Live Mesh tutorial: Synchronising Windows Live Messenger content

After the first tutorial about synching browser favourites across devices using Live Mesh, we thought it was time to step it up a gear and take on Windows Live Messenger. Its always been notoriously difficult to transfer emoticons between PCs, let alone backup the winks, DDPs and dynamic backgrounds you may have. This method will sync all of the above, and if you want to, synchronise your file transfers and chat history too.

Here’s some points before we start the synching. Please read, as they are important!

1. This has only been tested on Windows Live Messenger 8.1 and above, as prior to this content was stored in a different way. It doesn’t matter if you are using different versions on different devices. The folders we will be synchronising are:

Vista: <Users>AppDataLocalMicrosoftMessenger
XP: Documents and Settings<Users>Local SettingsApplication DataMicrosoftMessenger

From now on, we’ll call this the “Messenger folder”.

2. Backup all of the files being synchronised before starting.

3. We recommend disabling Sharing Folders.

4. Synchronising between two devices with existing Messenger installations will give a lot of unresolved conflicts, due to the default content Microsoft provides for new installations. To avoid this, delete the Messenger folder (recycle bin please!) on device 2 before synchronising. Obviously this works best if device 2 has a new installation – if its an existing installation, then you’ll need to manually resolve the conflicts during the sync process .

5. Close down all instances of Messenger until the Mesh synchronisation is fully complete. More about that later.

With the parachute check complete, lets make the jump.

Step 1: Navigate to the Messenger folder on your first device, right click and choose Add To Mesh.

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Step 2: Change the synchronisation settings so that it only maps to the web desktop – we’ll reverse this in Step 5. Click Ok to turn this into a Mesh folder and wait for it to turn blue.

Step 3: In your second device, click the Live Mesh icon in the system tray to view the list of active folders. The Messenger folder shared in device 1 should be transparent, showing that its not currently being synchronised to this device. Click the folder name and then set the location to be the existing Messenger folder on device 2.

Vista: <Users>AppDataLocalMicrosoftMessenger
XP: Documents and Settings<Users>Local SettingsApplication DataMicrosoftMessenger

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Step 4: Live Mesh will then prompt you to merge the existing Messenger folder with your synchronised folder. Accept this prompt.

Step 5: In the web desktop, right click the Messenger folder and change the synchronisation options to remove the Web Desktop, leaving just the devices you have setup already. Accept the prompt by selecting Continue.

Note, while you may be tempted to backup your Messenger content to the cloud, there are a lot of files in this directory and all the sub-directories. Use with caution.

Step 6: This is the key step. You’ll need to allow Mesh enough time to synchronise all the content between the devices. On our tests this took between 15-30 minutes, due to the large number of small files that existed. If you run Messenger during this period, on either device, it’ll likely cause more unresolved conflicts and the content won’t work correctly. Trust us, it’s much better if you wait. If any unresolved conflicts do appear, just go for the newest file.

Step 7: If you wish to synchronise files received through Messenger’s file transfer, repeat the above for the additional folder:

(My) DocumentsMy Received Files.

By default your chat history will be saved here too, meaning that you’ll always be able to find that valuable password or web address you need from the conversation last night.

This process assumes you are using just one Live ID within Messenger, which may not be the case. Inside the Messenger folder there will be a directory for each Live ID used – just select the appropriate one and then follow the steps through with that.

If you insist on using Shared Folders, then you will only want to synchronise the ObjectStore folder within each Live ID directory. Otherwise you’ll be synchronising these files twice and who knows how that will end up!

Thoughts? Comments? Let us know below!