Sync Your Windows Mobile Contacts and Calendar with Plaxo, Thunderbird, and Google for FREE

A few days ago I wrote about syncing your Windows Mobile contacts and calendar over the Internet for free using Funambol. Today I’m going to show you how to accomplish the same task, plus the ability to synchronize your contacts and calendar with Plaxo, Mozilla Thunderbird, and Google Calendar.

Excited yet? Let me show you how neat this truly is – how would you like the ability to add an event to Google Calendar and have it automatically update on Thunderbird AND your Windows Mobile device (Smartphone or PocketPC)? Sound good? How about adding a new Contact on your phone and having it show up in Thunderbird (or vice versa)? What if I tell you that you don’t even need to install anything on your phone? Oh, and here’s the best part – the entire process is FREE.

Required Tools

Several pieces of software work in conjunction to keep everything in sync. Here’s what you will need:

On the Internet:

  • a Google Calendar account (if you’re reading this, you probably have one already)
  • a Plaxo account

For Your Windows Mobile Device:

For Your Computer (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux/BSD):

Sound complicated? It really is not. Here’s a visual guide that I threw together to illustrate the data directions.

total-sync-graph.png

Before we begin, let me state that all of these products are currently free. While I hope they all stay that way, I have not yet discovered whether or not NuevaSync will begin charging for their service once they come out of Beta. If anyone associated with NuevaSync reads this, we would appreciate a comment. Also, Plaxo has a free and a Premium service. For the purposes of this guide, the free service is all you need.

Also, please note that some of these services are in Beta, meaning that there may be bugs and/or outages. PLEASE BACK UP YOUR MOBILE DATA BEFORE YOU PROCEED! This guide may work flawlessly for you, or it may eat all the noodles in your pantry. Proceed with caution. I am not responsible for any lost data.

Step One – Web Services

1. First things first, if you want to sync with Google Calendar, you must HAVE a Google Calendar. If you have a Gmail account, you already have one.

plaxo-logo.gif2. Next, create an account with Plaxo. Yes, Plaxo is yet another social network, though without the I’m an attention whore kind of mentality most social networks have. Instead, Plaxo focuses on keeping information about you and your contacts up-to-date. Here’s the last few lines from their About Page:

We are dedicated to the notion that your address book, your friends list, and your content belong to you, not to us. We make it easy for you to take them with you wherever you go and to use them with an ever-expanding array of sites, applications, and devices.

I can’t stand most social networks, but I can handle Plaxo simply because they are an integral tool in keeping my sync setup working.

3. Add a Google sync point to Plaxo.

Before you sign out of Plaxo, we need to add a sync point for Google. Essentially, you are going to give Plaxo your Google Account information and have Plaxo log in and perform a Calendar sync every 15 minutes.

Click the Calendar tab at the top of Plaxo.

plaxo-cal.png

At the bottom of the page, look for the Add sync points link.

add-sync-points.png

Choose the Google option, enter your account information, and follow the prompts. Plaxo can currently only sync your Google Contacts in one direction (from Google to Plaxo), but syncing with Google Calendar is bi-directional.

plaxo-gcal-sync.png

Once this step is complete, your Google and Plaxo calendars should be synchronized. Now you can move on to the Windows Mobile device setup.

Step Two – Windows Mobile Device

We’re going to use NuevaSync to connect your Smartphone/PocketPC to both Google Calendar and Plaxo. There are two main steps to this process.

1. First, create an account with NuevaSync, a service that provides over-the-air synchronization of Smartphones and PocketPCs. Their website is pretty sparse, but essentially NuevaSync acts like an Exchange Server, using the built-in ActiveSync (OTA) protocol on your Windows Mobile device. Think of it as a proxy to Google Calendar and Plaxo.

nuevasync-status.pngOnce you’ve created your account, all you need to do is tell it sync your Calendar and Contacts with the appropriate services. You will see a status and setup screen like the one shown here. Use the change button to choose the Google and Plaxo services, and use the setup button for each to provide the appropriate login information for each service. (Note: if you are uncomfortable providing your Google and Plaxo login information to NuevaSync, you will be unable to proceed any further. I admit that it was a little disconcerting, but I have seen no consequences to date. If either account is ever hijacked, I will post back here.)

2. Configure your Windows Mobile device to connect to NuevaSync.

Guess what? You don’t have to install anything on your Windows Mobile device from NuevaSync. All you need is ActiveSync, which is already built-in. Here’s the process:

  1. Launch ActiveSync (Programs → ActiveSync).
  2. If you have an existing server setup, delete it (Menu → Options → select Microsoft Exchange → Delete).
  3. Add a server source (Menu → Add Server Source).
  4. Enter www.nuevasync.com under Server Address.
  5. Make sure that the encrypted (SSL) connection box is checked and select Next.
  6. Enter your NuevaSync username (your_name@mail.com) and password.
  7. Under Domain, enter anything you want. The field is required to continue, but NuevaSync supposedly doesn’t use it (If this area is grey, this just means that you’re lucky enough to own a newer device and can proceed without entering anything). I entered “crap” for my domain.
  8. Press Next.
  9. The last screen shows the data available to sync (Contacts, Calendar, E-mail, Tasks). At the time of this writing, NuevaSync only supports syncing Contacts and Calendar. Leave the others unchecked.
  10. Press Finish. Your device should now attempt an initial sync. If it does not connect, check your login information again. If it syncs, you’re in business.

Here are three slides that show the process on my smartphone:

At this point, your Contacts should have been sent to and synced with Plaxo. Let’s verify this: Manually log in to your Plaxo account, click People → Address Book. See your contacts? If so, try adding a contact on your mobile device. It should soon show up in Plaxo. Try deleting that same contact in Plaxo. At the next sync, did it also disappear from your phone?

Go on to the next page (below).

35 thoughts on “Sync Your Windows Mobile Contacts and Calendar with Plaxo, Thunderbird, and Google for FREE

  1. with all the software that works on windows mobile(smart phone or pocket pc) that lets linux or any operating system see the WM device as a usb drive why has someone not used that function to work with the file directly on the WM device directly and bypass microsloths proprietary active sync.

    maybe no one has thought of it except a linux noob like me.

  2. Set this up last night and it seems to work quite well. As a Thunderbird user who avoids Outlook like the plague, thanks much for researching this.

    Contact with the NuevaSync servers does seem to be somewhat sporadic (as you mentioned) but that is perfectly acceptable given their beta status. And given the functionality they have, I would even be willing to pay something for the service once they are out of beta, especially if they expand the number of other sites they can link with (as I suspect they will).

    Again, thanks for doing the legwork on this.

  3. I ran into an issue with Plaxo, trying to sync across several systems. At my office, I use Outlook, which I have syncing with my Treo. The Outlook/Plaxo sync works like a charm. On my home system, I use Thunderbird (since I have a choice, tho I do with Thunderbird’s address book wasn’t so lame.)

    I synced my Office to Treo. Perfect. Came home, blew out my address book in Thunderbird (since much of it was outdated) and tried to sync down from plaxo. Instead, Thunderbird was seen as an authoritative source, and it deleted all of my contacts in Plaxo. When I got back to the office, I backed up my address book to file, synced again, and all of my contacts went missing from Office (since they were gone from Plaxo). I had to backup via file and resync with everything. Now I’m nervous about trying to restore my Thunderbird contacts at home, since the same thing might happen.

    I think the problem is that I don’t see anywhere in Plaxo where you can specify which sync point is authoritative. 🙁

  4. Dipali – I’m glad you think my content is worthwhile, but I prefer that people only copy a short blurb and then link back to the original article.

    If you had something else in mind, just contact me.

  5. Thank you so much! I’ve just recently purchased a new notebook and it doesn’t come with Outlook and I really didn’t want to purchase additional software. I only used Outlook to sync my calendar and contacts as a backup. Your article really help me a great deal. Now I have several locations for my calendar and contacts and the best part is they will stay in sync.

  6. I tried WM6.0(Russian)-NueveSync.com-GoogleCalendar.
    Everything is OK till the moment of “Searching Changes”. It stops then with code 0x85010014.

    During the tests I lost my addresses (there is a backup).
    Be very carefull with your data.

  7. Thanks! I’m setting this up tonight! One question: using this setup, which contact list (thunderbird, plaxo, phone)will be the “master”? So when it syncs, what overrides what?

  8. @Dee : yes it does but you can’t choose a calendar to be not synced.

    Here is a workaround solution :
    * create another Gmail Account
    * share with this account the calendar to be synced
    * change your parameters in nuevasync to the new Gmail account

    hope it helps,

    Thanks for the tuto,


    Max

  9. Thanks for a great (and functional) tutorial!

    I’m just got my very first smartphone and it’s nice being able to use thunderbird and plaxo.
    This whole set up worked like a charm. I was amazed I did it correctly! Thank you again!

  10. If one wants only to sync Google apps contacts and calendar with a Windows Mobile 6.1 device (HTC S620/T-Mobile Dash in particular) and not use Thunderbird, is Nuevasync the only necessary service? It appears to sync with Google apps directly, not needing Plaxo.

  11. GW – Yes, Nuevasync is the only required service in your case. As you noticed, Nuevasync can now sync with Google contacts directly, thereby eliminating the need for Plaxo (if you don’t want it). This is a new feature since I wrote the tutorial.

    Good luck.

  12. Thank you… it feels like a life-time of trying to get things nice like this. Linux and my HTC Windows Mobile are starting to make some sense. This greatly improves One’s functionality. Keep up the works and sharing, its inspiring. Peace.

  13. What if I also want to synch with my e-mail. If I delete every server, then I can’t synch my e-mail. Is this not an issue for anybody else? This is especially problematic since nuevasync does not sync e-mail, right?

  14. Brian,

    Thanks for the great tutorial and heads up about Nuevasync, I configured everything as per the instructions and it seems to work perfectly so far!

    I also sync my contacts with my Google web account via the zindus add-on for TB. (Otherwise I gather from your diagram that Google contacts aren’t really in the picture as you just use the phone or TB address book?)

    Is there any reason why you didn’t also use the Plaxo calendar in Nuevasync? I’m wondering as I sync both my work calendar from iCal and my personal calendar from Google into Plaxo – would both come through to my phone via Nuevasync?

    Cheers!

  15. you don’t cover if this will allow you sync with your office outlook but your home thunderbird. you ask to delete existing servers which i do not want to do. additionally the next step to add in the URL of the nuevasync server but that option is not present, it shows me a email address. I can only assume this is because of the activesync connection I have to my work computer. Do I really want to delete that? I just don’t know at this time!

  16. boo!

    was the goal of this to create 4-5 copies of the same contact and then to delete others, if so it worked perfectly!

    I’ve tried it twice and there are to many sync issues going on. Activesync is to inconsistent.

  17. the effort you pay in thinking over and working it out must have been tremendous. I’ve just set it up and it works like charm. I have always wanted to have a synchronization solution for my GTD, and finally here it is. Thank you so much for sharing.

  18. Months later, after cursing Vista, Palm Treo750w, WM 6, and all usb cables I am SO relieved! It is simple, can be used on any PC, everywhere, at any time. One to rule them all… thank you very much.

  19. Please help…I do the directions above and it does not work. on my mobile 6.1 phone which is a htc touch I type in a add server point with nuevasync server address and their user name and password I set up and when I do activesync does start syncing like you said and then it stops and goes right back to the configure server screen where you type in your user name and password. I have uninstalled and reinstalled and checked everything thrice and nothing changes. I am in a maddening cycle. Please help…

    Side note, I am doing this because funambol does not work for me either…

    I realize this is not a help forum and emails are not published…how can I get help?

  20. Desktop Computer OS: Ubuntu 8.04 (Linux)
    Smartphone: Samsung Omnia running Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
    E-Mail Client: Mozilla Thunderbird 2.0

    I initially had some success with FinchSync (using a USB cable), but was unable to later get FinchSync to work corectly. I played around with varying things for a few weeks, but never succeeded. Finally, I tried the Plaxo/NuevaSync idea. It worked pretty much on the first try. As suggested I played around with it (adding/deleting contacts on both the Omnia and in TB) and everything works fine.

    There are only 2 downsides I have encountered (so far):

    1) I am giving all my contact info to Plaxo (and potentially NuevaSync).

    2) I use the Thunderbird Addon on “MoreFunctionsForAddressBook”, which adds a contact picture (and other useful things) to the Thunderbird Addressbook. Unfortunately, the pic does NOT sync. My initial thoughts were that the Plaxo Thunderbird AddOn does NOT incorporate the additional fields from “MoreFunctionsForAddressBook”. However, upon looking at this further, I’m finding this to NOT be true (the Category field, for example, DOES sync with Plaxo). Thus, I’m not sure why the pic can’t sync. If I could get the pics to sync, I’d be very happy indeed. There are some less important “MoreFunctionsForAddressBook” fields that would also be nice to sync (Spouse’s name, Birthday, etc…). Anyone have any thoughts about how to get the Pics +/- the other fields to sync with Plaxo?

  21. I was using this sync mode for several months (it was working like a charm!) until last week the contacts sync started to fail. NuevaSync informed me Plaxo was not allowing them access to their API but expected this to be solved in the short term.
    I suspect it has to do with the fact that Plaxo moved their “Outlook Sync” function to the premium package.
    If Plaxo does cut this functionality for good does anyojne have any other alternatives to sync contacts?

      1. Brian, The only reason that this is not an option for me is because the contacts in the Gmail account are excessively simple and my contacts database contemplates more information than Google is willing to carry at the time.
        Any other thoughts?
        PS: Since losing the Plaxo connection via Nuevasync I’ve installed Outlook in my computer and synced exclusively the contacts locally. And just FYI, Microsoft removed WiFi syncing from Activesync beyond version 4!!!

  22. I just used neuvasync with success. I have a google calender and I synced my contacts from my old WinMo 6.1 phone with a new 6.5 HTC Touch2 without signing up for plaxo. Thanks

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