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Strange problem with Blackberry phones and SBS 2011 Standard

Posted on 2014-01-02
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Last Modified: 2014-01-26
Basically it is a standard SBS 2011 Installation. Email is pop3 accounts with the hosting
provider and the SBS pop connector delivers into the required users inbox. A few users
have blackberry phones that received email. Since the new server, users have continued
to receive email since it is is pop mail, but it did disappear from the phone when the server pulled it in every 5 minutes. Now there seems to be no email being received by the phones.
One of the users changed his network logon password using outlook web access over
Christmas but this would surely not affect the email account password would it, as
obviously the two don't have to be the same. Can't understand it. Hope this makes
sense.

Thanks in advance
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Question by:floyd197
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by:
Cliff Galiher earned 500 total points
ID: 39752191
Yikes. Well, you left out a few key pieces of information that will change the answer slightly based on what the situation. Let's start with a few clarifying questions to fill in the blanks.

"Since the new server, users have continued..."

This implies that things used to work, SBS 2011 was added, and how things worked has changed. But what was in place BEFORE the "since the new server event? Are dealing with an upgrade from a previous version of SBS? Or there was no server and users were *just* getting email via pop3 to various clients (phones, outlook, etc) and there was no Exchange involved before SBS 2011?

"but this would surely not affect the email account password would it"

This implies that you'd expect the blackberry to be pulling mail from the mail host, not from your server. So these devices are still popping from another location? Which server is the blackberry attempting to pop from. I can make a deduction from the above statement, but I hate to assume.


----

Now, even without that information, I can tell you a few things:

1) Pop3 is *not* a good shared-device protocol. By shared device, I mean a user that may have a desktop, a laptop, and a phone, not to mention a tablet, etc. POP3 is actually a pretty terrible protocol overall these days, considering its age and the evolution of the net.

2) By default, pop3 clients delete mail off the server once they retrieve messages. So, back to it being a terrible shared-device protocol...if device A gets the message, it gets deleted from the server so device B can't get that same message. It's already been cleared.  Whoops.

3) If you change the default (some, but not all, clients allow this) then you end up with the potential that NO messages get deleted from the server. Even if you delete the message from your device (say you got a message on your blackberry and delete it) that only tells that device to trash its local copy. That "delete" request is not pushed back up to the server because POP3 doesn't support such a request. So the messages stack up on the server until the mailbox is full, and you get *new* and fun problems.

4) The above can be alleviated by having all but one device leave messages on the server. That one device will delete the messages whenever *it* retrieves them. But now you introduce a race condition. It is possible that a message comes into the mail host right after Device A checked, but right before Device B checked. If Device B is the one "responsible" for deleting messages, Device A never gets the message and you get an odd inconsistency. Or worse, the user thinks they are losing messages.

And finally:

5) The pop3 connector on SBS *always* deletes messages and this cannot be changed.
----

Okay, so that is why you shouldn't be using pop3 on your blackberries, or any mail client for that matter. Full stop. Plan on moving off of pop3 *AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.*

What do you do instead?

Well, the first step is to resolve the annoyance of pop3 being an all-or-nothing delete situation. As I said, don't use it. What should you use instead? Well, most modern mail clients support a protocol called "Exchange ActiveSync" (EAS) including BlackBerry 10, Android, iOS (for apple fans, etc.) Set up these devices to connect to YOUR exchange server, not the mail host. Any client using EAS will be "in sync" and a message deleted on one device will see that message deleted on all devices. It solves all of the problems above.

For people who still have older blackberry devices, Exchange also supports IMAP. Again, instead of popping messages from the mail host, have them sync via IMAP to your Exchange server. You get most of the benefits of EAS (not all, but most) and broader support for older mail clients.

And lastly, this final bit is not required, but strongly suggested:

I'd recommend configuring your server to receive email directly. This is how SBS (actually Exchange in general) was designed to work. Instead of mail getting delivered to a mail host and then getting popped by  SBS, SBS will just receive the messages directly. There are other limitations to POP3 that this solution solves. As an example, BCC messages will seem to "disappear" if you use pop3. BCC can't be delivered via POP3 because of how BCC works, and is an inherent limitation of the 30+ year old protocol. It is *NOT* a limitation of Exchange or SBS. You also eliminate a failure point where a corrupt message can cause the pop3 connector to crash, or an incorrect password stops popping messages from the mail provider. Less moving parts means higher reliability.

The pop3 connector was meant to help businesses with a new SBS server migrate from a hosted/workgroup network to hosting their own mail. It was never meant to be left in place as a permanent solution and using it as such will only cause more problems and confusion down the road.

Hope all of this helps.

-Cliff
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Author Comment

by:floyd197
ID: 39752264
Sorry, There was no exchange server before. Email was delivered using pop3 in
Outlook Express (Windows XP) Email has worked on the phones after the installation of the
server. In fact one of the users only noticed it stop after he changed the login password
for the network (not his email account password). I think or assume the Blackberry is pulling email from the account at the domain hosting company.

Thanks for the detailed Answer. Let me know if you need any more info.
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Author Comment

by:floyd197
ID: 39759706
That is what the pop connector is doing at the minute. The major problem is the phones.
Given the info above what are the steps so that the phone connects to the server.

Thanks
0
 

Author Comment

by:floyd197
ID: 39760103
Have Blackberry 8520 on pay as you go and setup a months email/internet access.
Have a test sbs 2011 server set up - with 1 pop account setup. Really need to help to get this
test phone to connect.

Thanks
0
 

Author Comment

by:floyd197
ID: 39810013
Found the setting to get the Blackberry to collect mail from the server. Now seems
to be working ok.
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