Iphone: to sync or not to sync?



To Sync, or not to Sync, that is the Question

This article dedicated to Kelley

Iphone syncs with PC's (and Macs) are functions that will usually end up in failure.   I have examined several setups wherein user locally sync their iphones to their PC's (via usb cable, or local sync) and have found that iTunes makes an overwhelming amount of backups which will eventually stifle subsequent syncs and give the appearance that it's a general fail.

Many users cut the cable too soon.  I have witnessed iphone syncs that take 8 hours, due to extreme amounts of information to be synced.  8 gigs is still 8 gigs, even on a 400 megabit USB 2 bus it's not an instantaneous process.  Users think there's a problem with the sync and they abruptly end the sync, through a variety of ways, that can cause data corruption.  Indirectly users are contributing to their own problems.

Iphones are not PC (or Mac) laptops.  They have much lower processing power in order to maximize battery life and to keep the unit aesthetic - that is slim and trim.   Some have compared the A4/A5 processor to an Intel Atom Processor.  If you tried one of these Atom based Netbook processors, you may find these netbooks lackluster, or maybe even terrible multi-tasking processors.

Data corruption, failed syncs (google "other data" problems with iphone syncs), all contribute to a less than tranquil iphone existence.

The problem with this is most customers take their PC's to the Genius bar at the Apple Store, and while these guys are pretty sharp with Macs, (they may even try to convince you to switch to a Mac, especially if you have a Windows XP laptop), they're not very good with PC's.  Taking a Mac like troubleshooting approach to a PC rarely works - it takes a solid foundation of understanding to troubleshoot a Windows PC with this kind of issue.  A thorough understanding of Sysinternal's Process Monitor helps.

The average cost to repair an issue like this is significant, especially if taking to someone less PC savvy, and if there are budgetary constraints it may make considering a hosted Exchange Service a lot more attractive.

Exchange hosting costs a bit of money, so I'd only recommend this if you are a business owner or business user.  Home users, no problem, just uninstall itunes, get rid of your iphone data backups, and all folders relative to your iphone, or even performing a sync on another computer with a fresh install of ITunes.  Doing the cleanup can be daunting and advanced. Yes, and even reinstalling windows is an option, but you will have data loss if you don't backup.  Perhaps creating a new profile will help, but you're faced with migrating all your profile information.  Wow, that over the air sync is looking better.

Alternatives to Exchange hosting, such as Google Calendar and Contact sync, Plaxo Premium, and icloud are not without their own set of issues.  Many are dissatisfied with icloud because contacts and calendar appointments are stored in a separate "icloud" folder.

Apple iCloud, Microsoft Outlook, and the Perils of Incompatibility
Article Link

While Google is free, it is technically "free" however you're paying for their service by allowing them to vacuum sweep your personal and business information.  When things go wrong, and they will, there is nobody to call.

Plaxo - seemingly an indifferent support staff, as reported by some users, even for their paid premium product.

Plaxo as a Service is broken
Article Link

Exchange is not without their own sets of problems, but since sync is occurring wirelessly you don't need to do a physical sync.  While you can, Itunes excludes Contacts, Calendar, Email, and notes, so a local sync is simplfied and faster.

Appriver reports with their Hosted Exchange service, the maximum number of recommended emails in most folders is 5,000 in Inbox, Sent Items, and related for Exchange 2003, 20,000 items in Deleted Items, Inbox, Sent Items and 50,000 for user created folders in Exchange 2007.
Article Link

On average, these Exchange host providers charge about $15 per month, per user, some offer annual discounts if you pay up front for a year.  Compared to getting a hugely expensive Service bill vs. 12 months of exchange Hosting ($180) it seems to make little sense (or cents) in trying to economize and bringing in the heavy IT hitters to clean up your iphone sync setup when it inevidibly melts down.

Those of you who believe you will be well served by dumping your PC in favor of a Mac should google 'iphone sync mac problems.'

My Iphone won't sync with ITunes on my Mac
https://getsatisfaction.com/apple/topics/my_iphone_wont_sync_to_itunes


Another reason to simplify your sync life

If you deducted your iphone as a business expense, in general terms (talk to your CPA) you can only deduct what part of it is used in business.  Syncing a large music collection, videos, and games which is not business related doesn't qualify.  Consider buying a second device, such as an iPod Touch, for your personal use.  This will offset the local sync duties, and if the business owner uses an Exchange hosted service, they may rarely have the need to perform a local sync.


Good Grief, another way to simplify your sync life?

A small but slowly growing number of PCNS customers do not use their iphone for email, and it's never seen a sync whatsoever.  They slowly build their contacts the old fashioned way, by hand, as they arise and sync problems are a non-occurrence, because it's a non-event. Instead they rely on a laptop or ipad - the ipad has a much larger screen, they'll often tether their ipad from their iphone.  Mainly because the nature of their business is so critical, that iphone downtime is not an option.  Obviously this is not a solution for everyone.









Home Page:


Locations of visitors to this page