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:
- 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.
- Instead tap <Add Server Source>. Enter “188.8.131.52” 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.
- 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.