Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tools You Can Use - Google Calendar Sync

The other day I was getting frustrated that my company phone wasn't syncing my Exchange calendar reliably. I'd tried deleting my profile and re-adding it, doing a hard reboot of the phone (now that's a phrase I never would have dreamed of using even 10 years ago), and several other troubleshooting steps. All to no avail. Being an android-base device, it was naturally having no problems whatsoever keeping up with my Google calendar.

So I set off on a search to find something that might let me sync my Exchange calendar to my Google calendar.

Well, guess what? Google themselves created just such a tool: Google Calendar Sync

It installs on the same PC where Outlook is running. You enter your Google credentials, set the sync frequency, and get out of the way. It works wonderfully. You do need to decide the best refresh frequency for you. Also, I highly recommend going into your Exchange calendar, putting it into List mode, and deleting all of those OLD appointments from years past. It makes the sync go much faster. Personally, I had almost 3,000 calendar events it was trying to sync. Once I pared it down to recurring meetings and just those from this calendar year, that dropped to under 300. There was a HUGE improvement in sync speed at that point.

Now, on to the one primary complaint I have so far about the tool. It's obviously registering itself as an add-on or helper inside your Outlook client. First, I had to close Outlook before it would install. Second, it never asked me for my Outlook/Exchange profile information. It's bootstrapping that, apparently. Given that it's hooking into Outlook, I'm disappointed that it's not event-driven. If I add/modify/delete something from my calendar, why can't it automatically sync that item instead of re-syncing my WHOLE calendar on a schedule? To give Google the benefit of the doubt, it's most likely a limitation inside the Outlook object model, but it's frustrating nonetheless.

The one other minor complaint I have is that, because it's a client-side tool, obviously your computer has to be on and running for the sync to work. The only time this poses an issue is after hours when I've suspended my laptop. If I accept a meeting request on my phone or through our web client, it won't show up on my Google calendar until the next time I have my computer up and running so the sync can run.

Given those two limitations of the tool, it's been quite the nice little find. Now, I have access to my Exchange calendar anywhere I have access to my Google calendar, not just from my smart phone or from our OWA portal.

If you also happen to be using Exchange/Outlook and have a Google account, I can highly recommend it.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks!

    erich martell