Problems Connecting to Your Device / Google Servers (Cerberus)
What causes Cerberus not to "see" your device? Or the infamous "can't connect to Google Servers" message?
IMPORTANT! I am *NOT* referring to the inability to EVER connect to Google Servers. I am talking about RANDOM problems of not being able to connect.
My friend and I went on a trip together to my relative's house located in a different city from where I live. As soon as we arrived on Friday evening, we obtained the WIFI password, and logged on to the local WIFI. We both surfed the net on our phones and chatted with friends through various chat services like Viber, and FaceBook Messenger.
On Sunday, out of curiosity, we each logged in from a computer to our Cerberus account to verify that Cerberus could see our phones at the correct location in this city.
I was shocked to see that my phone had not been available (connected to Cerberus) since Friday evening, when I first arrived. Yet his phone was available as of the previous few minutes.
Two phones, same location, same circumstances, same installation type of Cerberus (installed as system app), both Android but one stopped connecting to Cerberus (Google Servers) while the other one stayed connected the entire weekend.
Then mysteriously, we checked again in the afternoon, and my phone had made connection with the servers earlier that morning, yet I did NOTHING different with my phone, and I did not notice that my phone did anything (I didn't reboot, reset anything, etc.).
From what I have been able to find, "connecting to Google Servers" is actually part of the Android/Google development program for "making a connection to Google Cloud Messaging (or GCM)".
Although lack of connection is always blamed on "you are not connected to the Google Servers", the developer page located at (https://developers.google.com/cloud-messaging/gcm) states that it is the *APP* that makes the connection to GCM.
Register to enable GCM. A client app registers to receive messages.
But that is as far as I can get. Trying to look up "what does it mean to not be connected to google servers" and similar search phrases, points me to users that have permanent connection issues — completely opposite to the here-and-there lack of connection that I have experienced.
I emailed Cerberus with this information and asked them for an explanation about why two phones sitting next to each other, are not both connected to Cerberus.
Although I haven't heard from Cerberus as I continue to write this post, I do remember one issue in which my daughter's phone had a different date and time than the correct time … as well as an entry on the web of the same thing. This was preventing her from accessing Google Play.
One other thing I forgot to suggest–make sure the date and time on the device match the network time as exactly as you can.
I don't know if that is related to the Google "servers" connection issue, but it seems slightly related.
Also on the internet in the various help forums are comments to remove all battery saving apps if you are experiencing trouble with connection issues. I had a batter saving app (GSAM) installed on her phone and removed it — although I don't notice any change.
Here is another case where things "just don't add up". This screenshot shows the Cerberus Control Panel for my phone. It shows that it has not seen my phone since 11:34am (screenshot taken late afternoon).
I went to the Settings page for "accounts" and checked my Google email account setting.
First, notice the RED arrow. It is pointing to the WIFI connection, which shows blue, as if I am connected to the Google Servers.
Second, notice "Sync error" under my email address, and the green arrow at the bottom, with the warning: "Sync is currently experiencing problems. It will be back shortly".
I pressed the "sync now" button, and everything sync'ed … and the warning disappeared. But Cerberus never saw a change.
So I wanted to make sure that I was logged into Playstore as I read that Playstore can have an effect on the "google servers" issue.
I am logged in, Playstore knows what is installed and what I recently updated. So why doesn't Cerberus see me?
Logged in to Cerberus on my phone and looked for the "log".
So here is what I see: From 12:20pm to 12:28, Cerberus tried to register for "GCM" (Google Cloud Management, aka "google servers"), but was not successful.
Then at 12:31, Cerberus tried again and was successful in registering for GCM. I'm guessing my 12:31 time is actually 11:31a on the control panel.
Then at 16:47, my phone received a "connect" message and a "start tracking" message from the web panel. But the CERBERUS CONTROL PANEL never changed the "last seen" date or time.
The next day, October 11, I logged back into the Cerberus Control Panel. My last seen date had been updated but still appeared on the previous day. I noticed that Cerberus began flashing, and indicated that my phone was "connected" … and the date and time of "last seen" changed to the current date and time.
As I started these comments, it just doesn't "add up" … Cerberus only tried to register a few times and then appeared to "give up". On the other hand, the Google "sync error" was strange, because it immediately sync'ed when I pressed the "sync now" button. Prior to that, it hadn't sync'ed in a few hours.
I don't know enough about the use of "google servers" or "GCM" to understand why these issues occur. I do know that when Cerberus "works", it "works well"!
….. as long as you can get through the "can't communicate with your device" messages!
Addendum: There are two apps on the playstore that Cerberus suggests to help eliminate (or at least, reduce) this message. PNF (root) and PNF (non-root). Push Notification Fixer apparently helps to make the connection to Google Cloud Management (GCM) which are the "Google servers" indicated in the error message. I have installed the "root" version and am experimenting with it currently.
Here is another log from a different phone. On November 9, at 5:18pm, Cerberus attempted to register with Google Servers (GCM), but received an error each time and did not connect. Then at 5:34p, Cerberus was able to make a connection and notify the web panel that the device was "seen".
I have also noticed that when the target phone is on DATA (rather than WIFI), there is a GREATER chance that it will not connect to Google Servers and allow you to access the Cerberus commands. I have pondered whether having a slow connection "EDGE" or "G" on the phone (instead of faster 3g) also makes a difference. My testing is all in SE Asia, so I can't speak for any other areas.