Syncing multiple SkyDrive accounts at the same time on one machine

I have a Windows Home Server, and I wanted to keep a synced copy of all files from every SkyDrive account in my family on this machine, so that these files would be included in my backups.

It used to be that Live Mesh allowed you to share AccountA’s folders with AccountB, and sync those folders to a machine that was running Mesh as AccountB. In effect, this could be used to sync the files from multiple accounts to one machine. This ability was lost when Mesh was retired in favor of SkyDrive. The SkyDrive team has been slowly adding Mesh-like functionality, so hopefully they will get there soon. In the meantime, here’s a solution that is working fine for me.

  1. Install SkyDrive, with the latest version of Windows Live Essentials.
  2. Create an account on the machine for both AccountA and AccountB.
  3. Log in to Windows with AccountA, run SkyDrive, and set up SkyDrive to sync AccountA’s files to some local directory.
  4. Log out. Log in with AccountB, run SkyDrive, and set up SkyDrive to sync AccountB’s files to a different local directory.

At this point, SkyDrive will run and sync files for either account whenever that account is logged in to Windows. But in my case I wanted the sync to happen whether or not the account was logged in, so I used Task Manager to keep SkyDrive running in the background. It seems that you can do this for as many different accounts as you want; they will all run in parallel and keep their respective folders synced. To do this:

  1. Open the Task Manager interface. One way to do this is to click Start and in the search box type “task”.
  2. Click on Task Scheduler Library. In the right-hand pane, right-click and select Create New Task…
  3. On the General tab, give the task a name like “Run SkyDrive as AccountA“. Click the Change User or Group button and enter AccountA. Select the “Run whether the user is logged on or not” radio button.
  4. On the Triggers tab, click New, select the option to begin the task “At startup“, and check the checkbox to repeat the task every “1 hour” for a duration of “Indefinitely“. Click OK.
  5. On the Actions tab, click New, and enter “C:\Users\AccountA\AppData\Local\Microsoft\SkyDrive\SkyDrive.exe”. In the Arguments text box, enter “/background”. Be sure to run SkyDrive from the target account’s profile directory.
  6. On the Settings tab, check the checkbox next to “If the task fails, restart.” You can set it to try to restart every “1 hour” for up to 999 times. Make sure that “Do not start a new instance” is selected in the drop-down listbox at the bottom of the dialog.
  7. Click OK. Right-click on the task an select Run, or restart your machine to start the SkyDrive instance.

Repeat steps 5-11 for AccountB or any other accounts you want to sync in the background.

Whether you have one account or several, you can use Scheduled Tasks in this way to ensure that your SkyDrive files continue to sync even when the account isn’t logged on to the machine. In other words, this is a crude way of simulating the behavior of a SkyDrive client-side service.

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