Sunday 11 October 2009

Up In The Clouds.

Here at The MacDoctor we're often asked by clients to provide a solution to sync their data across multiple machines. And the best way we've found is a system we use ourselves each and everyday. As opposed to one specific service it's actually a combination of services providing separately for email, calendars & contacts & program settings and finally for sync'ing specific user created files and folders. So what's the system and how does it work?

Well, first up is email and we really have to say is IMAP IMAP IMAP. It's certainly not the purpose of this post to explain in detail the full specifications of the protocol. But in essence switching to an IMAP capable server for your email will allow all your mailboxes and folders to remain in sync across multiple machines and platforms. There are as many providers who offer IMAP as those that don't. Our personal choice is Google Mail in the form of Google Apps but there are certainly many more options out there. You may find out your current provider offers IMAP but if not, switching to one that does can be fairly painless.

Second up is our use of MobileMe to sync contacts, calendars and various other program and system settings. This also provides us with push style updates of contacts and calendars to our iPhones, invaluable in the course of a busy and ever changing day. While certainly not denying the occasional problems we've all had with MobileMe syncing over the years, once setup correctly you forget how you ever lived without it.

And finally, DropBox provides our files and folders solution. Simple to setup, stable and reliable in use, the basic free 2GB solution works well for many clients and the paid 50GB model is cheap enough beyond that point.

Something to bear in mind with all three of these provisions and services, is that they not only provide a reliable and robust syncing solution but also an effective off-site backup solution for the data in question into the deal.

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