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How best to synchronize Desktop and Laptop

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  • How best to synchronize Desktop and Laptop

    When I travel, I want to have MS Outlook with GTD add-in material exactly the same on my Vaio laptop as it's set up on my Dell at home. I also want my iPAQ to have the same Tasks and Appointments info, but I don't use the iPAQ for e-mail.

    I experimented with Migo but couldn't seem to make it work--some of the e-mail folders and contents did not make it to the computer I was transferring data to. I have in the past used a lengthy but reliable process someone on this forum passed along, in which I export and import my data to a New Profile each time. It involves reentering my POP3 account information each time, which is sort of a pain.

    I'm leaving in a week for another trip and have promised myself I am going to find a foolproof, easy way to move my GTD system from home to travel mode. (Next Action: post a query on the GTD forum..)

    Any help would be appreciated.
    Len Edgerly, Denver

  • #2
    I've posted here two or three times regarding the same issue; and tried the Migo solution but found it too cumbersome. Fine for what it's intended to do (make any host computer anywhere work and act like your own computer) but not suitable routinely synchronizing my outlook files on two different computers. Why can't one just drag and drop outlook files from one computer to another, just like all the other files we use? It turns out that you can, but Microsoft hides the Outlook files in hidden folders inside hidden folders inside hidden folders. You need to find where Outlook is storing your Outlook data-set, and to do that you must first configure Windows to show the hidden folders. Go to control panel, folder options, view - and check the show hidden folders radio button. The hidden folders will then show up, distinguishable by lighter shading than the others.

    Next, find your Outlook data file. It's probably in one of the folders in the Documents and Settings folders. Which one depends on how you configured the folders initially. You're looking for a folder called Local Settings. There may be Local Settings folders in more than one of the user folders, so you may have to try more than one. Look for an Application Data folder in the Local Settings folder. Inside the Application Data folder (assuming you selected the correct Local Settings folder) you will find a Microsoft folder, and inside that will be an Outlook folder. Your Outlook database will be in this folder. I copy this file to a folder on a thumb drive by dragging-and-dropping, then I can plug the thumb drive into the other computer and drag-and-drop it into the Outloook folder in the Microsoft folder in the Application Data folder in the Local Settings folder.... again, all hidden folders which must be unhidden. Then, both computers have exactly the same data-set, and it's not nearly as complicated as it sounds. You then have three copies of your Outlook data. One on your desktop computer, one on your laptop, and one on the thumb drive. As you modify one on either your desktop or laptop, just copy it back to the thumb drive and then again to the other computer. Not much more difficult than copy spreadsheet or word processing files back and forth. I imagine you could use something like SmartSync Pro to do this automatically, but I haven't tried it yet.

    Adding a PDA to the mix makes things a bit more complicated. I have a Palm which I synchronize with my desktop computer, since I use the desktop daily. In your case, it would probably make more sense to synchronize the PDA with the laptop, and use a thumb drive to transfer the Outlook data-set back and forth between the laptop and desktop. Just keep track of which data-set the PDA was last synchronized with so you don't end up with three versions.


    • #3
      Something to add is that you can (and I would recommend you do) move your Outlook data files - put them somewhere with a sensible name, say 'Outlook data' in your Documents folder. There are a few steps to this, so if you want guidance, just drop me a personal message, and I will talk you through it. Then you can use the Microsoft SyncToy to synchronise the files with your thumb-drive. Works well for me in using my MyLifeOrganized data file on two computers every day.


      • #4

        Dragging the Outlook data files worked much better than my old procedure of creating a new, empty profile. I had to do some horsing around to get Outlook on the laptop to open the right file, but I figured that out. I have everything ready for my trip tomorrow night--thanks for taking the time to write such a long, clear message, smithdoug.


        • #5
          HOW do I do this?

          I'd like to try your method, BUT I'm apparently not as tech savvy as I should be. What exactly is a "thumbdrive"?



          • #6

            Originally posted by rachel134
            What exactly is a "thumbdrive"?
            It is a 21st century removable computer storage media (USB flash drive).

            See also

            Description of Migo drive mentioned in one of the posts can be found here:


            • #7
              re moving Outlook data files

              I sent LenEdgerly a long private message about how to do this, but I guess it might be useful to others, so here are the steps if you want to move your Outlook data files:

              1) Open Outlook, click 'Tools', 'Email Accounts', then select 'View or change existing email accounts' and click 'Next', which brings you to the 'E-mail Accounts' dialog
              2) Click on 'New Outlook Data File...', select 'Office Outlook Personal Folders File' and select 'OK'
              3) Find the new location for your Data file - wherever you want, as long as it makes more sense to you than the default! And give the new file a sensible title, also. Then click 'OK'
              4) Now you have an option to change the internal name of the storage folder - i.e. how it appears in Outlook itself - and to specify the level of encryption: I would just select the default here, 'Compressible Encryption', and then click 'OK'
              5) Now you're back to the 'E-mail Accounts' dialogue: pull down the 'Deliver new email to the following location:' list and select the new account (which will be identified by what I called the internal name, as specified in step 4). This step ensure that new messages are delivered to the new account. Now click 'Finish', and you return to Outlook.
              6) Now you simply need to drag and drop your messages from their current position in the default storage folder into your new storage folder, which will appear in the folder list under the internal name given in step 4. When you have successfully moved everything you need to move, right-click on your old storage file in the folder list and select 'Close [whatever its title is]'

              Hope that's helpful to others...


              • #8
                Originally posted by LenEdgerly
                When I travel, I want to have MS Outlook with GTD add-in material exactly the same on my Vaio laptop as it's set up on my Dell at home. I also want my iPAQ to have the same Tasks and Appointments info, but I don't use the iPAQ for e-mail.
                If you have Outlook already set-up on both machines, you could do the following:

                1) Synchronize Home computer with iPAQ --> iPAQ is synchronized
                2) Synchronize iPAQ with laptop --> laptop Outlook is synchronized as well

                Reverse procedure for when you arrive home and want to synchronize back to home pc. The whole procedure shouldn't take more than 5mins.



                • #9
                  iPAQ synch method

                  This seems like a wonderfully simple method, which has the benefit of keeping my iPAQ synchronized, but I've had trouble synching the iPAQ with the two machines. Just now, returning from a trip, when I hooked the iPAQ up through ActiveSync, it forced me to replace everything on the iPAQ with what was on the desktop. This was okay, since I had used the copy-data-file method to bring everything from my trip over to the desktop. But there seems to be a problem with the partnerships I have set up on the two computers with the iPAQ.


                  • #10

                    For synchronizing any number of computers (work, home, laptops, whatever) check out It does it in the background in a p2p fashion, so your data isn't stored on the server anywhere. You can even make all of your data accessible from anywhere by making your desktop machine a web server. It's a really cool thang.


                    • #11
                      I tried BeInSync and FolderShare, but found them both lacking.

                      I found a really neat program called SyncBackSE which has really been working great for me. Check it out.

                      Good luck.


                      • #12
                        Outlook synchronization between laptop and desktop

                        Look at to synchronize Outlook between laptop and desktop


                        • #13

                 will sync all/any folders you select in the background. It's super simple!


                          • #14
                            Misssing a file for synching IPAQ and laptop

                            I have a pocket pc IPAQ and it has been synching perfectly with my laptop but yesterday and today I am told that I am missing MFC80.DLL and the title of this small window is WCESMgr.exe and I can't find these anywhere or don't know how to access or what file to reinstall or how to do that. Please help


                            • #15
                              I'm not sure how add-ins would be effected but I asked a similar question on computerhope forum
                              and got this reply -
                              "I think you could be looking down the barrel at "File Synchronization" on which I have minimal experience. There's a good beginners article here [was a link] and lots more on the WWW."

                              Hope this helps -JC