Five ways to mix business and personal data on your smartphone | Techworld. (No longer available online. Original text included below.)
Smartphones now make up almost half of all phone sales. In business, smartphone usage is even higher, with most people bringing their own personal phone to work with them. Few want to carry multiple phones with them, so instead, we’re using one phone to do it all. Here are five ways you can access your business and personal accounts without having to carry two phones.
1. Virtual Machines
A growing method of making a personal phone safe for work data is through the use of a virtual machine. Using software like VMware’s MVP allows a phone to have a separate business environment with its own apps and settings, like a phone within a phone, making a clear distinction between work and personal. Your business would need to provide and manage the software however, which is not yet common.
2. Remote Desktop
Similar to using a virtual machine, there are many apps like TeamViewer on iOS and Android, or LogMeIn on iOS and LogMeIn Ignition on Android that allow a smartphone to access a Mac or PC, seeing and controlling the programs running on it. Referred to as “remote desktop”, this is another way to have a clear line between work and personal, but this method relies heavily on having a reliable data connection. Without one, you won’t be able to see your work computer, and won’t have access to any of its programs or data.
3. Proxy Account
For some uses, having one account access the data from another may be an option. For example, using forwarding and filters, it’s possible to have messages from your work email account forward to a specific folder or label in your personal account. This is also common on calendars, where you could give your work calendar account full proxy access to your personal credentials, allowing you to see and manage it through your personal calendar. You can even use Google Voice to forward calls from one of your numbers to the other.
4. Multiple Accounts
Android phones allow syncing with multiple accounts. Google’s Calendar app uses this to display calendars from multiple accounts, all comingled on the same screen. Google’s Gmail app does something similar, but keeps the data from multiple accounts separate, allowing you to switch between them. You can even have different notification sounds for each account, so you know when work email arrives verses personal email. Windows Phone 7.5 just added some limited syncing options as well, allowing 25 Google Calendars, and the ability to “Send Mail As…” that can include your work email address.
5. Multiple Apps
For those instances where one app won’t work for both work and personal, then two apps will have to do. This is common for email, where you might use the Gmail app for personal mail, and the Email app for IMAP access to your companies mail server, or the Yahoo app for viewing mail in a Yahoo account. If you want to keep your web browser bookmarks, cookies, and cache separate, you can use the default browser for personal while installing another browser like Dolphin for work.
What will work best for you depends on your circumstances. In general, comingling your data isn’t a good idea, and many companies have policies against accessing your work mail through a personal account. In a business where data security is vital, a virtual would be best. If you always have a strong data connection, remote desktop could also keep sensitive data safe. Short of that, most people are likely to have a mix of apps that support multiple accounts, like Gmail on Android for their email, while using multiple apps for other activities where one app can’t do both. How do you manage the two parts of your life on one phone?