Windows Mesh won't run on XP... options?
October 19, 2010 3:17 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a good solution for syncing files across several computers with several users. Something like Windows Live Mesh, except I can't use that because several of the computers run Windows XP, which Mesh doesn't support.

I run a small business with several "agents" out in various distant locations. We've been using MS Live Sync (previously Foldershare) to sync a number of files in a number of directories.

Unfortunately MS is deactivating Sync and forcing everyone over to Mesh. That wouldn't be a problem except that Mesh requires Vista SP2 to run. It does not work on XP. Several of the computers run XP.

I need the following features:

- able to add a number of different users with different levels of access permission. Some would be read-only access for example. There are about 10 different users and 13 or 14 different computers (i.e. some people Sync up laptops as well as their desktops).

- reasonably simple to use. I'm an IT enthusiast and I like bells and whistles. There are some users who are very wary of complexity who will simply refuse to use a product if it involves much setup and maintenance.

- not too costly. Some of the products I've looked at such as Dropbox charge a monthly fee per user. With all these users this product would end up costing us thousands of dollars per year, to replace something we previously got (Sync) completely free.

Most of the computers run Vista or Windows 7 and can thus use Mesh.

I was wondering if it might be possible to piggyback Mesh with something else like Dropbox so that the Mesh computers would sync with each other and we'd also run Dropbox on top of it to Sync some of those same directories with the XP computers. This, if it works, would seem to be an acceptable solution because then only a few users would need Dropbox.


Many of us have Groove 2007. Unfortunately many of us also have x64 machines and Groove 2007 doesn't completely work with x64 platforms.

Can someone knowledgeable of Groove let me know if it is capable of doing basic folder synchronisation like Mesh/Sync on x64 machines and furthermore would Groove conflict with Mesh if they were both running and syncing the same folders?
posted by Mokusatsu to Technology (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you may need to roll your own and modify the iFolder clone of Dropbox.

But some questions come to mind:

Is this to be a "live" sync, so that user A updates a file and user B gets it? Or is this more "an offline copy that gets synced on occasion"?

Would everyone see all the files, all the time? That is, maybe user C can't write, but he can read everything? Or is it where user D can't see folder XYZ at all?

Is there any reason why you cannot set up a VPN and let the users access a network share?
posted by Old'n'Busted at 5:16 AM on October 19, 2010

Is there any reason why you can't upgrade your XP boxes to Windows 7?

If there is, I'd be inclined to do as Old'n'Busted suggests. Files on network shares can be client-side cached; you don't need continuous network access to use them.
posted by flabdablet at 6:28 AM on October 19, 2010

I just started using GoodSync at home and office, and I really, really like it. It's...not the most easy thing to set up in the universe, but it's on par with all the other sync software I've used before. Make a rule, set up a schedule, and let it run.

I am personally using it to sync important files to S3.

I appreciate it because it will do 1 way mirrors (with or without destruction), 2-way sync...and a myriad of other options including syncing based on modification time, etc.

I ALMOST deleted a bunch of stuff that was on the s3 but not the local folder, it wants to do destructive mirroring by default, so watch out for that if you're only going to do 2-way.

This would likely require you to have a file dump at a third party location, whether just one shared drive, a dropbox, an s3, whatever.
posted by TomMelee at 8:48 AM on October 19, 2010

Do these remote users have internet access? I'd rather implement a file server solution with VPN than deal with local agents all trying to sync up at random times, third-party tools, internet storage back and forth, etc especially when we're talking more than 3 or 4 users.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:15 AM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Does GoodSync let me give external parties access to synced folders with different permissions?

I'm guessing the Enterprise version probably does, but that version looks pretty expensive for what we are doing. The website seems a little vague on whether this is a flexible multi-user synch tool, or just something to keep your personal laptop and desktop synced to each other.
posted by Mokusatsu at 7:04 PM on October 19, 2010

External meaning people outside the WAN/LAN? I have no idea, haven't used it for that. It'll SSL/FTP/SFTP/S3/etc, and drives are mappable, so...probably?

And I'm honestly not sure if it's a multiuser sync tool, however you can make it one if you're dumping all files to a third location. It'll look at user 1 and file 1 and say "more recent version exists on the server, copying to user 1", and it'll say "more recent version of file 2 exists on user 1, copying to file server." And then when everyone else's copy looks at file 2 and sees that it's newer on the server and syncs it locally.

That may not be the elegant solution that you're looking for, but it works. I do something similar to this, where that third party location is a large external hdd, except that that file dump also happens to be the dropbox folder. Now there's redundant backup that's always got the most recent version.
posted by TomMelee at 5:27 AM on October 20, 2010

Response by poster: Yes, outside the LAN. The people I'm sharing with are thousands of km away on the other side of the country.
posted by Mokusatsu at 2:20 AM on October 21, 2010

I gotcha. I glossed over that part.

If you're just worried about making sure everyone has the Most Recent Version of a document that's not collaborated on, I'd be inclined to try something possibly overkill like Joomla with DocMan. If you're actually collaborating on things and not having multiple copies of the same file open concurrently at several locations, I'd try syncing to s3. Still a monthly fee, but OMG cheap.

You may also find some success with creating a file-naming standard to prevent accidental overwrites.
posted by TomMelee at 5:30 AM on October 21, 2010

This may be a little out there, but have you considered using something like subversion?
posted by redyaky at 3:13 PM on October 22, 2010

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