We recently had some major storm damage to our house, and our insurance payment was more than enough to facilitate repairs. We also needed a new PC, so with the leftover cash, we got ourselves a custom-built PC, built for gaming and freeze-free computing.
Check the specs: Two 2.8Ghz processors, 4GB(!) of RAM, and 320GB hard-drive space. I don’t know who the fudge needs three hundred and twenty gigs (unless you’re Google), but I’ve got it anyway. This thing, ladies and gentlemen, is a roaring, snarling beast, thus we’ve named it “Big Daddy”. Our older PC is still alive and kicking, and has been dubbed “Little Sister”.
While on the subject of gaming, I would like to advise you that the power of your new rig will not make you suck any less when playing Quake Live. Incidentally, my username there is TimDub, if any MUO readers want free target practice.
The inevitable subject came up of moving our files from Lil’ Sis to Big D. These PCs have multiple users, so we must have an easy way to open our files, no matter which PC we’re using. Also, file transfers between the two should be ridiculously simple.
Anyone who has ever set up a home network knows just how much of a pain it is. I’m not A+ certified, so personally, I seem to only get network shares to be accessible 1/3 of the time.
In the end, I decided not to move the files at all to the new PC. I would sync them.
It’s chic, when a geek, to talk trash about Microsoft, but not I. Not today. As I write this on Windows Live Writer, our personal files are effortlessly hopping back and forth between Big Daddy and Little Sister, courtesy of Windows Live Sync.
WLS is one of the nicest tools I’ve used in a long time. Simple, too: I was able to explain what it does to my admitted-n00b wife in less than a minute. Her Quake Live name, BTW, is “FragMeRunnin.”
I’ll walk you through the setup, but first, you’ll need a Windows Live ID. This was formerly known as Microsoft Passport, so you may already have one. If not, set up an account at Live.com with any email address.
Once you’ve signed in with your WLID, head for Sync.Live.com and download the client to all the computers you’re going to sync. WLS supports Windows and Mac OS. All the setup is done within the browser on the Sync site. You’ll select a computer and then pick a folder on the file system to sync with the other PC.
A good place to start is linking your Windows “My Documents” folders on each PC. They’re located at C:\Documents and Settings\Username\My Documents. In this example, I’m linking my stepson DJ’s folders. I tried to sync the entire Documents and Settings folder, but for some reason you cannot sync Desktop folders, except for the All Users’ shared Desktop. Weird.
Once you’ve reached your folder and click “Sync folder here,” that folder will appear under your Personal folders list. If you’re going to sync up multiple folders with similar names, you may want to click on the folder and re-name it on the next screen to avoid confusion.
On the other PC, your Personal folders list will show up with a right-click on the Sync icon in your System Tray. Gold folders have been linked, but not gray folders. Click a gray folder to open a browser window and link that folder to a local folder. Repeat for any other folders you wish to link.
We’ve had this setup for several days now, and the synchronizing process is hardly noticeable. The only hiccup seems to occur when users on both PCs have the same file open, but this is common with any network. A general rule is to make sure that any shared files are not being accessed by another party. For those of you with privacy concerns, the file transfers are directly between PCs, and are also encrypted. Nothing is stored on a Microsoft server.
WLS may be the easiest and best backup tool I’ve used. We love to give you options, so please leave alternative suggestions in the comments below. I’m gonna go get my Quake on.