The cloud keeps your life in sync

One of the biggest challenges I face in my everyday life is how to keep information in sync between computers and devices. It’s quite simply my main technology headache.



Published: Sun 10 Apr 2011, 12:02 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:03 PM

My main computer is a MacBook Pro but I also use other computers on an everyday basis, including a PC notebook. My work files, about 30GB or so, sit in a folder that is synched with DropBox (dropbox.com), for which I pay $10 per month. With that, my files are kept in sync between the Mac and any other computers I install the DropBox app on. If I change a file on one computer, it’s instantly reflected on all the others. That is, if they’re connected to the Internet, of course. DropBox also keeps the files in my online account so I can at any time, just with a Web browser, download and add files to my account.

My bookmarks are kept in check with Google Chrome and Firefox. Chrome has had a syncing feature for some time and with version 4 it’s now also built-in to Firefox. Chrome’s solution has the edge, and it’s my favoured solution right now. It does not sync your bookmarks to an iOS device. However, that requires Apple’s MobileMe.

Speaking of MobileMe, it must be one of Apple’s most neglected products ever. Starting its life as iTools many years ago, it’s now a $100 per year service that is hard to recommend to anyone other than the very beginner to Mac or iPhone/iPad. MobileMe remains the easiest way to keep information and files in sync between Apple devices but it hasn’t really developed in years and we’re quickly approaching a do-or-die situation. It’s about time Apple revamps it, as it’s showing its age. Perhaps plans for MobileMe feature in the future of that huge datacentre they’ve built in North Carolina. At least I hope so as there’s so much promise in MobileMe.

But, if you live in an Apple-only world, with a Mac and iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, you should look at MobileMe. Apple’s online solution is only for its own platforms but it is the easiest way to keep things in check. I also have MobileMe but don’t really use its syncing powers other than to bring some information to my iPhone. Instead I rely on Gmail for keeping e-mail, schedule, contacts, documents, and more in check.

This is one area where an Android device has the edge compared to one based on iOS, as you would expect. When setting up on Android, you just enter your Gmail credentials and the device is populated with your contacts, calendar, and more, all over the air. Even apps that you’ve previously downloaded and installed appear like magic once you’ve entered your Gmail details. That’s one feat that Apple has yet to master with MobileMe.

Common between all these options is the cloud. It’s clear that to keep your data in sync between your computers, tablets and smartphones is to put that data in the cloud. What concerns you should have about that, about trusting the cloud, is a topic for another week.

—emiratesmac@gmail.com

Magnus Nystedt talks and writes about technology as much as he can. Follow him on Twitter as @mnystedt for the latest on consumer technology in the Middle East.


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