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Data Synchronization With ActiveSync (Windows Embedded CE 6.0)


Microsoft ActiveSync provides support for synchronizing data between a Windows-based desktop computer and Windows Embedded CE–based devices. Using time stamps and user preferences, the synchronization process tracks data changes on both computers, and then transfers the appropriate data so that each machine has the most-recent versions. Outdated or unwanted data is discarded. Windows CE 5.0 provides support for ActiveSync version 3.5 and later.


ActiveSync does not support synchronization between Windows Embedded CE-based devices themselves.

ActiveSync supports serial, USB, infrared, modem, Bluetooth, and Ethernet connections.

For the Windows Embedded CE–based device, ActiveSync supplies this functionality:

  • Backing up and restoring device data.
  • Installing and removing programs.

For interactions between a desktop computer and a Windows Embedded CE–based device, ActiveSync supplies the following functionality:

  • Data synchronization
  • File conversion between the desktop computer and Windows Embedded CE-based device formats
  • Importing and exporting database tables
  • Preparing the desktop for remote connections

This functionality is implemented by user-written code (service providers) that runs within the ActiveSync framework.


When you want to synchronize a data record that has multiple properties, the data type of each property value must be unique.

ActiveSync also supports the option of maintaining a connection with a single desktop computer without staying in synchronization with that computer. When a user chooses this option, ActiveSync cannot connect and synchronize with a second desktop computer until the user terminates the connection with the first computer.

ActiveSync is built on a client/server architecture that consists of a service manager (the server) and a service provider (the client):

  • The service manager is a synchronization engine that is built into ActiveSync; it resides on both the desktop computer and the Windows Embedded CE–based device. It performs those tasks common to all synchronization — establishing a connection, detecting data changes, resolving conflicts, mapping and transferring data objects. It and related software are shipped with Windows Embedded CE.
  • The service provider determines what data is tracked for changes by the service manager. It consists of two pieces written by developers — the desktop provider on the desktop and the device provider on the target device — that perform the synchronization tasks specific to your data. Microsoft provides service managers for several standard Windows applications.

The following illustration shows how the service manager interfaces with the service provider to access data.


Ee484901.collapse(en-US,WinEmbedded.60).gifDownloading ActiveSync

Desktop ActiveSync 4.2 is now available. To download the latest version, see the ActiveSync page.

Ee484901.collapse(en-US,WinEmbedded.60).gifConfiguring Exchange ActiveSync

ActiveSync can be configured to synchronize with a desktop computer or with a Microsoft Exchange server. The behavior of Exchange ActiveSync varies depending on the way the Exchange server is configured. For more information about configuring Exchange ActiveSync, see Exchange Server 2003 on Microsoft TechNet.


The root certificate must be added to the device before you configure the device to use Exchange ActiveSync.

See Also

Other Resources

ActiveSync Registry Settings