Let’s Talk File Synchronization

by Reads (7,088)

About once a week, a post something like this appears in the Brighthand forums: “Is there an easy way to keep a folder on my computer automatically synchronized with a folder on a memory card in my handheld?”

Amazingly, the answer to this question is, in most cases, “No.”

While there are some exceptions, there simply isn’t a way for large numbers of people to perform this relatively simple task.

Developers, where are you?

A Simple Request

The application I’m looking for shouldn’t be too complicated. I just want to have a folder on my PC that is always an exact duplicate of one that’s on my handheld’s or smartphone’s removable memory card.

Whenever a file is added to or removed from this folder on my PC, the next time I ActiveSync/HotSync, I want this change to be reflected on the mobile device.

And any changes to the folder on my handheld or smartphone should be reflected on the PC.

About the most complicated part of this will be handling files that are modified.  If, for example, I make changes to a Word document on my PC, I’m almost certainly going to want those same changes made to the version on my mobile device. So there will need to be a way to determine which file gets overwritten.

I’d suggest the application give the user a couple of configuration options: either have the newer version automatically overwrite the older one or ask the user which one to keep every time.

For Business and Pleasure

I can see multiple uses for the application, both work-related and not.

Like most people, I keep a folder of documents related to my job on my computer. This has both documents I’m currently working on and others I use for reference. It would be great if every time I left my desk I knew I had a copy of these with me, without having to worry about whether I had the most recent version or not.

Also, I frequently listen to podcasts on my smartphone. I’d really like it if the process of adding new ones and removing old ones was as simple as moving files in and out of a folder on my PC.

A Standard Feature

I’d be satisfied if some third-party developers created Palm OS and Windows Mobile versions of this file synchronization application, but I really think it’s something that should be a standard feature in ActiveSync and HotSync.

Microsoft is halfway there, as ActiveSync already does what I want… but only with folders in the mobile device’s internal memory. This is nice, but doesn’t work so well when I want to keep a few hundred gigabytes of podcasts synchronized.

And Palm, Inc. is also partially there. The LifeDrive offers exactly what I want, but this company’s other devices don’t.

But I’ll be grateful to whoever brings this feature to  my favorite mobile device, and I’m sure a great many other people would be, too.




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