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How do I sync with Windows 7?

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Joined: 15 Oct 2009
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:35 pm    Post subject: How do I sync with Windows 7? Reply with quote

When I try to instal Activesync in Windows 7, it says it already has that feature in Windows Mobile Device Center. So I downloaded and installed Mobile Device Center, but it keeps having errors when I try to sync with my Casio E-200.

How do I set it up? Do I need to install an update on the Casio? How would I do that if I can't sync with it? Is mobile device center even compatible with Pocket PC 2002?
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Joined: 01 Sep 2000
Posts: 2346
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada

PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Activesync has never worked correctly for me. I never had an E-200, but have used, and tried Activesync/Outlook syncing with, a Casio E-115 and EG-800, two models of iPAQ, a Dell X5, two Toshiba E800s, O2 XDA, HTC Touch Elfin, and an HTC Kaiser. Sometimes I was able to get contacts to sync once, and I think in one early case (2001 with the EG-800) through a few connections. But in every case there were almost immediately duplicates, corrupted entries, lost entries, and then shortly after a complete loss of data forcing a restore from backups on the PPCs. I gave up numerous times in anger but kept coming back to it as otherwise I was left to trusting my PPC backups (Sprite, Resco, and others, eventually finding PIMBackup to be the most reliable - and also the only freeware among them), which didn't inspire a lot of confidence.

A couple of weeks ago I gave up on Windows Mobile, having seen it through all those devices and OS versions since 2000. I bought a Samsung Infuse. I'd meant to move to Android a bit earlier but the prospect of trying to move my 930 or so contacts to a new platform was scary. Shouldn't have been, but then again I'm glad to have waited for such a marvelous piece of hardware as the Infuse. Incredible phone in every way. Input was the biggest issue for me, but yesterday I picked up an HP Bluetooth keyboard made for their now-defunct TouchPad and it works very nicely with the phone, thanks to a couple of freewares...

Anyway, to my point. Moving contacts was not easy, but it wasn't too painful either, at least compared to all the hours I spent fighting with Activesync over the years. Probably spent over 100 hours with that piece of garbage software as I tried every single version Microsoft ever released, along with every tip and trick published online, including Chris' great page here. In case you decide to either upgrade to an Android device or just to have an alternate location for accessing your contacts, here is what I did to get my 930 contacts onto the Android phone:

- Used PIMBackup - http://www.dotfred.net/ - to backup my contacts in uncompressed format; this is an option in the preferences of that application on WM devices.

- Changed the file extension from PIMBackup's native name to .ZIP and unzipped the contained files.

- Uploaded the Contacts.CSV file to Google Contacts.

- Done.

Of course it wasn't quite that simple. Problem was that a number of my contacts had text in the Notes field, and GMail's Contacts app can't handle those, at least not yet. Came out as Unicode gibberish. So I deleted all those contacts and then opened the CSV file in a spreadsheet editor, in my case Softmaker's Planmaker program. I found the Notes field in one column and deleted that column, choosing to move the following columns left to fill in. Saved that as a CSV file again and then uploaded that to Gmail Contacts. Problem solved, no more nonsense fields displayed, and all the rest of my data intact.

To preserve any important notes out of my contacts during this migration was the most labour-intensive aspect. I had to look through my contacts on the phone and think about each one for a moment, checking those which I thought might have useful notes in them and copying that out into a TXT file on the Kaiser where they were worth saving. Turned out only a handful of my contacts' notes were really important to me. In a case where someone had a lot of important notes added to contacts this could be very cumbersome...

Anyway, next step was to turn on contacts sync on the phone. Two minutes later over 4G my contacts list was displayed on the phone. I've used it for 2 weeks and found not a single problem. If I make a change on the phone, it appears on Gmail within a minute. Make a change on Gmail and it appears within a minute on the phone. Automatic and painless. Like Activesync SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALL ALONG!

I know this isn't directly helpful for your Activesync problem with Windows 7. I use Windows 7 myself on our home PCs, the Ultimate N version, and very much like it. But yeah, the Mobile Device Center doesn't work at all for me either, so useless trying to maintain contacts on the PC. I have left Windows Mobile behind, just as Microsoft left me behind when they abandoned Windows Mobile in favour of their ridiculous Windows Phone 7 nonsense. Android is very enjoyable to use. Rooting the phone was the hardest part, and that took just a few hours of research on my first day of ownership before finding the right ROM on XDA-developers; a rooted Rogers ROM matching my own except for superuser permissions being added. I've since been able to tweak it to my hearts' content and have greatly enjoyed the flexibility and speed of this platform and device. The 'market' is useful, but so is software from non-market developers, and the difference in terms of installation is a simple checkbox option in settings. No registry to mess with like WM. No complex driver conflicts. Heck, no cables for syncing! It just works.

I highly recommend Android to anyone still using old WM devices and hesitating to migrate. It's not nearly as painful a transition as I'd thought it would be, and the software library available is easily as good as what I had collected over the years for WM. I've got a good FTP client, a powerful file explorer, great media players, streaming radio player, full office suite, Firefox (abandoned for WM ages ago) and Firefox Beta running alongside the already quite good native browser, decent native email (though I'm hoping we can port nPOPuk over to Android), Skype Video chat (already used it twice for family visits with my daughter who's at school in Central America and it was GREAT), and on and on. Windows Mobile just isn't this good in either performance or versatility.

I appreciate the desire to stick with old devices. The E-200 looked like a sweet machine; I just couldn't find one at the time or I'd have used one as well. I still have the HTC Touch Elfin as a tiny backup phone - it works great and popping in the SIM I can have it running in a couple of minutes should my Samsung have a problem. I keep the contacts updated there manually. I'll sell the Kaiser, as it's a bit fat for my pocket anyway. Good luck with whichever path you choose.

One more thing, which is of potential direct use for you. Make an uncompressed PIMBackup file. Unzip it and get the contacts file. You can import a VCF into the native WAB program, Windows Address Book. It's still there in Windows 7. Problem is, you have to import the contacts one at a time. If you have more than a handful of contacts this can mean a LOT of clicking. I gave it a try, just to see what would happen, thinking a full contacts version in WAB would be a useful backup in case GMail broke. But after a couple of dozen contacts being imported one at a time I gave up and deleted that mess. It would have taken a couple of hours to click through importation of 930 individual contacts. I'll stick with Titanium Backup on the Samsung, which seems to be very reliable, alongside the native Contacts application's Export To Card function, which puts a full backup in VCF format onto a microSD card in a few seconds. Simpler than PIMBackup and wicked-fast. I just make a fresh export file every time I significantly modify an entry or add a contact, just in case Google messes up in the 'cloud.'

Yup, it's time to move on. It's been fun with Windows Mobile. I had an interesting decade getting to know all the complex solutions to the many problems of advanced use of those devices and OS versions. I even got a useless MVP award in 2009, quite a mysterious thing really, which as it turned out gave me precisely zero access to the ears of the WM development team. I'm a bit bitter about that, so part of my enjoyment of Android's ease of use comes from contrasting it with my many headaches as a WM 'power user.' Not a wasted decade... but I'm glad it's over and I can move on with something much more satisfying in daily use.
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