work great to have an external drive for each computer because it becomes difficult to know where a file is or should be.  We are small but do need to share files sometimes which without a server didn’t work well.  Then a hard drive crashed on one laptop and although many files are on the External drive there were still some key things lost.

So we had tried a few different ways of working around these issues and then I came across an notification of a new product by Microsoft called Mesh (  They say Sync, Share, Access.

I thought this could help.  So first step was install the mesh app on our laptops (need a Live ID for this such as a hotmail account etc.)  So by doing that and setting up some mesh folders for my important docs I now have an Internet backup of my files for free up to 5 Gigabytes.  This is very cool -- one big problem down.  Now if my hard drive crashes I still have my files in “the cloud”.  I previously played with Microsoft’s Skydrive and this is a cool tool but you have to upload the files you want to backup and download them if you want to use them.  Skydrive can work well for archiving files that I don’t access regularly or for placing files I need when at a customers office such as drivers or some work files.  However with Mesh I just use the files on my computer (in the mesh folders) and if I change them they are automatically synched for me.  I hope they expand the size to 25 GB like Skydrive did. 

Now the next step in the test.   Sync was taken care of now for Share.  We created a folder which we can share.  So we have files in this folder which all of us can work on.  If I open the file and make a change I then save it, once it is synched the others can open it and see the changes I made.  Very cool and we don’t even have to be in the same building on the same network.  Of course these days everybody is all on the same network and that is the point isn’t it.  So Share worked out great for us.  We work on the same files without having to worry about version copies or duplicates getting confused.

The next step is Access but I haven’t played with that because I always have my laptop around and I don’t need to access it remotely.  Maybe someday I’ll test that feature as well but just with the Sync and Share I’m a happy person.  A lot of problems are solved and Microsoft has a winner.  This is the future of the Internet, there are other takes on the subject and we will see more done in this world of mass-collaboration.  This one is simple and worked wonders for me.  Solves some of my problems and if you think ahead actually provides many new opportunities for me to collaborate with others.  Maybe someday you and I will have a shared folder.  Then our lives will Mesh!