updated 03:35 pm EDT, Wed September 24, 2008
Nearly everyone has important data stored on their computer, but with cloud computing becoming popular, many people now store data on websites that allow access to their information from multiple devices. The biggest problem occurs when you want to store and edit your data on both your computer and a website like Google. Since keeping multiple copies of data organized can be nearly impossible, you'll be better off using a special synchronization program like Spanning Sync.
Unlike most apps that appear in the Applications folder or the Dock, this program buries itself in the System Preferences window and as a menulet on the menu bar. Clicking this menulet gives you one-click access to its settings, allowing you to define your Google account.
Once the program knows which account to synchronize, the second step is to define how to synchronize your data with Google. You can do it manually, which forces you to click on a Sync Now button, or according to an automatic schedule to do so, such as every 10 minutes or every hour.
After setting up an initial synchronizing schedule, the next step is to define which iCal calendars you want to synchronize, Home or Work (or both). If you've already set up appointments through Google Apps, the program will transfer data from Google into iCal.
While synchronizing calendar appointments works between iCal and Google Apps, any iCal alarms won't be transferred to Google Apps. Instead, Google Apps accepts the default reminder settings, so instead of popping up a dialog to notify you, you can have an e-mail sent to you as a reminder. While not as simple as alarms, such e-mail reminders still allow you to retain your alarm settings in a different form.
Another possible minor problem with synchronizing your contact information from Address Book to Google Apps is the way both programs store data. Google Apps stores names in a single field while Address Book breaks a name into three parts (first, middle, and last name). Depending on how you want that data to appear, you'll have a choice for which format to use.
Some other features include the ability to erase all data from Google Apps and replace it with your Mac data. Another feature is a log, which tracks the exact date and time you synchronized data. Unique to this app is a special Start Over button, which mimics uninstalling and reinstalling the program. That way if it starts acting flaky, you can reset the entire program and (hopefully) solve the problem without physically uninstalling and reinstalling the software all over again.
If you want effortless synchronization between your Mac and Google, Spanning Sync is an easy program to use and rely on. Depending on your needs, you can purchase Spanning Sync for a one-time fee of $65, or pay a yearly $25 subscription where annual renewals only cost $15 for each additional year.