Earlier this year, in several editions of Mobile & Wireless UPDATE, I discussed the pitfalls of Microsoft ActiveSync, software that synchronizes Pocket PCs (and other Windows CE-based devices) with desktop PCs. One particular ActiveSync annoyance is that when it fails to connect, you sometimes must shut down and restart the host PC before ActiveSync will recognize the mobile device.

While working on a follow-up column about ActiveSync (which you'll see later this year in Windows & .NET Magazine), I discovered asreboot.exe, a little-known Microsoft utility program that can stop and restart ActiveSync. You can download this tool here. (Be forewarned: The tool comes with no documentation.)

Perhaps more important, I think I've figured out how asreboot.exe works: It stops both wcesmgr.exe (the application that displays the ActiveSync window) and wcescomm.exe, a background program that doesn't automatically stop when the ActiveSync window closes.

The next time ActiveSync fails to connect, follow these steps:

1. Disconnect the mobile device and perform a soft reset.

2. Close the ActiveSync window.

3. Using either Microsoft's asreboot.exe utility or Task Manager, terminate wcescomm.exe.

4. Start ActiveSync and connect your device.