Battery drainage, ActiveSync and the dummy server fix

I visit several different Pocket PC forums and from the various postings I’ve read lately, it seems that lots of folks got HP IPAQs for Christmas.  So I thought I’d kick off the New Year with some postings geared towards new users.

The battery drainage issue is a widely documented issue that affects Pocket PCs running the WM5.0 operating system, specifically the rx1950, rx1955, hx2490, hx2495, hx2790, and hx2795 Pocket PCs.  I’m not really sure what the specific cause of the problem is but it seems to be caused by some kind of interaction between the operating system, ActiveSync and installed SD cards.  If you have one of these Pocket PCs and you leave an SD card in the slot, you may come back to your handheld a few hours later and find that the only way you can power it up is by performing a soft reset….or if you leave it for longer, say overnight, you may come back and find that the battery has completely drained.

Now this issue has been documented for at least a year on just about every Pocket PC forum on the web because this issue affected most all of the newly released WM5.0 Pocket PCs (not just IPAQs).  The workaround involved always removing SD cards when they were not in use and disabling ActiveSync’s automatic syncing option.

ActiveSync & the dummy server fix

Stupidly, WM5.0 Pocket PCs come with a default setting that contributes to the battery drainage problem and can even lead to a completely flat battery in a short period of time.  By default, ActiveSync is programmed to power up the handheld in regular intervals and attempt to sync (probably to an Exchange server).  Perhaps this was Microsoft’s version of push email….who really knows?  But many people don’t sync to an Exchange server and even those that do prefer to sync every now and then, not necessarily every 5 minutes.  This continous powering on of the handheld can cause a battery to become depleted really quickly.  Unfortunately, this feature is not documented in your user’s guide and there’s not an easy and straightforward way to change this setting because the button you need to tap that will take you to the screen on your pocket pc where you can disable this option is inactive.  To activate this button requires setting up the so called “dummy” Exchange Server.  This is referred to as a dummy server because you will never use these settings to sync to a server - you are only programming them into the pocket pc to fool the pocket pc into giving you access to the button that will let you change this setting. 

To perform the dummy server fix:

  1. Open Activesync on your Pocket PC.  If you tap <Menu>, you'll see the second item in the pop-up menu is <Schedule> but this option is grayed out and you can't access it.   NOTE:  If you actually sync to an Exchange Server, you’ve probably already configured these screens with live settings so disregard this and go to Step 3.
  2. Instead tap <Add Server Source>. Enter “” in the server address box and tap <Next>. On the next screen enter any kind of foolishness in the username, password and domain boxes. Tap Next > Finish.
  3. Now you’ll see that when you tap <Menu>, the  <Schedule> option is now available.  Tap <Schedule> and then tap the down arrow next to "Peak times" and change this setting to "Manual". Tap the down arrow next to "Off-peak times" and change this setting to "Manual." Tap OK at the top right-hand side of screen.  The option has been deactivated!

Finally delete the dummy server settings you just created by tapping Menu > Options > Delete button > and tap <Yes> to delete the server settings.

Now ActiveSync should only come on when you turn it on. Whenever you use ActiveSync, it is a good idea to turn it off when you are done using it by tapping the memory icon on your Start page, then tap the Running Programs tab. Tap ActiveSync (if it shows in the Running Programs List) and STOP.

This is often referred to as the dummy server hack, but it really isn’t a hack at all.  Even after you fix the problem once and for all by installing HP’s fix, which is a ROM and/or Firmware update, you’ll still want to keep this option set to a manual process…..That is, unless you are one of the two people in the world who really want their Pocket PCs updated every 5 minutes. 

Tomorrow I’ll talk about HP’s ROM and/or Firmware updates that fix this battery drainage/power on problem once and for all…..well for most of us anyway.

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  • January 23, 2007 Ratmando73 wrote:
    Thank you
    1. January 23, 2007 Prof Julie wrote:
      You are most welcome!  Thanks for dropping by!

      1. January 24, 2007 Ratmando73 wrote:
        Hey Julie,
        I have checked all your posts and have done everything you said. My newly refurbished 2495 is now only turning on once a day. I got up this am and it was on. Any other ideas? Thanks for all your help.

        1. January 24, 2007 Prof Julie wrote:
          Do you have any other things set up on your Pocket PC that could be set to run automatically?  Check any POP3 or IMAP4 email accounts you may have set up within the messaging account.  I'll post a blog entry tomorrow that discusses some of the things you can look at to resolve this as well as describes a methodology that should help you figure it out.

        2. January 26, 2007 Prof Julie wrote:

          See my latest blog entry, entitled "Exorcise the Ghosts in your Pocket PC," to find some other things that could be causing your Pocket PC to turn on.

  • March 7, 2007 Geem wrote:
    Thanks for the information, will save my battery and data while away from mains power.
    1. March 7, 2007 Prof Julie wrote:
      Glad you liked the article.  Thanks for stopping by!

  • March 21, 2007 Mark Fry wrote:
    HP should be paying you to fix their mistakes. I finally have a PDA I can trust after more than a year of frustration. I owe you a beer or meal or something!!!
    1. March 22, 2007 Prof Julie wrote:

      I'm glad I was able to help you out! Maybe now you can get down to enjoying your Pocket PC!

      Thanks for stopping by!


  • July 10, 2007 kart wrote:
    hey prof.... i have just purchased an hp ipaq 512 voice messenger.i am in india.
    and last nite i experienced the battery drainage problem too....i have tried ur fix and am hoping that it'l work.
    since this is a very new model there are no bios/rom drivers or updates by hp.
    this is a series 500 ipaq phone so in us the version available is 514 and elsewhere 510.mine is hp ipaq 512 voice messenger.
    so can u pls help me find the rom/bios update for it so that i can also fix the problem.

    then can u tell me how can i store my messages in the card....coz there were 20 messages in my ipaq when it said no more space for new messages...still the device has 55mb free so cant i make it use that memory to store the messages??
    pls help in that matter too

    and lastly the specifications of my ipaq say that it has a TI OMAP 850 is it different from the other processors in the pocketpcs like ARM/XSCALE/MIPS?? and where can i find applications and softwares for my ipaq?? and considering the fact that my ipaq has windows mobile 6 so wud i be able to install the softwares already available for win mob 5?? kindly help
    1. July 10, 2007 Prof Julie wrote:


      The 512 is a smartphone (there is no touch screen), and unfortunately, I do not have much experience with smartphones.  I recently exchanged some thoughts with another 512 user who reported the same battery drain issue you describe, so it is looking like this may be an issue with this model and HP will need to release some kind of firmware or ROM update to fix it.  At this time, there are no updates for this model, so I think the best thing to do is to contact HP and alert them to the problem you are having.  In the meantime, when this problem occurred with other Pocket PCs, the workaround was to perform the dummy server fix (which you have just now done) and to remove installed storage cards when you are not using the device.

      What messages are you referring to?  Are these text messages, email, etc?  20 messages does not sound like much and I wouldn't think these messages would be causing your issue.  With Pocket PCs, the available space is divided between Storage and Program memory.  Is that the same with the 512?  Storage memory is space that is available for the end user - your files and any applications you install to the device will go there; program memory is the space that is available for program execution and you do not have access to that space.  Can you tell me what space is affected?  What is the available memory in these spaces?

      Since the 512 is a smartphone and not a Pocket PC (Pocket PCs have a touch screen), in most cases you will not use the same version of software for your SmartPhone as you would for a Pocket PC (a Pocket PC has a touch screen, a Smartphone does not).  You need to search for Smartphone software.   I would expect most software that works for WM5.0 devices to also work for WM6.0 devices since there really are only small changes in WM6.0. You can probably find software for your 514 at Handango and Pocket Gear.


  • July 10, 2007 kart wrote:
    hey thanx for the reply....
    you askd me that i should alert hp regarding would u tell me what is the exact way to do that? on which site and under which section should i register the complaint?? are they to be put on the forum only??

    and yeah i was talking about the text messages says that my sim memory is then would the messages not go to the device memory once the sim memory is full?
    there are no memory cards installed in the phone as yet and there is only 64mb inbuilt.

    and regarding the battery drain the fix you provided ...wouldnt that solve my problem??since there are no memory cards as yet in my phone so why is it still draining out?
    but then regarding the softwares...handango has a seperate section for windows mobile smartphones but then there i have to select a device and HP is not listed there so i cant access it....tell me some other sites please and what are some of the good softwares i can install on my smartphone?
    i needed a folder lock so that i could lock my folders and the text message inbox there any??
    1. July 10, 2007 Prof Julie wrote:
      You have a couple of different ways to contact HP.  See HP's Customer Service / Contact HP web page.  Better to log a support ticket with HP directly rather than posting your issue on the forum.  The forum is populated for end users like you and me and so you will not get any kind of fix from HP that way, nor will HP necessarily be informed of the issue.

      Have you searched your Programs and Settings to see if there is an application on the Pocket PC that youd could use to specify where text messages should be stored?  There is no such application on the hw6925, all text messages are stored in main memory and there is no way to force the messages to be stored on the SIM card, although there is application on my hw6925 that allows me to move things from the SIM card to the Pocket PC.

      It will be interesting to see if the dummy server fix resolves your problem.  If it does not complete resolve the issue you could have some other automatic processes contributing to the problem and so more digging may be necessary. See this article for potential culprets.

      You can bypass the model specific screen on Handango, as I have done here.  See this article for a list of software I use on my Pocket PCs (of course you would need to look for the Smartphone equivalent).  You might also want to review the Smartphone software that has been nominated on for the 2007 Smartphone & Pocket PC Software awards.  You might also check their Encyclopedia of Software and Accessories

  • July 10, 2007 kart wrote:
    thnx for the reply
    as i used the phone more i faced some strange behaviour.....i have wi-fi network at home so i signed in the windows live messenger signed in and i conversed with my friends but then out of curiosity i turned the wi-fi of the ipaq off and then tried to connect the messenger and to my surprise it still connected.
    i tried it in the market which is quite far from my place but it still worked....
    i have not entered the gprs settings in the ipaq and neither have i requested my service provider to turn it then if its not the wi-fi nor the gprs then how is my messenger signing in????

    another thing there is an "E" which appears on the top of the screen on my ipaq i am not able to get what does that signify??
    and can i install yahoo messenger and other apps in my ipaq??
    1. July 10, 2007 Prof Julie wrote:
      Interesting that you were able to get on the internet without using a GPRS connection.  But there is a lot about that phone that I don't know.  I'd be careful though about using it like that because you might be really surprised when you get your first bill!

      The E that you describe indicates that you are in an Edge area.  Edge is replacing GPRS as the type of data network that many cellular providers use.  It is a better, faster connection.  If your phone is using this data connection, you will see either a large G and a small G or a large E and a smaller E.  If you are not using the data connection, you will only see a large G or a large E.

      Yahoo has a web-based messenger that you may be able to use (no software required), but they may also have a software option for the smartphone (they do not offer a software option for the Pocket PC).  Again, you can load applications to the phone, but you need to look for Smartphone versions.

  • July 11, 2007 kart wrote:
    hey prof.. i have a wi-fi connection at home and i want to connect the msn live messenger through the wi-fi so how can i do that since i see no such option in the phone....
    1. July 11, 2007 Prof Julie wrote:
      If you do not have msn live messenger installed on your phone, then you will probably need to find the software and install it before you can use it on your home network.
    2. July 25, 2007 Swapnil wrote:
      hi kart,
      i m from india too, i hav dome probs too with ipaq512, can i have your mobile number. mine is 09829037449
      1. September 30, 2007 kart wrote:
        hey mobile number is 91-9891537293.or u can add me to ur messenger also and i can clear your doubts.
    3. August 13, 2007 Tushar wrote:
      Dear Kart/Swapnil,

      I am planning to buy 512. Being user of this phone will you suggest me to buy this? Will you suggest me alternate if your answer in no.
      Tushar 9890887427
      1. September 30, 2007 kart wrote:
        hey tusshar.....there are alot of aspects abt this phn that u need to knw brfore deciding to buy it.
        add me to ur messenger
  • September 25, 2007 Pestekkorna wrote:
    thank you for your article! I just tried to configure the dummy server on my tytn II and I hope it is going to work!

    1. September 25, 2007 Prof Julie wrote:
      Glad you found the article to be helpful.  Hopefully it will solve the issue for you!  Thanks for dropping by!
  • September 29, 2007 Chow from Thailand wrote:
    That is smart solution for this problem. I searched a lot in internet to fix it and Lucky me I found good suggest from you. Thank you so... much!!
    1. September 29, 2007 Prof Julie wrote:

      I'm glad you found the post helpful.  Thanks for dropping by and for leaving such a nice comment!  ~prof julie

  • December 7, 2007 Frank Maddox wrote:
    I have a hp ipaq h2495b, Can I get videos on it? Everytime I try I get a not saying I need to turn on Javascript or update my flashplayer. I need help!
    1. December 9, 2007 ProfJulie wrote:
      What kinds of videos are you trying to view on your pocket pc? YouTube videos?  What browser are you using?
  • December 21, 2007 Dennis Taylor wrote:
    Owning an Hp IPAQ hx2190b and suffering the problems of battery drainage and system lockups, may I say thank you for helping me sorting out the problems so that I can now actually use the pocket PC as intended.
    Your easy to follow instructions plus the appropriate downloads have done the trick.
    1. December 21, 2007 ProfJulie wrote:
      Thanks for stopping by.  I'm glad you were able to find some userful information here and I could help you start enjoying your Pocket PC.
  • December 27, 2007 Arnold Rosner wrote:
    Brilliant! My rx1950, when powered off, would flash on every few minutes. Had noticed the "Schedule" option in ActiveSync was inactive, and thought that may be a problem, but had no idea what to do about it. Thanks, Prof!
  • February 19, 2008 Eric Paul Ziegler wrote:

    Does this fix have any positive effect on the instability of the Switcher Bar program? Frequently the Swither Bar fails to show any programs that are running in the background and I have to use the Running Programs List in the Settings/Memory area.

    Or is this a different problem altogether?

    Thanks for the help!
    1. February 20, 2008 ProfJulie wrote:
      I am not familiar with the Switcher Bar program you are referring to.  I doubt the workaround described in this article will have much impact of your issue.  The workaround addresses an ActiveSync/installed storage card/WM5.0 interaction that causes the battery to drain rapidly.
  • March 23, 2008 Calvin LaBauve wrote:
    Prof. Julie, does the dummy server fix apply to iPaq 211's running WM 6.0 Classic? I am having severe battery drain on mine. It has a PNY 1g CF card, and a 4g PNY SDHC card installed. I have replaced the 4g SDHC with a standard 2g SD card to see if that is the culprit, but I just did it this morning.
    1. March 23, 2008 ProfJulie wrote:
      Calvin: It won't hurt anything to apply the dummy server fix to your IPAQ 211.  Please let me know if it resolves your issue.

      1. March 24, 2008 Lorenzo wrote:
        I do have a iPAQ210 WB6 and it did not work Active sync it will come on every four to five minutes
        1. March 24, 2008 ProfJulie wrote:
          What didn't work?  Changing that option in ActiveSync by setting a dummy server didn't work?

          If ActiveSync is coming on every 4 - 5 minutes, you've got something on your pocket pc that is provoking this behaviour.  Have you set up any email messaging accounts on your Pocket PC?

          1. April 13, 2008 Marsha wrote:
            I too tried the fix and my ActiveSync starts syncing every 5 minutes or so...didn't really change anything. Tried all of the "ghost" programs that you recommended...none are set to appear at any time interval.
            1. April 13, 2008 ProfJulie wrote:
              The dummy server fix prevents Pocket PCs that are turned off and not connected to a computer from turning on in regular intervals to attempt to sync.  Isn't your issue related to a Pocket PC that is connected to a computer with a live ActiveSync connection?  That's an entirely different scenario.

  • April 14, 2008 Danelle wrote:
    What should I do if the battery has totally drained and it wont restart even after a soft reset?
    1. April 14, 2008 ProfJulie wrote:
      When you perform a soft reset, does the screen blink and then go dark?

      If your Pocket PC's battery has completely drained, the first thing you should do is plug the Pocket PC directly up to AC power (don't use USB charging) and leave it to charge for several hours.  If the battery is quite depleted, it may take a few hours before you see a blinking light (that indicates the battery is charging).  Let it charge overnight.

      Modern lithium ion batteries have safety circuitry in them that prevent the battery from becoming over discharged.  If a battery's charge status reaches a critical state, it can become unstable and could explode....but the safety circuitry prevents this from happening by throwning a internal switch.  Once the switch is thrown, you probably won't be able to resuscitate the battery.

      A battery can reach this stage if the pocket pc's been lying around in a drawer for several months with no activity.  If the battery does not recharge, you'll probably need to purchase a new battery.  
  • June 2, 2008 Alban wrote:
    Look-up the HP website (support for iPaq 514), and you will find that they have released a fix for battery drainage
  • June 3, 2008 Anonymous wrote:
    when i deleted at the end i lost all my contacts
    1. June 3, 2008 ProfJulie wrote:
      When you deleted what at the end?  The dummy server settings?  There is no connection between those settings and your contacts, so I have no idea why you lost your contacts.

  • July 28, 2008 John wrote:
    Thanks for the clear instructions; the battery on my new iPAQ 214 enterprise lost all its power overnight, but after changing the settings according to your instructions it remains on 100%, even after a couple of days without using it! And I did not remove my 3GB SD card nor my 8GB CF cards.
    1. July 30, 2008 ProfJulie wrote:
      I'm a little surprised to learn that this issue has not be resolved with WM6.0, but I'm glad to hear this worked for you. Thanks for letting me know.

      1. August 25, 2008 N wrote:
        I have an Ipaq 111 Classic with the new WM6.0. This issue definitely has not been resolved. Although I consistently stopped all running programs before turning off my Ipaq, the next time I would pick up my PDA, I typiclaly would discover a nearly dead or completely dead PDA. After reading your post, I followed your instructions and discovered my Ipaq was set to auto sync every 10 minutes, and every 4 hours. Who knew? This information was only displayed after adding the dummy server. I am very hopeful my problems will now be resolved, as this seems to be the logical explanation behind the mysterious battery drainage I've been experiencing. Thanks very much.
        1. August 26, 2008 ProfJulie wrote:
          I did not experience significant battery drain with the IPAQ 110 that I reviewed so I hoped the issue had been resolved.  Trying out the dummy server fix won't hurt anything. I hope the dummy server fix works for you.

          You might also check any email accounts you've set up to make sure they are not set to check for email every couple of hours.

  • September 5, 2008 Daniel wrote:
    Hi Julie, just want to say thanks for your advise on the battery drain, your knowledge is greatly appreciated.

    Thank You
  • September 9, 2008 Ralph Milner wrote:
    iPAQ 211 will not recognize CF card.
    How to fix?
  • October 3, 2008 Pradeep wrote:
    hi Julie,

    I had seen your post on HP forum where you had posted a link for batterty calibration tool but now I am not able to find it. Could you please help me with it? Actually I have a hw6945 and I am facing a lot of issue, while the phone is getting charged either through the power adapter, sync cable or cradle after a while of charging the phone looses network and shows as no service. Also if the battery drops around 50% or less it looses network and shows as no service. Any thoughts on this? I am facing a lot of problem because of this issue.

    Thanks for the help in advance,
    1. October 4, 2008 ProfJulie wrote:
      HP removed the article sometime ago, but I had copied the instructions beforehand.  The article was originally written for windows mobile 2003 devices so I enhanced the instructions slightly to make them more relevant for WM5.0 & WM6.x devices:
      1. Turn the mobile device off and charge it for 30 minutes (no more, no less) only powered by AC Adapter and 22-pin or mini-usb connector (WM6.1 devices) and not connected to the PC/Cradle (make sure the mobile device is switched/powered off).
      2. Remove the mobile device from power and perform a full 'Hardware Reset' and then 'Soft Reset'. (NOTE FOR WM5.0 & WM6.x devices, a full hardware reset could be referred to as a hard reset, a clean reset or a factory reset).
      3. Charge the unit again for 4 hours connected to AC power only.
      Following the procedure exactly as outlined in the steps above will enable full calibration of the battery with the unit (make sure the unit remains switched/powered off during this charge period).

      Note: After a software reset the power Leds (Light Emitting Diodes) should now be on and the battery should be showing 100%. If the unit still fails on power do the following checks:
      • Test the AC Adapter at another location/power source.
      • Swap test The AC Adapter if possible.

  • January 11, 2009 Don Harmon wrote:
    Dear Prof. Julie, Your "Active Server Dummy Sync Fix" worked beautifully! Thank you; I was getting very frustrated and angry at my HP iPAQ 111. Sadly, though, it will no longer sync via USB cable. I reinstalled the sync program from my disc and checked all settings. I am running Windows Vista, by the way, which uses the "Windows Mobile Device Center," rather than ActiveSync. Hope you can help!
    1. January 14, 2009 ProfJulie wrote:
      I'm glad the dummy server fix worked for you.  If you are having problems syncing to your computer through Windows Mobile Device Center, take a look at the two articles I wrote about troubleshooting your synching partnership.  Even through written from an ActiveSync perspective, the tips in those articles also apply to Windows Media Device Center partnerships.

  • March 26, 2009 W Hartung wrote:
    Hi Julie,

    Thanks for the Dummy Server Fix. I have an hx2750 that I acquired used, and it was turning on all the time and draining the battery. Your advice to set ActiveSync to manual seems to have made a big difference.

    The unit also would turn itself half-way on and hang (until a soft-reset), thus draining the battery. This would happen when an SD card was inserted. I installed the HP iPAQ hx2000 Pocket PC Series Firmware Update, dated 12 May 2006, which fixed the SD card problem.

    Everything is great now that I got these 2 things fixed. I now have a 2GB CF card and a 2GB SD card installed. It doesnt turn on unless I want it to, and doesn't hang. I can go for days between charging now. I'm very happy with it.

    Thanks for your help!

    1. March 26, 2009 ProfJulie wrote:
      I'm glad to hear you were able to resolve your issue.  Now you can get on to enjoying the use of your IPAQ.  Thanks for dropping by and I hope you'll find some more useful information here.

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