Bugs & Fixes: Items that disappear from the iPhone

Macworld.com –

Since fixing MobileMe flaws is all the rage these days, this week's post tackles the problem of vanishing contact and calendar events synced to your mobile device via Apple's online syncing service. And I'll also turn my attention back to smart flash drives, the subject of last week's post.

First, the MobileMe tip: If you sync your contacts and calendar events via MobileMe, you may encounter an unsettling symptom: the contacts and calendar events on your iPhone (or iPod touch) may vanish. This should be less likely to happen as Apple stabilizes the MobileMe service, but it may still occur. If it does happens to you, don't panic. Your data has almost certainly not been lost. What has precipitated the apparent loss is a temporary disruption of the MobileMe service; your data will be restored to your iPhone after Apple "resolves the issue." Check the MobileMe Status page for updates about such disruptions and their fixes.

If your data does not reappear on your iPhone after the MobileMe problem as supposedly been fixed, Apple advises that you turn your iPhone off and back on. After the device has restarted, go to Settings -> Mail, Contacts and Calendars and select your MobileMe account. From here, move the sliders to turn syncing OFF for Calendars and Contacts. Then turn the sync options back on. Within 15 minutes or less, your data should return.

That's all well and good. However, this symptom points to a inherent risk when your iPhone is synced to MobileMe and you have Push (or even automatic Fetch) enabled: Synced data on your iPhone may be compromised at any moment, due to a problem with the MobileMe service. That is, if your data on the MobileMe server gets erroneously deleted (temporarily or otherwise), the same data will likely be removed from your iPhone minutes or even seconds later (requiring the fix described above to get them back).

In contrast, if you instead sync your iPhone via iTunes, the data on your iPhone remains safe and untouched. Even if the matching data were unintentionally deleted from your Mac, your iPhone data remains intact unless and until you connect the iPhone to iTunes to perform a sync.

Turning my attention back to the August 1 Bugs & Fixes column about U3 Smart flash drives, I noted in that post that I could not write to one of these drives until after I reformatted the drive in Disk Utility. Many readers wrote to say that this was not true for them--they could locate and write to the main partition right "out of the box." This is indeed the case in general and is the way these drives are supposed to work. I appear to have had an unusually problematic drive.

Many of the same readers, however, suggested that perhaps I had initially overlooked the writable partition and that it was there all along. I have to admit that there is a possibility that this was the case. There is obviously no way I can now go back in time to check what the drive was like before I reformatted it--so I can never know for sure. However, I am sure that I at least made an effort to check for this before reformatting and did not find the partition.

In any case, the general point of the column remains unchanged. There is a CD-like read-only partition on these drives that is at least a minimal pain to remove. Disk Utility is not up to the task; it will almost certainly require access to a computer running Windows. A couple of readers pointed out that SanDisk does provide a Mac utility to uninstall the U3 partition. However, as it only works in Tiger, I chose not to mention this, though, in retrospect, it might have been better if my article had included the link.

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