How NOT to set-up MobileMe for syncing calendars / contacts

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ConnectedImage: Salvatore Vuono /

I pride myself on being a good techie. I tend to thoroughly research my options before making an decisions and don’t often rush into things. (Sam might disagree with me there!) This morning I made my first rushed / gut decision in ages. I deliberated for just a few short minutes before deciding to giving Apple’s MobileMe platform a go since they currently offer a 60 day free trial.

MobileMe allows you to sync contacts, calendars, mail and bookmarks. After I’d signed up for my account and made a note of when the trial would end, I looked at the configuration options. Step one was to install the MobileMe client on my home PC. Well, I’m not at home, so I decided to skip this step. Step two is to set-up the relevant configuration on my iPhone. Simple to do I felt, so I ran through the settings.

When you enable sync for contacts and/or calendars a little prompt appears on your iPhone screen not dis-similar to this:

MobileMe Merge prompt

My personal interpretation of the word merge is: compare data in location 1 with location 2. If data in location 1 is not present in location 2, copy that data from location 1 to location 2 (and vice versa).

Apple’s interpretation of the word merge is slightly different. The way MobileMe works when enabling this functionality is as follows: Delete all existing data from the iPhone’s contacts / calendar and replace with whatever is on the users data store at MobileMe.

I discovered this backward process was their intended methodology when I came out of MobileMe and found both my calendar and contacts screens completely empty. A conversation (via Apple support chat) confirmed my suspicions. The data isn’t lost completely, I just can’t get it back until I get home and either sync my iPhone with iTunes, or install and configure the MobileMe PC app and enable syncing.

Given my raw experience this morning, I’m a little scared about my data when I come to set things up later. Needless to say, I’ll be taking a PC backup right before I set anything up. I should have read the instructions in very clear detail before I proceeded, but I do also feel misled by Apple’s usage of the word, “merge”. I’ve told them as such via their feedback mechanism and I hope that this information will stop others from doing the same as me since it’s going to be frustrating not having any contacts or calendar for the remainder of the day! I’d have been angry had I not been syncing with Outlook and got a backup!

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