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Old 10-11-2005, 06:43 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2007
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Default TIP: Solutions for ActiveSync significantly slowing down Windows

At BrightHand, PPCT and microsoft.public.pocketpc.activesync, people (including me) have been posting reports of ActiveSync (AS) significantly slowing down the desktop Windows.

ActiveSync, which is always running, has significant CPU usage even if it doesn't do anything. (If it does, for example, actively synchronizing stuff or, when the PDA actively accesses the Internet through the AS Internet sharing, the CPU usage significantly increases. The same happens if files are transferred through AS. This is perfectly acceptable, unlike the high CPU usage when AS doesn't do anything.)

Some quantitive results of CPU usage to illustrate the point:

P4 2 GHz: 9%
Athlon 1.8 GHz: about 7-8%
P4 3.2 GHz, WinXP Pro SP2: about 0.5%
PIII 450 MHz, AS 3.8 and 4.0, WinXP Pro SP1 and SP2 (measured on two PC's): about 8-9% with both configurations
2.4GHz PIV/Win2k Pro: between 0 and 1%

This means that, in the worst case, AS can waste as much as 9-10% of your CPU cycles your desktop computer will become significantly slower if AS is running in the background, even when it doesn't do anything.

Incidentally, as can clearly be seen, it can't be plainly stated 'high-end desktop computers won't have slowdown problems because of AS' the situation is far more complicated. See for example the case of the 2GHz P4, which still suffers from 9% AS CPU usage. Therefore, if you own a very fast computer, you still may want to check out how much CPU cycles are wasted by AS.

How can you find out how much CPU AS on your Windows computer wastes?

It's pretty easy: on most Windows versions (screenshot shown on XP), just press Ctrl-Alt-Del once (pressing it twice may result in prompt rebooting on older Windows systems like Win98!), switch to the Processes tab, make sure the processes are sorted by their name (so that you can easily find wcescomm.exe ) by clicking Image Name just over at the list. Now, scroll down to wcescomm.exe :

Scrutinize the number shown in the CPU column for at least 10-15 seconds. If the (rough) average of the values shown is significantly more than 0 (say, around 6-10%), then, you should read on; otherwise (if it's around 0%), you may want to choose not to bother.

What can be done to stop this?

There're several methods of combatting this problem.

Please note that, contrary to what some people say, switching AS to manual synchronization (Options/Schedule/Desktop Schedule switched to Manually) won't help wasted CPU cycles will remain. You can't switch off your PDA either while it's connected to your Windows desktop it'll wake up after five minutes (even if you switch to manual scynchronization).

Therefore, you have the following choices to reduce the CPU load to 0%:

The worst choices

- remove the PDA from the cradle (absolutely the worst you can do)
- unplug the USB cable from your desktop computer when it's not needed (slightly better choice, especially if the plug is easily reachable)

A better choice

In the above-shown Task Manager, click the End Process button while wcescomm.exe is highlighted and click Yes. This will make sure the process is killed. Then, when you want to restart AS (to, say, make a resynchronization or an application install), just go to Start Menu/Programs and just click Microsoft ActiveSync to restart it.

The best choices

These are all free applications that stop and/or (re)start AS.

KillSync: this stopped both AS 4.0 and 3.8 in my tests without problems. It isn't able to restart AS, however; to avoid doing that, you may want to use Resync. That is, you'll need to execute KillSync to stop and Resync to start the AS connection.

I've also tested ActiveSync Toggle (tested version: V1.0.2.1).

It had problems with AS 4.0: it was never been able to close AS 4.0. First, even when I swicthed my PDA off, it reported it being still switched on. Of course, deactivating the by default enabled "Don't disable if PDA is connected" helped this. After deactivating this checkbox, it was able to shut down wcescomm.exe of AS 4.0; however, after this, it still reported and the main window still didn't allow for restarting the application. That is, it can only be used to kill wcescomm.exe ; you'll still need to restart AS in the Start menu.

With AS 3.8, it wasn't able to kill the process with disabled "Don't disable if PDA is connected"; with leaving it in its default enabled state and switching off the PDA manually, it worked just OK, in both directions. That is, with AS 3.8 (and previous versions), you may want to use it.
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Old 11-05-2005, 09:58 AM
5000+ Posts? I Should OWN This Site!
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,067

Posted a major update to this tutorial here, in my PPCMag Expert blog.
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