Troubleshooting ActiveSync Issues Using Logs

One of the challenges with troubleshooting Exchange ActiveSync clients comes from the fact that they are not PCs, so you cannot install troubleshooting software on them, or remotely pull their logs like you can when dealing with a workstation. That is not to say you cannot troubleshoot them, you just might have to depend on the end user to do more of the heavy lifting, and you will need to setup logging on the server side to see what is happening. Whether you are using an iOS device, a ‘Droid, or a Windows Phone, using Exchange ActiveSync logging on the server is the way to go so you can create log files, often very helpful log files, that you can use to diagnose and resolve issues.

To setup Exchange ActiveSync logging on the server to troubleshoot a client connection, follow these steps.

  1. Have the user ready to reproduce the issue, or have their EAS device in hand so that you can repro the problem.
  2. Log on to Outlook Web App.
  3. In the upper right-hand corner, click Options, See All Options.
  4. In the upper left-hand corner, click the down arrow next to “Manage Myself” and select “Another User…”
  5. Pick the user from the list, or enter details to search for the user and then select them.
  6. In the left hand list, click on Phone to see the list of all EAS devices that the user has configured to access their email.
  7. Select the device you want to troubleshoot, and then click “Start Logging.”
  8. You will be prompted to confirm that you want to start logging for the selected device, and notified that the log will be emailed to you. Click Yes to proceed. Stay on this page.
  9. Have the user attempt to connect to Exchange again, or reproduce whatever problem you are trying to troubleshoot.
  10. Once the error occurs, click “Retrieve Log” to get the logs from the device’s connection to Exchange. Remember, it will be emailed to you as an attachment.

Check your email for the log file(s) and open them in a text editor to review them. In each log you will see an entry that includes the date and time of the connection, the server that serviced the connection, the Exchange version, and then the interesting stuff.

Notice that EAS looks a lot web browser traffic. Well, that is because it is. You will see that the client makes requests by POSTing to the server, and the server responds with various XML responses. The best thing you can do now is to log your own device to see a good working example, so that when a user has a problem, you can more readily diagnose the issue with some familiarity with the log file and format.

Key things to look at in the log include the POST and the accompanying commands being issued by the EAS client, and the ResponseHeader and the accompanying HTTP codes. There are the key transactions, and often the HTTP error code will show you what is wrong with an EAS client.

Written by Casper Manes

I currently work as a Senior Messaging Consultant for one of the premier consulting firms in the world, I cut my teeth on Exchange 5.0, and have worked with every version of Microsoft’s awesome email package since then, as well as MHS, Sendmail, and MailEnable systems. I've written dozens of articles on behalf of my past employers, their partners, and others, and I finally decided to embrace blogging and social media, so please follow me on Twitter @caspermanes if you enjoy my posts.

1 Comment

  1. B. Kohl · November 14, 2012

    Is there a way to set a filter about what amount of detail is logged? Or does this log each event as a separate log file?

Leave A Reply