I’ve never been as organized as I currently am with the combination of my MacBook Pro, iPhone and Google Calendar. Sure, before I crossed the line to Apple, I had tried to use Thunderbird (with Lightning’s Calendar plugin) to keep organized, syncing to my Windows Mobile phone, but it was always clunky and slow and not worth the effort when things didn’t “Just Work.” Since tasting the sweet Apple pie, I now have multiple Google calendars shared with my wife and synced to both of our Macs and iPod touch/iPhones with Spanning Sync. We are now totally organized, and it’s awesome.
However, like any data system, it’s a case of garbage in, garbage out. The combination of data corruption and synchronization is one that can wreak total and utter havoc on the most organized of people, rendering us as useless as a fish out of water. To combat the potential of this scenario, the folks over at Spanning Sync have released a public beta of its new utility, Spanning Tools.
Spanning Tools is a preventative maintenance suite, analyzing your critical data, alerting you of potential problems, and allowing you to take the appropriate action to eliminate the threat before it manifests in corruption. Spanning Tools comprises three separate utilities.
Calendar Cleaner scans your iCal databases looking for duplicate events and those with malformed dates. It strongly suggests backing up your iCal database first — neatly providing the backup and restore functionality within the application.
Like the Calendar Cleaner, the Contacts Cleaner scans your Address Book for dodgy data in your contacts. It checks for duplicate contacts, duplicate email addresses, contacts with only a single name or a space in a name field (which can cause problems with synchronization). In all cases, you have multiple ways to fix the data (such as using “???” for a blank name, converting to a company contact, removing the space, replacing it with a hyphen, etc). As with Calendar Cleaner, it also has built-in Address Book backup and restore functionality.
The last utility, Sync Tune-Up, provides a window into Apple’s Sync Services, allowing you to see exactly what applications are registered with the service and have access to your data. This gives you an easy method to disable a rogue application that you think is causing a problem, or that you just don’t use anymore.
Sync Tune-Up also provides some last-resort trouble-shooting options to Reset your sync data if things have stopped working completely.
Spanning Tools has great potential as a preventative maintenance utility with critical organization data. I consider it akin to keeping the chain well-greased on your bicycle. The folks at Spanning Sync haven’t announced if Spanning Tools will be a paid product when the final version is released — but in the meantime, the public preview has worked flawlessly for me by identifying some potential issues and presented suitable fixes. I can sleep a little better at night in knowing my organizational data is solid.