Welcome back to Acing the A+, FSET’s introductory guide to getting CompTIA A+ certified, which is the standard for Information Technology support in the field. In this edition, we’ll be taking a look at mobile device configurations and synchronization in the cloud.
When you first take a modern smartphone out of the box, in most cases, many of the settings will already be configured for you. Most phones come pre-loaded with standard operating systems – such as Android or iOS – along with a series of programs, background processes and applications that tell the device what to do. However, there are also a number of settings that you’ll need to configure and manually adjust yourself.
While there are many examples to choose from, sending and receiving emails is one of, if not the most common technologies used on smartphones. Whereas your phone number will be assigned to you, it will be your choice as to which email service and applications to use; you may settle on the ever-popular Gmail, or your employer may require you to download and use Microsoft Outlook.
Speaking of employers, it’s becoming increasingly common for businesses and organizations of all types to require workers to install corporate configurations on your devices, whether or not they are company owned. More often than not, these will be tested and true security protocols, such as password protectors or authenticators, but in other cases, you may be required to install backdoor access keys (among other things) to get into company servers and see confidential information in the cloud. Sometimes companies will also require you to install synchronization software, so that data entered on one device will seamlessly transition to others on the corporate network.
Nowadays, many companies and managed service providers are choosing Microsoft’s 365 service umbrella for safe, secure, efficient and accessible virtual networking, including applications like Teams, OneDrive and the aforementioned Outlook for workers and clients. Microsoft 365 offers a wide range of customization options for users, and as soon as you’re authenticated on your organization’s network, you’ll usually have free reign to tailor application settings to your liking, excluding settings that have been pre-determined and locked into place by the employer.
Because systems like Microsoft 365 are cloud-based, meaning data exists in and is exchanged through the Internet, it is easy for uses to sync their emails, contacts and more across several different devices – in fact, services like OneDrive, as well as Apple’s iCloud are often turned on by default on most mobile phones, tablets and computers. All it takes is signing into your account – aka authenticating – and whatever you do on one device will appear on your others!
If you do choose to use a syncing service, it is a wise idea to go into the application’s settings and configure exactly what you do and do not want it to share. For example, many people get into the habit of using their work phones outside of office hours, and while this is generally sound practice, you may not want to accidentally upload a meme and crowd your company’s servers with unnecessary imagery or information. Simply select or de-select what you do and do not wish to share to avoid these kinds of issues.
Device synchronization can come in handy if devices are lost, stolen or broken. If something happens to one of your devices, being synced means that you’ll be able to login on another and regain access to whatever it was that you might have otherwise lost. This could mean something as important as a confidential work file, or something more simplistic like calendar contact information for your friends and family.
It’s important to think about connection speeds and bandwidth limits when it comes to syncing data across different devices. If your smartphone is using data and there is a cap on how much data you can send a month, you may not want your phone to automatically sync large files through the cloud. In most cases, there are options you can select that will permit large data transfers over 802.11 (Wi-Fi) signals only. Lastly, it’s also possible to put caps on the amount of data that can be transferred over a given network.
In addition to being mindful about your usage of data, staying on top of synchronization is also easier if you spend a bit of time to clean up your folders as necessary, instead of letting everything automatically upload to one location in the cloud. Just as it’s possible to change when things sync, you can also change where they sync to by configuring your device and account settings the way you desire.