March 24, 2007

Beyond Syncing: My Data Is Flowing Everywhere

It seems we have moved beyond the point of having all data in one master location, but data is being prioritized such that some pieces are backed up in 3 to 4 places simultaneously, while other data is not backed up at all.

Last night this became especially apparent with our setup of the brand-new Apple TV. At initial setup, the Apple TV synchronizes with a selected iTunes library, and effectively backs up the entire song and TV show collection to its 40 Gigabyte hard drive, assuming it fits. Over my 802.11g network (my PowerBook is not yet n-enabled), this can clearly take a considerable amount of time. In fact, while thousands of songs and my TV shows have been synched so far, my iTunes progress bar tells me we have a few thousand more to go before the first full synch is complete. Additionally, if the Apple TV is seen as "busy", showing media, the synchronization stops. This means to offer the ideal setup for syncing, I should keep the laptop open and not use the Apple TV for a bit.

The Apple TV synchronization, in progress

Meanwhile, as this has been going on, Apple's Backup service (from .Mac) asked me this morning if I wanted to complete my daily backup of personal files and data, consisting of Safari bookmarks, e-mail, documents in my Documents folder and more. As I approved that backup, I also noticed that at the same time, my iSync icon in the menu bar began to rotate, indicating that my Address Book, iCal appointments and Safari bookmarks were being synchronized, so I would have the same data with me at the office.

This got me thinking - are we so far beyond the point of having all my data in one insecure location that I need so many pieces of it backed up every which way? My iTunes media is now on the home laptop, the AppleTV hard drive and my iPod, while my address book and iCal data is on my home laptop, work desktop and via the Web, as well as on the iPod. Clearly, over time I've prioritized some data over other data, backing up some pieces 3-4 times, and others not at all. Apple's recent bias, given the company's focus over the last few years, is to save my purchased music and video, even if my professional life didn't depend on it. But to see my data flowing three ways, to iSync, to .Mac Backup and to the AppleTV, all at once, was an eye opener.