For mobile devices, what is synchronization?
Synchronization occurs when a mobile device communicates with applications on a personal computer or a server. This is often referred to simply as a "sync" or a "docking". Research in Motion BlackBerry technicians call it "cradling" when it applies to BlackBerry devices.
Note: In Outlook 2003 or earlier, or with a connection to Indiana University via an outside Internet service provider (ISP) with handheld synchronization software, you must establish a VPN connection before connecting to your Exchange mailbox. See The basics of VPN at IU and At IU, using an outside ISP, why can't I connect to my Exchange account with Outlook or BlackBerry Desktop Manager?
Mobile devices must have some way of loading applications, updates, and changes to their operating systems or settings. Even devices capable of wireless networking must have some way of loading software, if only to load what is needed to create the wireless connection in the first place. You can do this by synchronizing the device's operating system and applications with either a desktop management program or individual applications on a personal computer.
Most mobile devices use a cable, docking unit, or cradle to communicate with a computer, usually through a USB port. Applications on the device can transfer and receive data from applications on the computer so that both the computer and the device have the same information. For example, Date Book software on a Palm device can communicate and exchange appointments with a Microsoft Outlook Calendar on a Windows computer.
Some devices can synchronize over the Internet or wireless networks. Wireless sync eliminates the need for the device to be physically connected to the computer, but it is usually slower than a direct physical connection.
If data on a mobile device is different from the data on a computer, the computer can overwrite the data on the device, the device can overwrite data on the computer, or the synchronization management application can warn you when there is a difference between the two so you can decide how to proceed.
Last modified on August 27, 2012.