Email & PIM; home & work. How to handle?

I want to review the best way of handling PIM (contacts, calendar, tasks, notes) and email.

At Work

My work set-up is fixed: Outlook and an Exchange server. This is used for Email, Contacts, Calendar, Tasks (and I would like to have my categorised Notes too but at the moment that is an issue)

What I need on my phone

  1. Contacts: work contacts & home contacts
  2. Appointments: work & home
  3. Tasks: work & home (although home ones could just be maintained on the phone)
  4. Notes: work & home
  5. I don’t look at emails on my phone (I have a home email address which I look at when home; and a work email address which I look at when at work)

Both work and home information is needed on the phone: work and home contacts, appointments, tasks and notes. This is the starting point for my thinking. It probably means that work and home PIM should probably always be stored together.

Home PC

I want to have Contacts, Appointments, Tasks, Notes and (home) Email. I prefer to use Outlook for these because it has excellent functionality, you can navigate very quickly between between different bits of information and the search is good.

Actually we have two home PCs now so having Outlook on both (synchronised) would be great!

What I would like

So the optimum solution would be to keep the following synchronised:

  • MS Exchange at work (this I have to use)
  • Outlook on my home PC (for excellent functionality) (and on the other home PC too if possible)
  • my phone (currently a phone that runs Windows Mobile 5.1 professional although I could change to a different phone)
    Except I don’t want emails synchronised – want home emails at home, work emails at work, and neither on my phone – although I do use web access to occasionally access home or work emails when travelling


  • Synchronisation: I use Windows Active Sync to synch my phone: wirelessly to Exchange and with a cable to my home PC. If I change any Outlook entries on the work PC I have to be careful that my next sync is to Exchange otherwise my latest changes can get overwritten (similarly if I change anything on the home PC I have to make sure the next sync is to the home PC). This is awkward and sometimes it goes wrong
  • Notes: to get categorised Notes on my phone I had to purchase SmartphoneNotes. This synchronises to the home PC but not to work PC: a big problem for me. The synchronisation to the home PC is incredibly slow (I have over 1500 notes) and opening the program on the phone is also painfully slow. I tried Phatnotes instead but that is very slow when using the application (a least smartphoneNotes is quick to use once it’s open)
  • Two home PCs Can I have Outlook (PIM and home emails) on both home PCs and synchronised?! If I use IMAP for downloading email then I can have emails in sync between an email web client and both home computers BUT that won’t help with tasks, calendars and contacts (and if it was just emails I was interested in I would probably abandon Outlook for Gmail).

Synchronising Outlook between two home computers

 I guess what I am really looking for is the power of the Outlook application on the PCs but the data to be held in the cloud and synchronised across the computers. There is software to synchronise Outlook between PCs (at a price) eg SimpleSyn, or Sync Outlook (runs in the background but $100!) and SynchPst (unfortunately have to run manually & needs Outlook closed!) – the last two are reviewed at – this post has many helpful comments on it (eg “try gSyncit: synchronises Outlook PIM with Gmail”)

Alternatively, if I’m going to pay money I could go for a hosted exchange ? eg


1) Do notes separately from Outlook

One of the big problems at the moment (see above) is with Notes. There is no reason why Notes would need to be in the same app as emails, calendar or contacts. So I decided to look for an app that would do just notes and:

  • sync notes between both home PCs, work PC and phone (and have them categorised on all platforms)
  • notes need to be available offline especially on the phone (that rules out Evernote)
  • categories, good search, tags
  • import from Outlook
  • quick and easy to use

Springpad might be a solution (if I can bear all the ads) .. BUT it’s not available for Windows mobile, which leads me to the next conclusion:

2) Maybe it’s time to change my phone to one that has a reasonable range of apps (Android or iphone I guess)


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