One of the largest draws of using Microsoft Exchange with multiple PCs running Outlook is the excellent synchronization support. You don’t just get e-mail synched across all of your devices, you get Contacts, Tasks, and Notes. A hosted Exchange plan could run you anywhere from a a bucks a month to over $100 a year… so is there a less expensive alternative?Apparently there is, if you’re willing to put up with what I think are two potentially huge drawbacks, but we’ll get to that later. OsaSync from Viata costs a one-time fee of $59.95, so there’s no recurring costs. It takes the Exchange Server out of the equation by using a software solution to share and synchronize data between two or more Outlook .pst files. The .pst file is essentially a datastore for all of the Outlook data in your local client account.
Using this method, OsaSync allows you to share items of your choice, like contacts or tasks, with multiple PCs running Outlook or you can simply sync the whole lot of info, just like the end result of Microsoft Exchange. Once your PC is on your network, OsaSync will make the .pst file look just like it does on all other networked PCs. The company indicates that through FTP, you can even sync remotely, which is key.As for the downsides? Well, without a true server in the mix, there’s no automatic backup involved like you have with Exchange. You can certainly backup data on your own, but Exchange provides that peace of mind of not having to worry about it. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly for mobile folks: since there’s no server involved, you have to manage which PCs are powered on. If I have PC A and PC B, for example, but they’re not powered on at the same time, they won’t be in sync until both of them are running.Regardless of these issues, OsaSync could be worth a look for folks wanting Microsoft Exchange hosting features without the price. It supports Outlook versions 2000 and up. For now, I’ll stick with Gmail IMAP as I don’t need to sync anything more than mail these days and I can get to my calendar through the web.