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Introduction to ActiveSync and Exchange ActiveSync for Windows Mobile smartphones

Introduction to ActiveSync and Exchange ActiveSync for Windows Mobile smartphones

Article ID: 41576

This article explains the difference between "ActiveSync" and "Exchange ActiveSync," and how to use both methods of synchronization.

  • ActiveSync
    When you connect your sync cable?1; to your smartphone and desktop PC, ActiveSync happens. It is a local process that syncs information in your desktop PC's Outlook Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Notes and Email, plus Favorites (Internet Explorer Mobile), Files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, photos and others) and Media (Windows Media Player).

    Before you connect the sync cable, be sure you've installed the version of ActiveSync from the CD included in the box with your smartphone. The installer will walk you through the setup process.

  • Exchange ActiveSync
    Exchange ActiveSync uses ActiveSync technology to synchronize wirelessly with your corporate Exchange account. When you're on the road and you make a wireless ActiveSync connection, it's known as Exchange ActiveSync. It's different from regular ActiveSync because you're synchronizing with your organization's Exchange 2003 Server rather than your local desktop PC. That's why you'll only be able to sync Calendar, Contacts, and Email?2;.

    Exchange ActiveSync is intended for organizations which use Exchange 2003 server and which have IT resources to setup and maintain it. Exchange ActiveSync leverages the same technology that underlies Outlook Web Access (OWA) services. If you already have OWA access set up outside the firewall, configuring and activating Exchange ActiveSync on your Exchange 2004 server is easy.

Blurring the lines of distinction
ActiveSync technology is smart enough to use the most convenient and low-cost connection available. If your smartphone is set up to synchronize your data via Exchange ActiveSync but your smartphone is connected to your desktop PC (which is in turn connected to your corporate network and Exchange server), your smartphone will use the DESKTOP PC's connection instead of performing a wireless synchronization.

How is Exchange ActiveSync affected by firewalls, network issues, and other security precautions?
Exchange ActiveSync provides direct access to the Exchange Server using SSL (a protocol for secure data transmission). In most cases, SSL encryption is more than enough to ensure that your Exchange ActiveSync connection is secure.

More security-conscious organizations may require users to go through a proxy server, or login using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) before using Exchange ActiveSync. Consult your organization's IT department for more information.

How do I sync using Exchange ActiveSync?
When you install ActiveSync from the CD included in the box with your smartphone, you'll be asked if you want to sync some items with the Exchange Server. When you select those items and enter the appropriate information, an Exchange ActiveSync relationship is established.

You can use your smartphone's wireless data connection to sync with the Exchange Server.

  1. First, disconnect the USB sync cable from your smartphone.
  2. On your device, press Start and select Programs.
  3. Select ActiveSync, then select the Sync button at the bottom of the screen.

You can also set up a scheduled wireless Exchange ActiveSync. Make sure your USB sync cable is disconnected. Then, on the same ActiveSync screen as above, select the Menu button at the bottom of the screen. Choose Schedule. Select your sync options.

Does Exchange ActiveSync support email attachments?
Yes. Exchange ActiveSync works through your smartphone's Messaging application, which supports a number of attachments, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents; photos and videos; and certain types of audio files. In Messaging, tap on the attachment to download it the next time you sync. Then tap on the attachment to launch it in the appropriate application on your smartphone.

ActiveSync options that you may have expected to find in Messaging
Contrary to expectations, some important options controlling email are set within the ActiveSync application. This includes the default email size and the volume of mail (by date) to synchronize. It also includes the option to include file attachments and to set the default size limits for those attachments.

  1. Press Start
  2. Select Programs, then select ActiveSync.
  3. Press Menu, then select Options.
  4. Highlight E-mail, then tap Settings...
  5. You can set your E-mail Sync Options on this screen.

Learn more

1 - ... or make a Bluetooth wireless connection to your desktop PC

2 - In addition to Calendar, Contacts and Email, you may see an ActiveSync option to sync Tasks with the Exchange Server. This option is not yet functional, but may become available with a future software update. Check for the latest info. For now, Tasks can be synchronized only with the Windows PC.