Friday, 10 June 2011

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SolutionBase: Techniques you can use to troubleshoot your BlackBerry

A good IT manager will, if you asked, probably tell you thatone of the most challenging aspects of managing new IT professionals is theability to properly convey the basic principles of troubleshooting and applythem to an actual situation. With the growing popularity of BlackBerry devices,troubleshooting these handheld devices present new challenges. With a basicunderstanding of the steps involved in setting up the device, troubleshooting astop along the way should be that much easier. In this article I will discusssome of the common problems that can occur when a user is setting is aBlackBerry device and how they can quickly be resolved.

Troubleshooting the Wireless Network

Obviously, a BlackBerry is very much dependent on thestrength of the wireless signal. As with wired network troubleshooting, one ofthe first things you usually do is check the connection. This rule also appliesto BlackBerry devices. The strength of the signal will indicate to you whetherthe device is able to send and receive data. A user can check the signalstrength using the steps listed below:
  1. Turn on the BlackBerry device.
  2. From the Home screen, click the Options icon.
  3. From the Options screen, click Status.
  4. The Status screen will appear.
  5. Check the value listed in the Signal field.
The connection strength should be less than 100dBm. A valuehigher than this would indicate a weak wireless signal and could therefore becausing communication problems.
If the signal strength is not the cause of any problems, youcan have the user check the network settings configured on the BlackBerry.Incorrect network settings can result in the handheld device being unable tosend and receive data on the wireless network. To verify the settings, instructthe user to click Options from the Home screen and then select Network. Clickthe Scan for Networks options to check that the device is configured to run onthe correct network.

Troubleshooting Wireless Activation

There are a number of problems that can occur during thewireless activation. One of the ways that the Enterprise Activation program canbe initiated is by using the related icon on the Home screen of the BlackBerrydevice. If Enterprise Activation icon is not available from Home screen on yourBlackBerry, verify the version of software you are running. This featurerequires BlackBerry Wireless Handheld Software Version 4.0 If you are runningthe correct version, the icon is more than likely not available because youhave already performed the enterprise activation.
Once you complete the Enterprise Activation, the icon isremoved from the BlackBerry's home screen. However, you can still find theprogram from the list of Options.
It is possible for users to receive an error message afterentering the activation password. The message will likely say "Pleaseenter a valid password". The cause of this problem is that the user hasentered in the incorrect activation password. Have the user enter in thecorrect password.
In order to run the Enterprise Activation program on ahandheld, the radio must be turned on. If it is not, the following message willappear when the user attempts wireless activation:
Activation request failed, your radio is off
When the Application Loader is run, the handheld radio isautomatically turned off. You can resolve the problem by having the user turnthe handheld radio back on and launch the Enterprise Activation program again.
Another problem a BlackBerry user may encounter during thewireless activation process is that the program stops responding. However, thisis a little more difficult to troubleshoot since it can be caused for a numberof reasons including:
  • Unknown reasons
  • Incorrect email address
  • Incorrect activation password
  • A service book is corrupt
Part of troubleshooting problems that can creep up duringthe wireless enterprise activation is identifying where in the process theproblem is occurring.
During the activation process, encryption keys aregenerated. For unknown reasons, the process may stop responding at this point.The BlackBerry user should cancel the activation process, verify that thehandheld radio is turned on and then retry.
Before the activation process begins, the BlackBerry usermust type in their corporate email address and the wireless activation passwordgiven to them by an administrator. If the user does not type in the correctinformation, the activation program will halt and in some cases, maybe evenhang.
You can verify the user's email address from the BlackBerryManager on the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). Open the BlackBerry Managerand click Server. From the User List tab, right click the appropriate user andselect Properties. Using the information on the General tab, verify that theemail address being typed in by the user matches the email address listed. Asfor an incorrect password, you can have the user retype the password or you canreset it on the BES.
Another problem that may be encountered is the desktopservice book becomes corrupt, causing the wireless enterprise activationprocess to stop responding. Instruct the user to delete the Desktop servicebook from the BlackBerry and retry the activation program. The service book canbe deleted by clicking Options from the Home screen and the selecting ServiceBook. Select Desktop (SYNC) and click Delete. The user can then return to theHome screen and start the Enterprise Activation process again.

Troubleshooting a Wired BlackBerry Connection

If a user is unable to use wireless activation for settingup their BlackBerry, they will require a wired connection. One of the firstthings you should instruct a user to do if they encounter problems is toconfirm that the connection between the BlackBerry device and their computer.
A user can easily accomplish this by checking that thehandheld device is properly connected to the cradle and that the cradle isproperly connected to the computer. If they close and reopen the BlackBerryDesktop Manager on their computer, it should indicate that the device has beendetected.

Troubleshooting Email Problems

Email issues can be caused for several different reasons.After you have checked the wireless network connections and network settings,make sure the correct redirector settings have been configured. If a BlackBerryEnterprise Server is this email redirection must be selected.
You can also instruct the user to try sending a test messagefrom their email account. If the message is successfully sent, it will verifythat the mail server is not the cause of the problem.

Other Helpful Hints

Many Problems with a BlackBerry can be resolved byperforming a reset. For example, if the screen is frozen try performing a softreset by pressing the [ALT][CAP][DELETE] keystrokes. If this does not resolvethe issue, you instruct the user to try doing a hard reset by pressing thesmall RESET button located on the BlackBerry device and the device willrestart. You will probably need a pin or other small object to press the RESETbutton.
A user may encounter problems when they attempt tosynchronize their handheld with their PC. First, verify that the handheld andcradle are properly connected. On the computer, make sure that MicrosoftOutlook is set as the default email client. You can also check the Intellisyncsettings through the Desktop Manager software using the steps listed below:
  1. Verify the handheld is connected to the cradle.
  2. Open the Desktop Manager application.
  3. Double click the Intellisync icon. The Intellisync window appears.
  4. From the Intellisync dialog box, click Configure PIM. Select the application check boxes you want to synchronize.
  5. Verify the applications that are being synchronized.
For troubleshooting purposes, it is also useful to know howto reregister a BlackBerry device on the network. From the Home screen, clickOptions and select Network. Press the trackwheel and select Register Now.

Follow the basic rules of troubleshooting

As you can see, there are many problems a user can encounterwhen using a BlackBerry device. However, troubleshooting is solving aproblem. It doesn't matter whether it'sa handheld problem, computer problem, or a car problem: it's still troubleshooting. Here's the numberone rule for troubleshooting: use thescientific method (the process of elimination) and have at least a passing familiarity with BlackBerry devices.

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