Glossary definition of Data Synchronisation

Data synchronisation is the process of updating data over a network. Data Synchronization often applies to data stored on a mobile device. Data Synchronisation works two ways-you can either update data stored on a mobile device, or send updates that were made on a mobile device to the network.

A very simple form of data synchronisation can be, for example, downloading updated news headlines and articles whenever in range of the mobile network, and then reading them offline. As soon as the mobile device comes back within range of a base station, updated news is downloaded automatically, thus synchronising the news data.

Users can retrieve and store data such as pictures or documents on their mobile phone or PDA, and work on them whilst they are away from the network. When back in range, the changed version will be sent from the mobile station via the network to its original location, and everybody else will now be able to see the updated version.

To ensure seamless synchronisation, both the network and the mobile device need to speak in the same language. A variety of these languages-better known as Data Synchronisation Protocols-have been set up to tackle the problem; the most popular and commonly found is the open SyncML synchronisation protocol. It has been designed specifically for handsets running on mobile networks and supports the vCard, vCalendar and iCalendar formats, as well as e-mail and news, XML documents, and a generic binary format for all other data