Remove-ActiveSyncDevice returns an error – Couldn’t find User as a recipient

Today’s blog post comes from another interesting find about Exchange Management Shell and removal of active sync devices. A lot of customers I know prefer to keep their active sync devices clean. If an employee does not use an active sync device more than few days, they simply remove it. Removing these devices periodically is indeed done through some or the other kind of automation techniques. A whole lot of people use powershell to do that.

At one of such customers, they were seeing errors while removing old active sync devices.


Running Remove-ActiveSyncDevice returns errors stating it Couldn’t find <user identity> as a recipient or The ActiveSyncDevice <DeviceIdentity> cannot be found. Both errors would look like below:


Couldn’t find ‘exchange.local/New Delhi/SomeLocaion/User1’ as a recipient.

    + CategoryInfo          : InvalidArgument: (:) [Remove-ActiveSyncDevice], RecipientNotFoundException

    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : 3DAABD9F,Microsoft.Exchange.Management.Tasks.RemoveMobileDevice


The ActiveSyncDevice exchange.local/New Delhi/SomeLocation/User1/ExchangeActiveSyncDevices/SAMSUNGGTI9100

§SAMSUNG1818901812 cannot be found.

    + CategoryInfo          : NotSpecified: (2:Int32) [Remove-ActiveSyncDevice], ManagementObjectNotFoundException

    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : 1C3255A8,Microsoft.Exchange.Management.Tasks.RemoveMobileDevice


Assume that you have created a mailbox named User1 in an OU exchange.local/New Delhi/SomeLocation. After creation of this mailbox the user was allowed to configure his active sync device. After successful activation, the user account stayed at that location for a while.

Due to some requirements or the change in user’s location or company, you move this user account to another OU using ADUC. While user account is moved, all subsequent objects of the user object in AD are also moved along.

When an active sync device activation process starts, exchange creates an active sync device object under user object in AD and this object also gets moved along the user account when a user account movement happens.

When you run Remove-ActiveSyncDevice using EMS, EMS looks for the object at two common places. The first place is the object entry in user’s mailbox as shown in below figure. ExchangeSyncData object in user’s mailbox (inside mailbox database) contains all the active and non active EAS devices the mailbox has ever synchronized with. In this example the device name is AirSync-SAMSUNGGTN7100-SEC160xxxxx


The second place is in AD right under the user object associated with the mailbox. You can see this association using ADSIEDIT or LDP.exe


Like I said, when you move a user account to another OU, these EAS device objects also get moved along with it changing the identity of the object. However, when powershell queries this device it does not really query the device object in AD but in mailbox (Show in first figure) and tries to locate the device object in AD against the path it retrieved by querying the information received from object in mailbox. Since you have already moved the user object to a different location using ADUC, exchange is not really aware of what has happened and is unable to update this data back in respective user mailbox in database and returns those errors.


Locate the EAS object under user account in AD and remove it using ADSIEDIT and remove an associated object in database by using MFCMAPI


If a user has multiple devices partnered with his mailbox it can be very difficult to find out which one to delete. A way to find out a device object that is to be deleted, you can use following steps:

1. Run Get-ActiveSyncDevice –Mailbox “User1”

2. Make a note of Identity and LastSuccessSync for all the devices.

3. Open MFCMAPI and navigate to the screen shown in first figure.

4. Expand each device or appropriate device you identified in mailbox and select SyncStatus

You should see some properties like show below:


PR_LOCAL_COMMIT_TIME and PR_LAST_MOFICATION_TIME are two props which should help you determining which device to delete.


Note: These steps are not for someone who does not know how to use MFCMAPI and ADSIEDIT and that the only reason steps are outlined in very high level. If you have questions or need help, you can feel free to drop me a note.