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Test your setup before connecting iPhone to Exchange with ActiveSync

Get the steps to connect iPhone to Exchange Server using ActiveSync -- starting with how to test the setup on a Windows Mobile device or emulator.

Before you connect iPhone to Exchange on ActiveSync you'll want to test your setup on a Windows Mobile device or mobile emulator. Our expert explains the process.

The iPhone was designed as a consumer device and Apple has simplified its interface. Therefore, connecting iPhone to Exchange is easier than connecting a Windows Mobile device to Exchange. However, if everything isn't configure correctly, you will have a hard time troubleshooting problems.

Connecting a Windows Mobile device to Exchange first will help you verify that all of the necessary components are functional before attempting to connect iPhone. If you don't have a Windows Mobile device, consider using the Windows Mobile Emulator.

If you use the Windows Mobile Emulator to test your Exchange setup, you'll need to manually verify that your perimeter firewall is configured for traffic to flow through port 443. SSL-encrypted ActiveSync traffic uses port 443; it's also used when you configure a physical Windows Mobile device to connect to Exchange.

If the connection works, the port is open. If you use an emulator, connectivity occurs from within your private network. Since ActiveSync traffic doesn't pass through the perimeter firewall in this scenario, you must manually verify the firewall's configuration.

Connecting iPhone to Exchange Server

Power on the iPhone and select the Mail option from the menu. iPhone will ask what type of mail you want to set up. Choose the Microsoft Exchange option at the top of the list.

Next, iPhone will prompt you to enter basic information, including your email address, the name of your domain and your username and password. You also must enter the name of your Exchange server. Enter the server's external URL instead of the actual server name.

For example, my mailbox is stored on a server named Mirage, which exists as a part of an internal domain named However, the external DNS name that's linked to my Exchange organization is This is the value I entered into theServer Name field. Although ActiveSync uses SSL encryption, you're not required to enter the HTTPS portion of the server's URL.

Before you continue, there's a field to enter an optional description of the mail account you're configuring. When you're done, tap Next.

The next screen will prompt you to choose which types of mailbox items to synchronize. The iPhone displays slide bars you can use to turn synchronization for mail, contacts and the calendar on or off. All these items are synchronized by default. As the last step in the mailbox set up process, choose which items you want to synchronize.

In my experience, the iPhone doesn't show messages that were already in an Exchange mailbox before you established a connection. But all new messages become available once iPhone is connected to the mailbox.

About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a six-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his work with Exchange Server, Windows Server, Internet Information Services (IIS), and File Systems and Storage. Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, Brien has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal website at

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