Synchronising your data
Nov 27, 2007, 8:51 GMT
Washington - With computers at home, at work, at school, and on the road, how do you get all of your data in sync? That's the question vexing many folks these days.
If you have an important contact entered into your Outlook calendar at work but find yourself needing it at home, what can you do? The same goes for files, e-mail messages, and more. Read on for some tips on getting your data where you need it, when you need it.
Q: I have a large number of contacts entered into Microsoft Outlook at work. How do I export these so that I can see these same contacts in my Outlook address book at home?
A: Exporting your Outlook contacts is not as easy as it should be, but once you know the proper procedure, you can share your contacts with ease.
First, open the instance of Outlook that has the contacts you'd like to have available on your other computer. Open the File menu, and click Import and Export. The Import and Export wizard opens. Select 'Export to a file' from the list of available options, and click Next. From the next panel, select 'Comma separated values (Windows),' and click Next.
At this point you'll see a list of folders that exist in Outlook. Navigate to the Contacts folder, and select it. Click Next. Now you can choose a location on your hard drive to which you wish to save the contacts database. Remember this location. Once you've selected the location, click Next.
A final panel will provide a summary of the folders that are to be exported. You should see your Contacts folder listed there. Click Finish, and the export process will begin.
Now open Windows Explorer, and navigate to the folder containing the exported Outlook contacts. The file should be named 'contacts. CSV.' You can either e-mail that file to yourself or copy it to a removable storage device to take to your other computer. Once the file has been copied to the other computer, open Outlook on the destination machine. Open the File menu, and select Import and Export.
When the Import and Export wizard opens, select 'Import from another program or file' from the list of available options, and click Next. From the next panel, select 'Comma separated values (Windows),' and click Next.
Now navigate to the folder containing the 'contacts.CSV' file that you exported, select the file, and click Next. On the next panel, select your Contacts folder as the destination, and click Next. The final panel shows you a summary of the action to be performed. Click Finish, and your contacts from work will be imported. When the process is done, you can click Contacts in Outlook and see all of your contacts there.
Q: We just upgraded to Office 2007 at home, but at work I still use Office 2003. The files between the two versions do not seem to be compatible. Am I doing something wrong?
A: No, you're not. Office 2007 uses a new XML-based file format for all applications, and in order to retain backward compatibility with Office 2003, you can choose one of a couple options.
First, open your copy of Word 2007 on your home machine. Click the Office button, located in the upper left-hand corner of the title bar, and then click the Word Options button at the bottom of the Office menu.
In the resulting Word Options box, select Save from the left-hand panel, and from the 'Save files in this format' drop-down dialog box, select the 'Word 97-2003 Document' option, and click OK. Repeat this procedure in each Office 2007 application for which you would like the files to be compatible with Office 2003.
Your other option is to download Microsoft's Office Compatibility pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 file formats. The compatibility pack is available to Office XP and Office 2003 users. Once installed, the pack will enable those older versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to open files from Office 2007.
Q: I have a computer at home, and I use one at school, too. I've been using a USB stick to transfer my files from home to school, but sometimes I forget the stick. Since both computers are hooked to the Internet, can I store my files online so that they're accessible from anywhere?
A: Today you have several options for storing your files online - including using e-mail to send the latest copy of your files back and forth - but perhaps the most effective today lies with the relatively new, free Google Apps service.
With a Google Apps account, you can complete your school assignments in Google's Docs program - which includes a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation application - and access your work from any computer connected to the Internet and equipped with a Web browser.
One of the nicest features of Google Apps is that all of your files are stored online, so there's no concern about making sure you have the latest copy on your USB stick. You can work on a report from home, for instance, and finish it from school.
Google Apps also makes it easy for you to publish your work on the Internet, which can be useful for sharing your work with others. And yes, you can easily print out your school work with any printer connected to the computer that you're working on at the time. Learning to use Google Apps is simple; anyone with experience using a typical word processor will be up to speed in no time.
Get started with Google Apps by visiting https://www.google.com/a.
Q: What's the best way to synchronize my digital photographs between two computers?
A: There's no one best way, but essentially what you're looking for is an easy-to-use file synchronization program. There are many, many on the market - both freeware and commercial.
One of the nicest is Super Flexible File Synchronizer, available in a trial version (http://www.superflexible.com). This program makes it easy to set up synchronization jobs and then to automate them so that they run periodically without your intervention.
If you're using Vista, Microsoft has created a free tool called SyncToy that makes keeping two folders in sync a few-click procedure. Most synchronization tools work the same way. You choose a 'left' side folder and 'right' side folder, and then you specify which is the source and which is the destination. When the synchronization tool runs, the destination folder is updated with any changes made to the files in the source folder.
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