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Outlook clients very slow & stop responding

Posted on 2004-04-13
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Last Modified: 2010-04-11
I am experiencing a problem with Outlook clients, using Microsoft Exchange Server (SBS2000 & Outlook XP / 2000 clients).

Outlook regularly runs very slowly and often hangs. I think it seems to be down to a problem communicating with the Exchange server as we often get the message "...Outllook is trying to retrieve information from ExchangeServer..."

To give you some background information, we have recently installed a 2wire broadband router onto our network, and also a second network card into the Exchange server for VPN access - The problem seems to have occurred, or at least got worse since we did this.

We have tryed various different DNS settings on client and server to no avail, so unless anyone has any specific instructions, we don't think it is to do with that.

We really are quite baffled and running out of ideas, so would be most grateful for any suggestions.

Both the clients and the server should be up to date with windows updates etc.

Thanks,
Phil.
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Question by:the_enigma7
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Expert Comment

by:peakpeak
ID: 10812067
If many clients are simultaneously getting this message it's probably the server that is heavily loaded.
When a client get the message check the CPU and process load on the server and also the memory consumption on the Store process. Maybe you need to add memory on the server. Check the that page file is on a disk that has enough spare capacity.
I'd also recommend to temporarily disable the VPN network card on the server to see if the behaviour changes. If you run any VPN software on the server or any program that is not cruical, stop them too.

Regards
Peter

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Expert Comment

by:enkrypter
ID: 10819373
I'd nix that VPN stuff in the bud now.  Exchange has enough problems without throwing in other things on top of it.  Keep it simple...

As for you problem, Peakpeak had some good ideas.  I would also look into physical problems as well.  Check the port status on the switch it is on.  I had problems like this before when the NIC in the exchange server had problems auto negotiating it's speed with the switch it was connected to.  I had to lock down the interface.

Also, make sure you have all exchange service packs and outlook/office service packs as well.
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Expert Comment

by:tancy1
ID: 10820717
1. check your disk volumes where MTA located.
2. change your clients NIC configuration instead of using 100MBps Full Duplex
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Author Comment

by:the_enigma7
ID: 10821486
Thanks for your comments.

Disk volume is OK, have recently cleared a load of stuff off the drive for that reason. Processor usage is fine. Memory usage does appear a bit high, but should still be OK.

My problem is, I can't really disable the VPN to test, as it is a remote connection to a clients server - something that...
A) We need and B) means if we disable it, we can't try any other fixes!

I do probably need to double-check service packs etc. I have just had a quick look, but couldn't see where I find what service pack exchange is up to? I will also double check which drive the page file is on.

Sorry to be a pain, but please treat me like an idiot! - "change your clients NIC configuration instead of using 100MBps Full Duplex" and "I had to lock down the interface". What exactly do you mean by that?

Thanks for all your comments.
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Expert Comment

by:enkrypter
ID: 10822709
It means that network cards negotiate their speeds and duplex from the switch they are connected to.  An interface is just short for Network Interface Card.  Most NICs can run at either 10mbps or 100mbps.  They also negotiate their duples, half or full.  Sometimes a NIC has trouble with this and what happens is it tries to negotiate a set of values, like 10/half, and then moments later thinks something is not right so it tries to renegotiate 100/full.  This is called flapping. The link will flap up and down while the NIC is negotiating it's speed and duplex, meaning all network connectivity is lost for a brief moment.  This happens all the time on networks and is usualy not noticed, but I have had several instances where this can affect performance.  Sometimes the NIC will never make up iot mind about what it is supposed to be running at.  So, you need to make up it's mind for it, but telling it to be a certain speed and duplex.

I have also seen switches that can't handle a lot of traffic.   try pringing your exchange server repeatedly with large packets.
THis will let you see how your network is handling large packets and data transfer.  See if it drops any.
ex.
ping exchange.server -t -l 4599
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Author Comment

by:the_enigma7
ID: 10823701
OK enkrypter - if I were to give this a try, what do you reccommend I set it to - bearing in mind it is on a 10mbps network? And do I change this on the internal comms network card or the external comms card, or both?

The switch should be fine. Before we enabled the VPN we had very few issues with outlook running slowly.

Also, As an update, the page file is on a drive which has oodles of free space.

Thanks,
Phil
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Author Comment

by:the_enigma7
ID: 10873266
An update on this problem - I disabled the second network card (that was used for external Ip for VPn connection). This solved the outlook problem,

Question is - where do i go from here - it was an old network card that was being used for the second card - could it be as simple as a hardware problem or could it be mroe complicated than this - is replacing the network card the first logical step or is there more to it than this?

Thanks
Phil
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Accepted Solution

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peakpeak earned 300 total points
ID: 10875572
I'm glad to see that my hunch about the extra card was correct and that you've solved it.  Don't use more than one network card in the Exchange server. If your VPN solution need a card of its own then put the VPN on a separate machine (musn't be a heavy duty server, might work with a simple workstation). Exchange is so complex in itself (1 000 000 lines of code) that any additional software might disturb it's delicate operations.
Regards
Peter
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Author Comment

by:the_enigma7
ID: 10876076
Hmm, ok, in which case, is it possible to implement a VPN solution which will give me access to all the PC's on the network - like I have at present, with only one network card?

My experience is that with only one network card, you can only get access to the single machine with which the VPN connection is made.

The problem I have is that the system I need to connect to has 3 servers hosting 3 different applications - an IP telephony server, a web based MSSQL database solution + file store server, and the exchange server. I need access to all 3 via VPN, but at the same time, I don't think I can put up with the performance degradation shown by Exchange on either of the other two servers performing the other functions.

Am I likely to suffer such performance loss on the other servers, or is it just that exchange is so delicate?

Sorry, I realise I may be branching this question out a bit, but I have increased the points total accordingly - Peakpeak, I will make sure you get a share of the points, when this question is finally closed!

Many thanks again for everyones comments.
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Expert Comment

by:peakpeak
ID: 10876472
I have no idea what VPN solution you use, the question itself is a 500-point one. Pleaxe close this one and start fresh off a new one regarding the VPN according to Expert Exchange spec.
Regards
Peter
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Author Comment

by:the_enigma7
ID: 10876512
Point taken Peter (and points given too!!). Is there any reason why i cannot refer back to this question from my new question?
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LVL 28

Expert Comment

by:peakpeak
ID: 10876552
I'm sure you can but a new readers probably would appreciate all details in one place. Copy, paste and edit.
Thanks for the points.
Regards
Peter

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