Have you ever had a moment where you found yourself juggling two to three different devices, maybe trying to use your computer to check your email while trying to access your calendar on your phone while simultaneously trying to grab the picture you need from your camera, and thought to yourself that there had to be an easier way? Or maybe you got home, loaded up your personal computer, and realized at the last minute that you needed to look over a file from work, still locked up in your company’s hard drive. If you’ve had those moments, you’ve probably thought to yourself that it would be easier if there was a way to do it all at once, to sync your data across multiple devices. If you’re like me, you knew at some level that it was possible, but it always seemed like too much work to go out your way to get it done, and anyway, you wouldn’t even know where to start. Sounds familiar? Good, keep reading, because it turns out there is a way. This article talks about how to sync your data across multiple devices, and when you might decide that it’s not such a great idea after all.
One of the easiest way to sync your data across multiple devices is to utilize some kind of cloud-based service, like Dropbox. With these services, a copy of the shared folder is kept online, and as long as there’s an internet connection, any changes made to any file on any device will be updated to all of the others. Dropbox and services like it work great when working together in a team and needing to share files between users, but they also work great for personal use, such as having a folder shared between a home, office, and mobile devices for example, or accessing files on the go from any computer. If you’re not comfortable keeping your files online, there are also desktop applications that share files over a private network. Those tend to be a little more secure, and can also be something you can look into depending on your needs.
Using a Portable Device
If you can’t install new software on your PC for whatever reason, carrying around a portable device might be an option. Having a shared folder that you keep on your own personal USB drive would ensure that you always have the most updated version of the file on hand (as long as you don’t lose it, which is another story), but doesn’t really do much towards keeping your data synced or allowing others to access the data.
Web-based email, contacts and calendars
If it’s not files you want to synchronize, but more events and contacts, the easiest way to sync your data across multiple devices would be to turn to the internet again. There are a lot of apps online that allow you to update your calendar on one device and have it update automatically on all of your other devices, including your mobile phone, but be warned, your operating system may determine what service works well for you. For example, Google accounts mesh very well with Android devices, where a single Google account can keep search history, contacts, email, and calendars synced, but don’t work as well when faced with Apple programs.
During email account setup
If your company gives you an option between POP and IMAP for emails, IMAP is typically the best for accessing email across multiple machines. POP downloads emails directly to your computer, which tends to keep things localized, however, this can be worked around by selecting an option that tells the program to leave a copy of the email on the server, so that it can be retrieved from another device.
When would you not want to sync?
That tells you how to sync your data across multiple devices, now how about when that might not be the best idea? If you’re running a business, you should understand that allowing employees to sync files from their office to their home computers comes with some level of security risk. If you have sensitive data being synced from your office to the outside world, you lose some form of centralized control over it. Depending on the type of data being synced, this could be more significant than not, but if you can’t deal with whatever consequences might arise from a fired employee still having access to company files from their own personal computers, you shouldn’t be syncing.
From a personal standpoint, it might not always be feasible to keep your home life and your work life connected all the time. There are numerous studies that show that having some ability to keep work and home separate benefits your mental health in the long run, and sometimes keeping all of your data synced blurs that divide, but that’s a personal decision to make. Be aware of what you’re syncing and what your settings are (an alarm for every single meeting across all your devices might be overkill, for example) and decide based on all of those factors what you want to do.
Keeping your data synced across multiple devices can be an important tool to make sure that you stay connected to your work wherever you go, and to make sure you always have the files on hand that you need, even when you might not think that you need them. It’s definitely something to consider to improve productivity, but the downsides should be considered as well. At the end of the day, whether you choose to sync and what program you choose depends on your needs, but hopefully this article helped you come a little closer to making those choices.