Syncing Your Pocket PC with Your Desktop

By Brian Underdahl

If your Pocket PC and your desktop PC are going to be partners, they need to be able to share your data. You wouldn’t want to have to retype everything just because you wanted to use it on both computers. Let’s see how you share information between these systems.

Using ActiveSync

ActiveSync creates a partnership between your Pocket PC and your desktop PC.

  • Pocket PCs lack one of the important pieces of hardware that you find on every modern desktop PC — a hard drive. This is an important difference for reasons you may not realize. In terms of sharing data, the lack of a hard drive is important because your Pocket PC stores data differently than your desktop PC does. In fact, your Pocket PC stores much information in a format that your desktop PC simply cannot use.
  • Because of the differences between the ways your Pocket PC and your desktop PC store information, you can’t just copy most files between the two systems. Rather, the files must be converted from one format to the other as they are transferred. Likewise, they must be converted in the other direction if you transfer them back.
  • ActiveSync automatically handles the format conversions as it transfers files, which is one reason why it can take a few minutes to move files between your Pocket PC and your desktop PC.
  • Remember that ActiveSync can convert only data files. You can’t convert your desktop PC programs to run on your Pocket PC (or the other way around, for that matter).

Setting up partnerships

You use a program called ActiveSync to synchronize the information between your Pocket PC and your desktop PC. ActiveSync synchronizes information by creating a partnership between your Pocket PC and your desktop PC. A partnership has several characteristics:

  • Whenever your Pocket PC and desktop PC are synchronized, changes to files you’ve specified are updated in both directions. This simply means that changes on your desktop PC appear on your Pocket PC, and changes on your Pocket PC also appear on your desktop PC.
  • You can choose the types of items that each partnership synchronizes. If you set up partnerships between your Pocket PC and two different desktop PCs, you synchronize the same set of files with each desktop PC.

    Note: If you set up partnerships between your Pocket PC and two different desktop PCs, you can specify only one of those partnerships for sharing e-mail messages.

  • In most cases, the partnership specifies that the synchronization happens automatically whenever the Pocket PC and desktop PC connect, but you can control exactly how each partnership synchronizes its files.
  • Your desktop PC can have partnerships with more than one Pocket PC, but the default settings share the same set of files between your desktop PC and all the Pocket PCs. You can change this by creating unique Pocket PC identities.

Creating basic partnerships

Creating a basic partnership is one of those tasks that sounds a lot harder than it really is. All you have to do is insert a CD-ROM, click a few buttons, and you’re done. Here’s the rundown:

1. Before you connect your Pocket PC to your desktop PC, get out the Pocket PC Companion CD-ROM that came with your Pocket PC and insert it into your desktop PC’s CD-ROM drive.

2. If the setup program doesn’t start automatically, click the Start button on your desktop PC and choose Run.

In the Open text box, enter x:setup.exe (where x is the drive letter for your CD-ROM drive). Click OK to run the setup program.

3. Click the Next button that appears on the first screen.

4. Click Start Here.

5. Select Install Outlook 2002 and then ActiveSync 3.5.

6. Connect your Pocket PC to your desktop PC.

In most cases, you do this by turning on the Pocket PC and popping it into the cradle (after you’ve plugged in the cables, of course).

7. When the setup program asks, tell it you want to establish a partnership between your Pocket PC and your desktop PC.

When you get to choose the number of desktop PCs in the partnership, choose two rather than one. There’s no rule that says you have to create that second partnership, but you may as well leave the door open so that you can create it later if you want to.

8. Keep on clicking the buttons until the setup program concludes.

Basically, you just say OK to everything that remains to accept the default installation options.