Exchange Server sync with phone not working

August 6, 2012

A week or so ago I upgraded the operating system for my Android phone. Everything seemed to be working fine. A few days later I drove to the city to my client’s offices. I turned off WiFi as I left home and turned on Bluetooth. When I got to the offices, I couldn’t get my mail via Exchange Server on the 3G connection. I didn’t worry too much about it as I had meetings to attend and a lot of running around to do, but when I got home I turned off Bluetooth, and turned the WiFi back on. I still couldn’t get my mail via Exchange Server. I could get internet access without any issue, but I continued to get ‘Connection socket timeout’ errors whenever I tried to sync my mail, contacts or calendar from Exchange Server.

I started to point the blame at the operating system upgrade and even called HTC. They said to restart the phone (I’d already tried that), then to power off fully and power back on (I’d tried that too), then remove the battery for about 5 minutes (yep, I had already tried that too). Their next suggestion was to delete my Exchange Server account on the phone (after writing down all the settings!) and re-enter the account. If that didn’t work, they suggested that I turn off the router/WiFi and then turn it on again, and if that failed, then I was to call them back to do a factory reset (in which case I’d lose ALL my settings, apps etc.).

I was loathe to delete the Exchange Server settings off my phone — let alone do a factory reset — as it had worked fine a few days before (I was still blaming the OS upgrade), so I called my saviours at PC Guru to see if there was anything I had to set/reset on the server before I deleted the account and tried reconnecting. After a short discussion with me, my Guru asked if I could remote in from any computer to my server (e.g. via Outlook Web Access). I was working within my network, so I couldn’t test that.  So he tried to access my Outlook Web Access from his PC but couldn’t get a connection. He couldn’t get any of my other remote working options to work either, which would also explain why my phone couldn’t connect to my Exchange Server.  He thought a service on the server might need to be restarted, so he remoted in to my server and restarted the IIS web service.

Once he’d done that, he could see the login screen for my remote connection options, so he called me back and asked me to try syncing with Exchange Server again. It worked!

I had been unfairly blaming the Android upgrade, when it was purely coincidental that it happened about the same time the IIS service went down. Actually, the IIS service might have stopped some time before that as I usually use the internal WiFi to connect via my phone and rarely check from outside (I work from home).

Lessons learned:

  • Sometimes events that you think are related are purely coincidental.
  • I found out that there’s a web service (IIS) that needs to be restarted before I consider ever deleting my Exchange Server account on my phone and setting it up again.
  • PC Guru are awesome! Again!

[Links last checked August 2012]

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