Help Android 2.2.1 play nice with Exchange Remote Wipe

Jack Wallen provides some steps to take if your company's Exchange server has the Remote Wipe feature set and your newly updated Android phone with 2.2.1 is no longer syncing.

The other day, a client came in with her brand new Android smartphone running 2.2.1. Another engineer spent the better part of an hour trying to get it to work with her Exchange account. No dice. And since I'm the Android expert in the house, it fell to me. Fortunately, it didn't take me long to realize what was going on.

You see, when the developers for Android released 2.2.1, it included a fairly significant feature that makes Android in the business world a bit more accessible but is really pissing off many Android users. I'm talking specifically about support for Exchange Remote Wipe. This feature has been around Exchange since 2003 Service Pack 2 and allows administrators to remotely wipe Exchange data from a mobile device. The iPhone has supported this feature for some time. Android, on the other hand, has been missing the functionality until 2.2.1. Well, it's here now, and if your company's server has that feature set, your Android phone will have to play nice.

The steps aren't as obvious as you might think. There isn't a setting in the account setup for this feature. In fact, after you set up your account, it might seem as if the account simply won't sync. But if you know your company's Exchange server has the Remote Wipe feature set and your newly updated Android phone is no longer syncing, here's what you do.

Delete that old account

If you already had an account set up before your phone updated to 2.2.1, delete the account. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Tap Menu | Settings | Applications
  2. Tap on the All tab
  3. Scroll down until you see Email
  4. Tap Email
  5. Tap the Clear Data button

The account is now removed.

Set up the new account

All you need to do now is set up the new account. Once it's set up and tries to sync with your Exchange server, it will prompt you to create a security PIN. It might seem like this is a PIN for screenlocking, but it's not. This is the Remote Wipe PIN and must be set in order for your Android 2.2.1 device to sync. Once that PIN is set, your Exchange account will begin syncing, and your Exchange administrator can happily and remotely wipe out your company email should you lose your phone or get fired. Isn't that a pleasant thought?

Of course, there are ways around Exchange Wipe. One way is to give Nitrodesk's TouchDown a go. If that doesn't work, you can always root your phone and install CyanogenMod ROM, which has a workaround for the Exchange Wipe requirement. Note that the latter option always offers the chance that you can brick your phone.