Archive for the 'Sync' Category

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)

Active Sync hangs

I had been happily synchronising my phone with Outlook for many months (using Active Sync) and then one day it kept hanging. It never got past the “Looking for changes ” stage. It just carried on saying “looking for changes” and nothing changed. It didn’t produce any error messages and the ActiveSync troubleshooter said everything was ok

After trying many things I replaced the cable connecting PC to phone – and all was ok!

My setup
PC running Windows XP SP3
Palm Treo Pro running Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
Palm connects to PC using ActiveSync4.5

Setting-up Sync of WMP to Phone

Recommendation: don’t sync your phone to Windows Media Player using ActiveSync. Just use the sync facility in WMP itself: it’s less problematic (and you can choose which music to sync).

Originally I synchronised the storage card in my phone to WMP on my PC using ActiveSync. That meant, however, that I was never able to do a quick sync of phone to PC because it would always include WMP in the sync (and if left connected it would often decide to re-sychronise just for fun). 

One day, as explained in another post (“WMP corrupted … music duplicated”) my music tracks had all been duplicated on the phone, so I deleted them all off the storage card and started again. (That particular problem was probably not related to ActiveSync, but I took the opportunity to do something different).

Inspired by the following helpful web page
I decided to setup the synchronisation from within WMP and not in ActiveSync:

1. Made sure WMP was not running on the phone (otherwise there can be problems synchronising album art)
2. Plugged phone into PC
3. Because previously I had been sychronising WMP with ActiveSync, when I plugged the phone in, ActiveSync said “Setup must be completed” for Media. I ignored this, and when ActiveSync’s other sychronisation had completed, in Active Sync I selected Tools -> Options -> and unchecked “Media” -> ok
4. Opened WMP on the PC. Clicked the arrow below the Sync tab -> Storage Card -> Setup Sync
It then started synchronising straight away so clicked the arrow below the Sync tab -> Stop Sync
5. Sync -> Storage Card -> Advanced Options -> selected Quality tab -> left Convert ticked and selected quality (I selected maxium – but I have a big storage card)
(On the Sync tab I unchecked “Start sync when this device connects” – I prefer to start it manually)
6. Sync -> Storage Card -> Setup sync
Left “sync this device automatically” checked (otherwise it will only sync specific tracks that you drag into the right-hand pane in WMP)
Removed everything from the right-hand box except what I wanted sychronised (I left “All Music” but that only works if you have a big storage card)
-> Finish -> it starts sychronising

One of several helpful tips from the web page previously quoted is …. on your phone, in WMP don’t select “update library” as it will probably copy onto your phone all sorts of things you don’t want there.

My setup
Windows Media Player 11 running on an XP PC
Palm Treo Pro running Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
Palm connects to PC using ActiveSync4.5

WMP11 corrupted, then all my music duplicated on my phone

For a while I have been syncing my phone with Windows Media Player on my PC

One day the PC gave a message “Windows Media Player Database Corrupted” …. “the library database is corrupted” and something along the lines of … don’t worry, it will re-build itself.  Sure enough I didn’t have a problem with WMP on the PC, but …

Next time I connected my phone to the PC, ActiveSync came up with a message that, for Media sync, setup needed to be completed. I proceeded with the setup.

The Sync then went ahead – but it copied all my music to my phone again – so that every song was duplicated on the phone! (My phone has a 16GB storage card but I have about 9GB of music – so this was a problem!). When I used WMP on the phone it listed every track twice. When I used File Explorer on the phone this also listed every track twice.

1. In WMP I ended the sync partnership with the storage card (see separate post below)
2. I then deleted all the music on the storage card
– I connected the phone to the PC and ignored the request to setup media sync
– In ActiveSync clicked on Explore -> My Windows Based Mobile Device -> Storage Card -> Music -> deleted all the sub-folders
– however, although the tracks had been deleted from the storage card, WMP on the phone was still listing them all (and if I asked it to play one it unsurprisingly crashed). So…
3. In ActiveSync clicked on Explore -> My Windows Based Mobile Device -> Storage Card -> deleted file WMPInfo (I first did copied it to my PC just in case) BUT the music was still listed in WMP so …
Also in folder \Storage Card\MSMETADATA deleted the file (took a backup too)
Now the tracks don’t show in WMP on the phone
4. Now I was ready to follow the prompt in ActiveSync to complete setup for Media and all should be ok
HOWEVER I was inspired to set-up Media sync a different way by this very helpful web page
How did I setup sync to WMP? See seperate post: “Setting-up Sync of WMP to Phone”

My setup
Windows Media Player 11 running on an XP PC
Palm Treo Pro running Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
Palm connects to PC using ActiveSync4.5

WMP11 – can’t end sync partnership?

I wanted to end the sync partnership between WMP and the storage card in my phone.
In WMP, to remove a device you are meant to click on the device in the navigation panel (that’s the panel on the left) and select “end sync partnership”. It advises (in several places) that to completely end the partnership you must do this when the device is unplugged.
BUT if you unplug the device the option to end sync partnership is greyed out!

Solution =
– Start with the device plugged in
– In Navigation Panel right-click the device
– Select “end Sync Partnership”
– Then a box comes up saying you may want to disconnect the device
– AT THIS POINT (and not before) disconnect the device
Now you can proceed.. and it works!

Why did I want to end the sync partnership? Because my music was duplicated on the storage card – see separate post on “WMP11 corrupted”

My setup
Windows Media Player 11 running on an XP PC
Palm Treo Pro running Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
Palm connects to PC using ActiveSync4.5

Windows Mobile ActiveSync error 86000107

This error seems to happen when you are synchronising one phone with two different PCs (eg one at home and one at work).
There are lots of entries on forums about it. It seems that WM6 didn’t have the problem but WM6.1 does.

Avoiding the problem, before sync with new phone?
I already had Outlook installed on two PCs and was syncing both of them with my old Palm. when I started syncing with my new Windows Mobile phone I got error 86000107. My best guess is that I could have avoided the error if, before I synchronsied the phone with the 2nd PC for the first time, I had deleted all the Outlook tasks, notes, calendar and contacts on the 2nd PC.

Solution: once the error occurred
I deleted all the Outlook tasks, notes, calendar and contacts on the 2nd PC (the PC that was giving the error, and then everything was ok.
Some more details …

1) (10 mins) with phone disconnected from PC, on phone delete partnership with PC
ie in ActiveSync -> Menu -> Options -> select the relevant PC ->Delete ->Yes
2) (1 min) Tell the PC that the partnership is cancelled
a. Connect phone to PC
b. On PC cancel setup wizard
c. Then remove cable
d. ActiveSync on PC now says “No partnership”
3) (10 mins) Just to be sure … reboot PC & soft reset on phone
4) (40 mins) Also just to be sure …. Take backup of pst file
In Outlook: File -> Import/Export -> Export to a file -> pst file -> select mailbox AND check box for subfolders (If don’t include the email folders will be quicker)
5) (10 mins) In Outlook delete all tasks, contacts, calendar & notes
a. Click on tasks -> Edit -> select All -> Edit -> Delete
b. Click on Calendar -> View -> Arrange by -> Current View -> Define Views -> select By Category -> Apply View (ie a view with type = table & filter = off) -> Edit -> Select All -> Edit -> Delete
c. Click on Contacts -> View -> Arrange by -> CurrentView -> Phone List -> Edit -> Select All -> Edit -> Delete
d. Click on Notes -> Edit -> Select All -> Delete
6) (2 hours?) Connect phone & sync
    For home PC:
a. Set-up wizard -> Next -> give PC a name eg “WorkDesktop”; DON’T check the box about sync with MS Exchange -> Next
b. Check: Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, PhatNotes
UNCHECK all others -> Next
c. Don’t check box about wireless -> Next -> Finish
d. Starts sync
    For work PC:
I originally didn’t sync with Exchange (so it sync’d with local copy of Outlook, but after some problems (calendar entries not syncing) I removed the partnership with my work PC, deleted Outlook data on the work PC and then set up to sync with exchange – follwoing process above
In 6)a. check the box about exchange. Key in server address eg
Otherwise as above

My setup
Palm Treo Pro running Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
Palm connects to PC using ActiveSync4.5
Both PCs are running Windows XP with service pack 3