Previous 1 2 Next 16 Replies Latest reply: Jun 8, 2010 4:04 PM by jinniferb
jhrichmond Level 1 (10 points)
I sync over the air my email, contacts and calander between my Exchange account at work and my iPhone.

Last night I took our our Exchange server down for some maintenance. While it was doen I wanted to make a call using my iPhone, but found that my contacts list was empty. Once the Exchange server was back up, my contacts list was once more available on my iPhone.

Is this the way it is supposed to work? Seems a bit strange that my contacts list would try to sync with the server when it is down, and decide to empty itself as a result? I would have thought if it could not connect with the server it would just not be able to sync for updates, but would keep the data already there?

iPhone 3G, Windows XP Pro
  • LenH Level 2 (390 points)
    I don't know if this is the expected behavior, but in my case on Exchange 2003 with iPhone 3.x firmware, that's exactly what happened.
  • kenschipper Level 1 (0 points)
    I had the same issue last night. Problem was that I could not contact my system engineers who were working on restoring the Exchange server since the only place I had their contact information was in my Exchange contacts. There needs to be a way to preserve the contacts locally when Exchange is down. In flight mode you are not connected to the internet and contacts are preserved.

    I searched for an app which would store contacts separately from the iPhone address book (most just tie into it) but the only app I found (private contact) moves contact from the address book to their own list. I email the developer to see if it could be modified to just copy. A way to keep them in sync would be even better although have duplicate lists is a pain. There should be a way to keep the iPhone from blanking the list.
  • mnichols-datanet Level 1 (0 points)
    Anyone know if this is expected behavior?

    It seems pretty dumb on apple's part to design it like that.

    I had a user freaking out over the weekend because exchange was down and all their contacts were wiped off the phone while exchange was bring brought back up.
  • Jameson! Level 1 (40 points)
    That IS the way it works and please don't blame APPLE. They did not develop Activesync. Bill Gates did.
  • mnichols-datanet Level 1 (0 points)
    It's the way that apple implemented activesync on this phone.

    This is NOT the way that it works using ActiveSync on a windows mobile based phone.

    In windows mobile, if the exchange server is unavailable, the users contacts/email/calendar information is all still available on the phone even though the server is down.

    It uses the same technology as the iphone activesync.
    the issue is in the way apple programmed the iphone, not with microsoft's activesync technology.

    If apple is serious about the iphone being able to be used in an enterprise environment, they need to fix this.

    It's completely unacceptable for a user's contact/calendar/email info to be wiped off a phone just because the server goes down.

    This does not occur on the other major players in the smartphone market (Windows Mobile and BlackBerry)
  • mnichols-datanet Level 1 (0 points)
    It also seems that this issue only exists with the Iphone 3Gs.

    I found another thread on this same subject:

    People are saying that it is not a problem for 3G models but is a problem for the 3Gs.
  • Lawrence Finch Level 7 (33,995 points)
    This does not happen on my 3GS, but it WOULD happen if the Exchange server is brought down but the front end is not. If you can't communicate with the Exchange server the phone is perfectly happy to keep your contacts, but if you can communicate and its data store is not mounted it will think the contacts have been erased.

    Fortunately, our SysAdmins know to disconnect from the Internet before performing maintenance on the Exchange server.
  • mnichols-datanet Level 1 (0 points)
    This happened in a single-server exchange environment.

    What happened was there was an extended power outage, but the exchange information store did not come back up properly when power was restored and the server restarted.

    IIS was running on the exchange server but the information store wasn't mounted.

    This still seems to be a problem though.
    It only happens with iphones and not windows mobile which are also activesync devices.

    Windows mobile phones gave an error when trying to sync, but the phones didn't assume that the user had no contacts on the server. It just wouldn't update any new or changed info until the server came back up.

    If it can't read what's in the information store then the sync should fail without touching any data on the phone. The iphone shouldn't assume that the user's contacts folder is empty and wipe out what's on the phone.
  • WiredNut Level 1 (15 points)
    Interesting, this would occur if the mailbox was empty....If I recall correctly, during some Exchange restore operations, an empty mail database is created, with empty mailboxes for each user. Then an Exchange recovery group is used to merge the recovered mailboxes with the empty one. I'm wondering if your device sync'ed to your empty mailbox during the recovery process. If so, I bet a Windows Mobile device would exhibit the same behavior. Was mail there? Or Calendar items?
  • mnichols-datanet Level 1 (0 points)
    That is what was interesting.

    A restore didn't need to be done.
    I just rebooted the server and the stores mounted OK the 2nd time around.

    it would make sense if i was doing a dial tone restore that it might wipe out the contents of user's phone since they'd essentially be connected to a blank mailbox.
  • A_Sharma947 Level 1 (0 points)
    OK, I'm a bit late to the party...Yes that is the way it works because since your contacts are synched with/in outlook they sit on your exchange server. When the exchange server is down, so it everything else with it. I assume you were also not able to access your e-mail. Here's a solution.

    My company Teneros Inc. provides Instant failover for Microsoft Exchange (High Availability, Disaster Recovery). We provide hosted service through the clouds and/or appliance based solution.

    This means, whether it may be a manual shutdown for maintenance, all the way to a disaster your iphone applications/services/information will always be available (if they're running on the exchange server).

    Feel free to contact me directly if you need further assistance. 650.691.4834 or

    • Only “Instant-On” failover in the industry
    • Guaranteed 99.999% uptime
    • Over 200% ROI
    • Zero IT administration
    • Eliminates data corruption
    • Turnkey appliance based solution with no agents to install
    • Object level replication(only one) not block level replication(the rest).
    • Full instance of Exchange (native/ transparent to end users)
  • KalboMac Level 1 (0 points)
    I agree that this is not the way that it should work. And Apple needs to fix it. I don't have this problem with my Palm Pre. But all our executives have iPhones and are not happy about losing their emails, contacts, and calendar when the Exchange 2003 server is down. And there are times when it is down.

    Do Apple techs not read this forum? Does Apple not answer questions here?
  • Lawrence Finch Level 7 (33,995 points)
    KalboMac wrote:
    I agree that this is not the way that it should work. And Apple needs to fix it. I don't have this problem with my Palm Pre. But all our executives have iPhones and are not happy about losing their emails, contacts, and calendar when the Exchange 2003 server is down. And there are times when it is down.

    Do Apple techs not read this forum? Does Apple not answer questions here?

    Apple techs do not read this forum in their official capacity. Some come here as users and answer questions as users, not representing apple. Apple does not answer questions here. Apple moderates the forum, and collects statistical information on problems, but that is their only participation.

    As to the problem you describe, I don't have it. I suspect that's because our IT department takes the front end offline before performing maintenance on the Exchange server. As every IT organization should, as this can affect Outlook users also.
  • matt.kester Level 1 (0 points)
    For regular maintenance we have no problem. It is the unexpected issues with Exchange that can make this a nightmare. This really should be a feature fix, if anyone from Apple does happen to read this.
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