Spanning Tools review: Cure your cloud syncing woes

Whether you use iCloud(s aapl), MobileMe or Google(s goog) to sync your contacts and calendars — no matter how careful you are, glitches occur. The more devices, accounts and information you have increases the potential for problems. Fortunately, Spanning Tools helps clean up your contacts and calendars, making sure your syncs go as planned and correcting any errors after the fact.

The program has three major components: Calendar Cleaner, Contacts Cleaner and Sync Tune-Up. If you want just one of the components, you can purchase the first two separately at the Mac App Store. However it’s likely you’ll need all three so I recommend the buying the full package.
Contacts Cleaner looks for issues that could cause errors such as invalid characters, malformed phone numbers as well as duplicate information. What I like about this program is that it not only finds the errors, but tells you why it thinks they represent a problem. For example, I’d often put “husband and wife” in the First Name field, but Contacts Cleaner warns me “This contact has a space in the first name. In some cases these names can become transposed after syncing with Google.” Sure enough when I went into Google, I noticed that problem.

Calendar Cleaner does similar checks for errors that can occur with your various sync destinations. My calendar was fraught with malformed recurring events that wouldn’t sync, and a pass by Calendar Cleaner fixed those in no time.
Both programs give you the option of opening the item within Address Book or iCal in order to make sure you know what kind of change is being made before you authorize it. Apple’s Address Book application looks for merged items itself, but doesn’t give you options to control what is merged. iCal users have no built-in options to search for duplicates and merge events.

Finally, Sync Tune-Up (only available as part of the bundle) gives you a front end for more fine-grained control over fixing your sync-related issues, such as de-registering individual devices and software, or the “nuclear” option which rebuilds the entire sync database. If your sync is taking extra long or you’ve made a bunch of changes with your devices or accounts, a nice reset can do you a world of good. A good indication of problems can be found by looking at your console logs and looking for mentions of the “truth” and too much vacuuming.
The more you sync, the more likely it is that problems will occur. To prevent or repair these problems, Spanning Tools is a great option.
Disclosure: Spanning Tools provided a copy of the software for review purposes.