Posted by: Lee | July 28, 2011

How to Install Windows Live Mesh as a Service on Windows Home Server 2011

The Ace in the Pack

Windows Live Mesh is an often overlooked and underrated brilliant little piece of software from Microsoft which is part of the Windows Live Essentials suite. In a nutshell it allows you to sync folders in real time between PCs (and Macs) over a network or the internet and also allows you to sync up to 5gb into the cloud…all for free.

This kind of functionality clearly has a natural synergy with Windows Home Server, so much so that I seriously believe Microsoft should build a Windows Live Mesh add-on for Windows Home Server (there has been talk of this in the past but nothing has come to fruition). It’s the perfect piece of software for synchronising your documents and pictures between your computers and home server meaning you have multiple copies and you also have local access to them when not connected to your server. I even use it for backing up my parents documents and pictures over the internet from their computer at their home to my home server meaning they have an offsite backup…brilliant.

Now, unfortunately, Mesh cannot be installed on Windows Home server V1 (which is a shame as its predecessor Windows Live Sync could) but it can be installed onto Windows Home Server 2011. The draw back though is that Mesh requires someone to be logged on in order for the software to run, which for a Home Server is a bit annoying. This give you 2 options, you can configure your Home Server to auto logon when it boots so that Mesh runs or you can install it as a service. The latter I believe is far more preferable and is also pretty easy to do as I shall explain…

 

Prerequisites

To get Mesh running as a service there are a few prerequisite steps that need carrying out:

  1. Firstly logon to your Home Server as Administrator and install Mesh as you normally would i.e. as part of Windows Live Essentials. You can choose to not install the other components of the suite.
  2. Run Mesh, logon in with your Windows Live Account and then set up the folders you wish to sync, again as your normally would if you were setting it up on your computer
  3. Once Mesh is configured download the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit (yes 2003) and install it to the default location
  4. Next download Any Service Installer and extract it to a folder somewhere on your server.
  5. Right click the Mesh icon in the system tray and click exit

You’re now ready to set-up mesh as a service.

 

Installing Mesh as a Service

Step 1 –Stop Mesh Loading at Logon

Before you go installing a service for Mesh you want may want to stop it loading automatically when you logon to the server (you don’t have to with Mesh, it can work in conjunction with the service). Usefully there is no option to do this in the software itself so the most straight forward way to do it is by using a nifty built in utility called Msconfig.

On the home server desktop click Start – Run type Msconfig and click OK. The following window will pop up:

image

Click on the Startup tab and remove the tick from Windows Live Mesh

image

Click OK and select No to any message regarding restarting the server

Step 2 – Installing the Service

Now there are many ways to install an application as a service but by far one of the easiest ways is using Any Service Installer which pretty much automates the process.

Browse to the folder where you extracted Any Service Installer and double click AnyServiceInstaller.exe.

image

Click the Browse option to select the location of the Windows 2003 resource kit and navigate to the following location (assuming you installed it to the default location of course) and click OK:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Resource Kits\Tools

Click the Browse option to set the application that should be used as a service and select the following:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Live\Mesh\WLSync.exe

The service name can be anything you want, i chose the original and unique:

Windows Live Mesh

You should end up with a window that looks like the following:

image

Click Create, a message will pop up along the bottom of the windows to say the service was created successfully.

 

Step 3 – Verify and Configure the Service

Once the service is installed you need to check it’s installed and also configure it. Click Start – Run type Services.msc and click OK

image

Scroll down the through the services list and locate your newly created service (in my case “Windows Live Mesh”). Double click it:

image

You’ll notice the path to the executable is “C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Resource Kits\Tools\srvany.exe”, don’t worry, that’s correct and is how it should be.

Click on the Log On tab. By default the service will be set up to run as the Local System account. This needs to be changed as this account doesn’t have the right level of access to let Mesh run.

Click on This account and enter Administrator. In the password fields enter the Administrator accounts password and then click OK. A message will pop up saying Administrator has been granted log on as a service rights. click OK

image

The mesh service is now configured, right click the service it and select Start.

image

If you run Task Manager (right click start bar and select Task Manager) you should see the following processes running:

Srvany.exe
MOE.exe
WLSync.exe

And if you browse to Devices.live.com you should be able to see that your Home Server is communicating with Mesh (it may take a minute or so to connect):

image

If you can see all the above, congratulations you have successfully set up Windows Live Mesh as a Service.

Step 4 – Administrating Windows Live Mesh

In the future if you wish to change any sync folders for Mesh on the Home Server, simply log onto the server and run Windows Live Mesh from the Start Menu. This will connect to the already running MOE.exe and allow you to change your settings. If you exit Mesh from the system tray or log off Mesh will continue to run as a service in the background.

Happy Syncing……

Leod

Update:

Windows guru and ZDnet Author @edbott has also kindly pointed out that rather than installing as a service you can also use Windows Task Scheduler to create a scheduled task that runs at startup to launch Windows Live Mesh in the background. The beauty of Windows, multiple ways to achieve the same goal, gotta love choice Winking smile……

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Responses

  1. This is excellent. I will do this once I have WHS 2011 up and running. MS should have done this automatically but they don’t seem to care about WHS anymore. Thanks.

  2. [...] this. The first is the run as a scheduled task that loads at startup method and secondly the run as a service method which is the preferred way of doing things. [...]

  3. works great, no problems at all :)

  4. How does this work for multiple user accounts on WHS? It appears to me that logging in as a service requires specifying a single account. Not true?

    • 3 Options:

      1) Only use the 1 mesh account to sync the required folders across all your machines
      2) Share the folders from the other Mesh accounts with the mesh account running on the Home Server, that way all the different users folders could be synced on the home server using only account (you could create a dedicated Mesh account for the Home Server)
      3) Create multiple service instances (with different names) and start these services using different server user accounts

      I use option 1 but option 2 is also perfectly viable. Option 3 would just be messy

      Leod

  5. Option 3 would be messy but the only way to segregate access. The drawback would be that the stored passwords are static, while the password for the Mesh account might change. Of course, that’s true for single accounts, as well.

    It would be really nice if MS would build an WHS 2011 add-in to allow linking a WHS user account to a Mesh account. That would provide essentially unlimited storage that’s on all the time.

    Chris

  6. Works great! I was looking for a way to get live mesh on my home server and this is it!!

  7. Hi. I recently bought Windows Home Server 2011, and I would like to install Live Mesh on it for synchronizing folders. I have logged in on the server as admin, but I cannot install programs. I can’t right click and get the “run as administrator” option either for running the .exe file with Live Mesh. When I double click the exe file, I just get the “open with” window.

    How can I install it? Do you know what my problem is?

    • Unfortunately it sounds like your server has gone a bit pear shaped. Can you install anything else on the server?

  8. What are the advantages of doing this, over using the WHS2011 Web Access to manage and monitor your server remotely?

    • The idea of installing Mesh is that data automatically synchronises between your server and PCs, even when away from home. This means you have constant multiple copies of your data.

  9. I cant seem to install this onto WHS2011 at all! Im wondering if there was a update that disallows this.

    Can someone confirm that they can isntall this on WHS2011 with all the updates applied?

    • Not had a problem. What error do you get?

      • No error actually. I downloaded WLE on WHS2011. These are the only options I get:

        There is no option for WL Mesh. So extracted the WL Mesh msi from the offline downloader and it wont run either!

  10. I found a WLE Installer from June of 2011 on my laptop. It seems to include WL Mesh. Can someone attempt to DL WLE on a PC without it and see if WL Mesh is listed there?

    Did MS pull it to make way for a Win8 feature?

  11. This is great. I am using WHS 1. Seems like it should work… any thoughts on that?

    • You can’t install the latest version of Mesh or Windows Live Essentials in general on Server 2003 unfortunately which means you can’t install it on WHS v1

  12. Excellent. Thank you very much.

    Christophe


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