Synchronization refers to the process of resolving differences in certain classes of data, such as e-mail residing on two devices (i.e., a mobile phone and a personal computer), to obtain a version that reflects any actions taken by the user (e.g., deletions or additions) on one device or the other. Synchronization of information may occur at either the record level or the file level. When done at the file level, any discrepancies from the last synchronization date and time result in the latest version automatically replacing the older version. Occasionally manual intervention may be needed if upon independently modifying both versions since the last synchronization occurred. Record level synchronization is done similarly, but with more granularity, whereby only out-of-date parts of a file are resolved and replaced.
Mobile devices are typically populated with data from the personal computer during the synchronization process. A significant amount of informative data may reside locally on a personal computer. Data from the mobile device is synchronized to the computer through user-defined preferences in the synchronization software. Because the synchronized contents of a mobile device and personal computer tend to diverge quickly over time, additional information may be found in one device or the other.
The synchronization software and the device type determine where mobile device files are stored on the PC. Each synchronization protocol has a default installation directory, but the location may be user-specified.