I like to visualize the BlackBerry server as a ‘black box’ – only because it is often difficult to figure out where the problem is. Perhaps my ignorance is to blame, or it’s just my love for the simplicity/transparency surrounding the inner workings of ActiveSync.
The other day, for instance, I was trying to activate a Blackberry Bold device. The activation kept timing out for no reason. Most of the time when this happens, one of the following usually solves the problem.
- "Wipe" the device
- Delete and re-create the user on the Blackberry server
- Do a failover (we have NeverFail for Blackberry)
- Do a full restart of the server.
But this time it was rather strange. All the above actions were in vain. So I decided to ‘troubleshoot by elimination’.
- Check if same SIM card works on another blackberry enabled device. (yes)
- Check if another user can be activated on same blackberry device with same SIM (yes)
I then deduced that there is nothing wrong with the Black Box .. er.. BlackBerry server, the device or the SIM card. "It must be something on the mailbox", I thought. But what exactly?
A quick call to our service provider, and a long wait for someone to get back to me revealed to me what I was missing — the user’s junk mail filter!
Blackberry activation involves sending an email to the user’s inbox, which would contain some kind of a hash. The user’s junk mail filter mistakenly thought that the emails from blackberry were spam and sent it to the user’s Junk Mail folder in Outlook, before the blackberry server could pick it up (from the Inbox folder) and activate the device!