Windows Mobile Device Center: Common connection issues

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Below are descriptions of and solutions for common issues encountered when connecting to Microsoft ActiveSync / Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC). These common issues relate to the following topics:

  • Port availability
  • Registry
  • Cables and hardware
  • Device Manager
  • Charging while in the docking station

Port Availability:

Make sure Windows Mobile Device Center/ActiveSync on the desktop PC is enabled to connect through the port with which you want to connect. From the main ActiveSync window on the desktop PC, click on the File menu > Connections Settings. If you are connecting to a serial cable, an infrared port, or a Bluetooth device, make sure the "Allow serial cable or infrared connection..." checkbox is checked with the proper port selected. Or, if you are using USB, make sure the "Allow USB Connection with this desktop PC" checkbox is checked, and then click OK. It may be good to reset the PC and the Field Controller before trying to connect again to the port.

Windows Registry Corruption:

Windows Mobile Device Center/ActiveSync may fail to connect, or start dropping the connection due to a corrupted Windows registry on the Windows CE or Windows Mobile device. If the problem is related to one particular Field PC, try to resolve the problem by restoring the device to a previously saved state or setting the device to factory default settings. Please refer to the product manual for more instructions.

Check Cables and Hardware:

Some USB ports do not provide enough power to sustain a stable Windows Mobile Device Center/ActiveSyncconnection. Try switching your connection to another USB port. If that does not work, try some of the following options.

  • Check the physical port on the Field PC. For the USB port, check the brass pins or mini-USB connector on the base of the device. If you are using a docking station, check the pins and mini-USB connector in the dock as well.
  • If you are connecting to ActiveSync using a serial cable, make sure the serial cable is the one received with original product purchase. Or if you are using an RS-232 sub D NULL modem cable from another manufacturer, make sure it is "Windows CE" or "ActiveSync" compatible (pins 6 (DSR) and 1 (DCD) are jumpered together and connected to pin 4 on the other end).

Device Manager:

If you are using USB to connect to Windows Mobile Device Center/ActiveSync, make sure the Field Controller shows up as the proper type of USB device in Device Manager on the desktop PC.

To make sure the Field Controller is correct in Device Manager, follow the steps below:

  1. Connect the USB cable to the Field Controller or drop the Field Controller into the dock.
  2. Click on the desktop PC's Start Menu > Settings and/or Control Panel.
  3. In the Control Panel, double-click on the System icon > Hardware tab > Device Manager.
  4. Make sure Windows CE USB Device, RNDIS, or similar appears in the Device Manager list. Also make sure a Windows Mobile Device Center/ActiveSync device shows up under the Universal Serial Bus Controllers category or that "Windows Mobile device" appears under Network Adapters or Connections.
  5. If "Unknown Device" appears under any of the categories listed in Step 4 and all other USB device besides the Field Controller  are recognized properly by the desktop PC, right-click and remove this "Unknown Device" from the Device Manager list, then reset the desktop computer and Field Controller. Windows Mobile Device Center/ActiveSync may need to be uninstalled and then re-installed if the problem continues to occur after rebooting.