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Configuring ZoneAlarm with ActiveSync
By Raj Pillai, Copyright 2003-2004
 Version 1.24  Revised 01/11/2004

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Most of the synchronization issues are often caused by firewall software.  ActiveSync uses TCP/IP protocol for communication and needs port 990, 999, 5678, 5679 to communicate with the PDA.  For more information refer to MSKB Article - 259369.  The firewall software tend to block these ports which causes errors during synchronization.  The basic idea is to grant ActiveSync applications permission to use the above mentioned ports in the firewall.  Here is a list of applications that ActiveSync uses to synchronize, install/uninstall programs and synchronizing databases.  You will need to configure your firewall software for the following applications:

  • WcesComm.exe  - Used for communicating between the PDA and the computer.
  • WcesMgr.exe - This provides the interface for configuring synchronization settings.
  • CeAppMgr.exe - Used during installing / uninstalling software on the PDA.
  • Dbexport.exe - Used when you synchronize Microsoft Access database.

If you are using ActiveSync 4.x version with a "Windows Mobile 5" device, then click the version of ZoneAlarm you are using to get the firewall configured correctly:

How to Configure ZoneAlarm to allow ActiveSync?

Different versions of ZoneAlarm is available.  In the example given below, I am using ZoneAlarm Plus.  The user interface in the other versions is similar so you should not find it difficult to configure the settings correctly.

When you connect your device for the first time to your computer running ZoneAlarm, you will receive a series of pop-ups if you have chosen the setting that Programs must ask for Internet access and server rights.  If you clicked No to any of them, then you will not be able to synchronize successfully.  The series of pop-ups would look like this:



While synchronizing, Activesync will execute Wcescomm.exe and WcesMgr.exe. ZoneAlarm will list them as "Connection Manager" and "ActiveSync Application".  Here are the settings that you would need to set for ZoneAlarm to allow ActiveSync to synchronize successfully.

  • Step 1: Open ZoneAlarm and go to the Program Control.

  • Step 2: Click the Programs tab on the right on the Program Control menu


  • Step 3:  You have the option to set it to ask permission every time the program is executed or allow it permission to access the Internet and also act as a server.

You can click in the Access and Server area to change settings (a green check means it has automatic Access, a question mark means that the program has to ask every time, and a red X means No Access).  Ensure you have the green tick on so that you grant both the applications permission to access the Internet.  This will prevent the firewall from blocking the port during synchronization.

Alternative Method:

  • Disconnect the PDA from the computer.
  • Remove both the programs (Connection Manager and ActiveSync Application) from the program listing. (Right click the program and click Remove)
  • Connect the PDA once again and you will witness the series of Pop-ups I have explained earlier.
  • Click Yes to give permission to the applications.  You could check the tab to remember the setting so that you are not prompted again.

I hope this article clarifies the different applications that ActiveSync uses during synchronization and helps you configure your firewall settings correctly.

Read other articles by Raj Pillai

Discuss your Handheld PC, Palm-size PC or Pocket PC needs at Pocket PC FAQ Forums.

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