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Apple working on fix for iOS 6.1 bug that's choking Exchange servers

John Cox | Feb. 15, 2013
Apple users still reporting battery life and Wi-Fi problems after 6.1 update.

"This can occur with iOS 6.1 and Microsoft Exchange 2010 SP1 or later, or Microsoft Exchange Online (Office365)," according to Apple.

Apple released iOS 6.1.1 version this week but that has a specific target: It "fixes an issue that could impact cellular performance and reliability for iPhone 4S."

For over two weeks, some users have reported that once updated, their iDevices now quickly drain the battery. Other users complained that their iDevices wouldn't connect over Wi-Fi or, if they did, quickly and repeatedly disconnected. Yet despite the litany of online complaints, it's difficult to tell how widespread these problems are among the total number of 6.1 updaters.

On the enterprise side, the heavy transaction logging on Exchange surfaced quickly for some companies.

"It may be a fluke, but something to watch for...," wrote Bobby Pendino, senior Microsoft Exchange administrator with Zachry Holdings, posting Jan. 31 at Microsoft Technet. One Zachry Apple user upgraded to 6.1 and "immediately after he finished, his phone/iPad started causing excessive logging on the Exchange server....His device caused over 50GB worth of logs for that particular database."

In a later post, Pendino added: "Had another one upgrade their phone and now their phone won't authenticate. Another iPad was updated, and it says it's connected but doesn't retrieve any data. Thanks Apple!"

The Exchange glitch was not a fluke. Based on similar posts, and direct contacts with other IT managers, Tony Redmond, who writes the Windows IT Pro blog, "Tony Redmond's Exchange Unwashed," wrote a week later about instances of "excessive transaction log generation after iOS 6.1 devices are introduced into Exchange 2010 or Exchange 2007 environments. I assume the same is true for Exchange 2013 as the underlying cause is likely to be in Apple's mail app code that calls ActiveSync to synchronize with a user's Exchange mailbox, with some indications being that the problem is once again associated with calendar events."

The Microsoft support posting for Exchange confirms that this problem can and has developed, and that Microsoft and Apple are partnering to sort it out. But IT managers at a half-dozen companies and universities say that, while they're tracking these reports, for the most part these problems have not affected their users or networks.

The only one of this group to notice possible Exchange issues is Boston Scientific Corp., a leading medical device manufacturer based in Boston. It has more than 5,300 corporate iPads and 1,000 personally owned iPads, with some percentage in the process of upgrading to iOS 6.1. "There's been no rash of problems but the Exchange group has issued an advisory around iOS 6.1," says Rich Adduci, the company's CIO. "I don't think we've seen a ton of issues here, but definitely have had some reports, pretty inconsistent, and almost all tied to accepting or declining Outlook meetings using an iOS device," he says.


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