Pro-Exchange,Lync & Office 365
Belgian Microsoft Unified Communications Professionals
Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Lync Server & Office 365
Preventing Exchange Activesync Direct Push when roaming


As I am working through a list of Activesync policies I’ve come across the following policy item which seemed obvious to me by just looking at the name but when looking at the GUI I got really confused, so brace yourselves while I try to explain and try to keep up :-)


The policy item in question is RequireManualSyncWhenRoaming


So basically I understood the policy item as follows: “you need to sync manually when you are roaming”. Setting this item to $True would seems a cost effective way of preventing people from synchronizing automatically (as in Direct Push) while they are travelling abroad. Still with me ? great… now let’s open up the GUI and see what the interface has to say about this policy.




The RequireManualSyncWhenRoaming policy item is controlled by the checkbox next to “Allow Synchronization when roaming”, if you enable the checkbox you set the policy item to $True, while unchecked it’s set to $False.

From the text in the interface you would probably think that enabling the checkbox would prevent someone from synchronizing when roaming. Furthermore when you open the associated help file you’ll see this description:

“Allow synchronization when roaming

Select this check box to enable the mobile device to synchronize when the device is roaming. Clearing this check box prevents the device from synchronizing when the device is roaming and data rates are traditionally larger. “

Now you may think this is a great feature, turning of Activesync altogether when roaming but unfortunately this is not what it’s about. The text should actually read “Allow AUTOMATIC Synchronization when roaming”…


When you set the checkbox, and thus setting RequireManualSyncWhenRoaming to $True, you basically prevent the user from using the “sync schedule” when he/she is roaming. The checkbox on the Windows Mobile client becomes grayed out as you can see below. It doesn’t however prevent the user from synchronizing manually, which is exactly what the policy name indicates.



When you uncheck the checkbox, and thus configuring RequireManualSyncWhenRoaming to $False, you allow the user to use the sync schedule when he/she is roaming. The checkbox on the Windows Mobile client becomes available and the end-user is able to use his sync schedule when roaming (and thus using Direct Push or scheduled polling).



Which setting to choose depends a bit in who is paying for the data plan. In the organization I work for the data plan and the use of it is not of concern to the messaging platform, basically the end-user has the end responsibility and can therefore choose to use the direct push feature when roaming as long as they can justify the costs to their business sponsors. Therefore we choose to set this policy to $False (unchecked in the GUI). However if you as an IT Admin need to ensure that the end-users are forced to use the most cost-effective method of synchronizing then you probably want to set this policy item to $True. Also keep in mind that not all devices support this policy item, the IPhone for example will not respect this policy item and will always try to use Direct Push.


If you have any follow up questions on this or any other blog posting please don’t hesitate to use the forums, we will do our best to answer them..



Tonino Bruno | ICT Consultant  | | Pro-Exchange Community Lead

Posted 08-12-2009 10:42 by Tonino