The 10 biggest annoyances in Outlook

We show you how to get round them

8. Why can't I synchronise Outlook on multiple PCs?

If you've got multiple computers from which you want to access email - a desktop and a laptop, let's say - this one may well top your all-time annoyance list. You have Outlook on both machines, but there doesn't seem to be a way to keep your mail in sync - the mail on your laptop doesn't match that on your desktop. What you'd like seems simple: No matter which machine you use, you'd like it to have all of your email and be up to date.

As I've explained, Outlook keeps its data in one big .pst file. So if you want your mail to be up to date on whatever machine you're currently using, you'll have to manually copy that file between machines.

For example, let's say you're using your desktop PC, and you're about to head out on the road with your laptop. You must copy the desktop's .pst file to your laptop before you go. Then you can use Outlook on your laptop as you would normally. When you return, copy the .pst file back from your laptop to your desktop, and your desktop will be up to date.

Although this back-and-forth copying will solve your problem, it's a major-league pain in the hindquarters. And it's prone to error as well - you may accidentally overwrite a newer .pst file with an older one.

If you're willing to spend a little money, there's a more bulletproof solution: Get a program that will automatically synchronise your Outlook data between PCs. I found two good pieces of software that do the trick.

SynchPST for Outlook and PSTSync both do similar tasks and come with extras, like the ability to copy and synchronise only individual folders instead of entire .pst files. They're both shareware, so you can try them before you buy them. SynchPST costs $US39.95 for the Basic version and $69.95 (£48) for the Professional version, which has extras such as the ability to schedule automated syncs. PSTSync costs $59.99 (£41).

PST_files

If you use a laptop and a desktop, and have set up your desktop for remote access, then there's an even simpler solution. When you're on the road and need to check your email, make a remote connection to your desktop and run Outlook remotely. That way, you won't need to do any synchronisation at all.

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