This article is a slight detour on our exploration of Windows 8 and SkyDrive. Read more here.

Traditionally, data synchronisation took place on a closed network, where the master database would live on your laptop (music/calendar/contacts) or on a server (business databases), the clients would communicate with the master and the magic IT fairy dust would ensure the data would not get scrambled in the process.

The concept of synchronisation has not changed, but now it is more common to synchronise with ‘The Cloud’: iCloud, Google, SkyDrive to name a few.Consolidating your calendar and contacts data online is the most effective way to end the tedium and fiddliness of calendar and contact transfer between all your devices, and of course all your phones, tablets and laptops are always up to date.

Cloud Services
Cloud Services

One way of visualising data synchronisation is to imagine the data being in four groups or services: email, contacts, calendar and data (files and photos); each of your accounts will contain one or more of these groups. When adding an account to a device, you can choose which of the available data services to sync.

Traditional synchronisation
Traditional Synchronisation: messy!

 

The common method of adding all your accounts to all your devices and synchronising all data services through these registrations can be a little messy, and — depending on the device — does not always put all the information in one place.

 

An alternative method consolidates your data before it gets to your device, so not only is your information really in one place, the bandwidth needed to get the information onto your device is significantly reduced, both prolonging battery life and reducing the time to update.

Consolidated Synchronisation
Consolidated Synchronisation: easier to manage & lower bandwidth

In order to avoid duplicate email, contact and calendar entries, and benefit from the consolidation in the cloud, you must be careful which accounts you add to your device, and which services you set your device to synchronise.

TOP TIP
You will still need to add all the social media accounts to your devices you want to connect with — these do not just comprise email, contacts and calendars!

NOTE: Email accounts can also be consolidated in your online account Outlook.com, but if you are already managing your emails using the desktop version, you may choose not to do this.

In our next article we will show how easy it is to sync your data to SkyDrive.

All methods are accurate at the time of writing for the configuration tested: Office 2010 on Windows 7; Chrome  v27; iPad 1; Nokia Lumia 710.

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