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ActiveSync - Selected Categories Go Missing for Contacts
By Raj Pillai, Copyright 2003-2004
 Version 1.24  Revised 23/12/2004

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Introduction:

This is an issue that might occur occasionally while using Categories for sorting purpose. After assigning, all or some of your Contacts relevant categories and they synchronize to your Pocket PC. However, some of the Contacts which have been assigned multiple categories will appear on your Pocket PC sans all the selected categories.  For example:

You have a contact "Homer Simpson" and have assigned him three categories - Business Associate, Strategies and Competition. The contact would appear only with Strategies and Competition selected. However, the Business Associate category would be found in the master category list of the Pocket PC.

Can This Issue Be Rectified?

In an effort to try finding out if this problem occurs due to some kind of Category limitation, I had undertaken a lot of testing and managed to recreate the problem. However, the results were very inconsistent. Whenever the problem appeared, if I were to repeat the exact steps from scratch it did not.

However, on another attempt it would reappear at some point of time. It did not display any specific pattern. To give you figures of the number of contacts that I had used - 412 contacts with about 187 categories. Multiple categories were assigned to a few contacts some of which didn't show up at times. Performing a soft reset, running Scanpst.exe or deleting and recreating the partnership also did not solve the problem. One interesting behavior was that whenever, I tried the troubleshooting steps explained below, it more often then not resolved the problem.

Additionally, an upper limit on Categories theory did not seem to hold true since at one point of time, I had assigned 65 categories to one Contact and they all appeared correctly.

This leads to only one conclusion that the problem might be occurring due to some kind of corruption in the Categories database on the Pocket PC. Since it is not showing any specific pattern, I think this might be the cause.

How to Troubleshoot?

To troubleshoot this kind of a problem, try the following approach:

  1. Backup your Pocket PC data. (This is just a precautionary measure)
  2. Create a new folder (type - "Contacts item") on your desktop Outlook. Select all your Contacts and move them into it.
  3. Synchronize your Pocket PC and the contacts should disappear from the Pocket PC.
  4. Next on your Pocket PC, In Contacts -> tap New -> Categories and tap the Add/Delete tab sheet.
  5. Delete all categories that are visible. Basically we are emptying the Categories database.
  6. Perform a soft reset.
  7. Connect the Pocket PC and synchronize.
  8. Move your contacts back to the Contacts folder so that they sync with the Pocket PC once again.

This action should help overcome the problem of missing categories.

Insight About The Categories Database On Your Pocket PC:

All categories that are created or synchronized to your Pocket PC, get stored in a System database called as the "\Categories Database". See the screen shot below. The next question that will arise is - How do I view this database?

How Do I View The System Databases?

The System Databases are hidden and cannot be viewed on your Pocket PC unless you install a third party application. Currently, a couple of them available. I suggest you download and install dbView (a freeware application). Please take extreme caution if you are planning to tweak or delete the records/databases. Ensure you have performed backup before editing any entries. If you need information on how to install a software visit - Install Software

Updates from Other Pocket PC Users:

Some users have reported that performing a sync after deleting the outstore.dat and repl.dat file (found under the partnership/profile folder on the desktop computer) has also resolved this issue. This action will make ActiveSync prompt the Combine and Replace dialog upon synchronization and therefore will repopulate all chosen information types.

Read other articles by Raj Pillai

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