Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with the product. I’m just a satisfied user. I just heard about it when it was in public beta, tried it and immediately liked it, but as with anything, your mileage may vary.
The tremendous potentials of Sync Services are obvious to all. Being able to share data between applications, between computers or with additional devices (iPhone anybody??) is wonderful, but for a lot of us, it sometimes turns in a living hell: Data corruption, duplications (endless duplications), loss, syncing stops altogether or a process related to syncing systematically crashes in the background.
Syncing is “less than stellar” for many. While third party applications could be buggy, most now agree that Sync Services have issues and are prone to corruption and we are all desperately waiting for a fix from Apple.
There are several options out there to help you deal with SyncServices issues. I strongly recommend reading the article about SyncServices Troubleshooting on the Entourage Help Website.
The Spanning Sync folks have a lot of experience with Sync Services and quickly identified several sources of corruptions and syncing problems. Then created a set of tools that will analyze your address book and calendar, looking for corruptions or potential sources of troubles and offer you to fix them. This suite offers three applications:
A calendar and contact cleaner, each targeting the corresponding databases on your Mac, and Sync Tune-Up, for more generalized and drastic solutions (more about that later)
The two “Cleaner” applications follow more or less the same approaches. You can chose what to check in the preferences and then let the applications do their magic.
For instance, if I take the Calendar Cleaner, I have the choice between nine potential sources of problems:
Once the scan is done, the application lists all problematic items, with a detailed description of the problems.
You can then decide how you want it fixed, and let the application do the rest.
The Contact Cleaner is similar and scans for a dozen of possible sources of problems.
The third application, Sync Tune-Up, takes a more generalized approach. A first panel lets you unregister an application from Sync Services, and a second one offers you to 1) disable SyncServices 2) force a fresh sync and 3) go nuclear and trash all Sync Service data from your Mac to force all applications to repopulate it all from scratch. Not something you should consider lightly, but when you’re desperate…
This set of utilities is shareware: $19.99, with $5 off for Spanning Sync customers.
Some might argue it’s a bit on the pricey side, but it has literally saved my bacon multiple times and corrected nasty issues I was having both with Entourage and MobileMe more than once. For me it was priceless.