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Remote Sites Cannot connect to 2003 Exchange Server.

A few weeks ago both of our Remote offices called at the same time to say that everyones outlook was saying that it was trying to retreive data. We had no problems in our main office here where our only exchange server is located. We rebooted the firewalls at all 3 of our sites but it didnt help. We then rebooted the Exchange server and everything was fine although there was nothing in the event logs to indicate a problem.

A few days ago the exact same thing happened and again there was nothing in the event logs to indicate a problem. This time we only rebooted the Exchange server and everything has been fine since.

We are trying to be proactive here and eliminate the rebooting routine. We havent made any changes to our network so this has been somewhat puzzling. All users run windows and office 2000 and XP. We appreciate any ideas you may have.  Thanks Tom
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hughixman
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hughixman
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bkinseyCommented:
How many DC's do you have, and where are they in relation to your Exchange server?  Connectivity issues with a DC (either between a client and a particular DC it's trying to use as a directory, or between the Exchange server and any of the DC's it's trying to use), can cause similar symptoms.  Check event logs on all your DC's for signs of problems, and I'd recommend running both netdiag and dcdiag on all of them as well, to find any issues that might be affecting server to server communication.

The Directory Access tab on the Exchange Server properties in Exchange System Manager will show you the DC's Exchange is looking for and using for Directory lookups, Global Catalog, etc.  Trouble reaching one of the machines in that list will definitely cause problems.

However, if the problems are only occuring at your satellite locations, I might lean more towards the client-DC connection issue.  Outlook maintains a connection to both the Exchange server and one of your DC's, and if the particular DC it wants isn't reachable from that satellite location, or has a slow connection, Outlook will drag like crazy or flat time out.  Trouble with easy diagnosis of that issue, in my experience, is that Outlook's pop-up status box tells you it's trying to retrieve data from 'Exchange Server' whatever, but then may list either the actual Exchange Server, OR the Domain Controller.  Same message, regardless of whether it's really the Exchange Server it can't reach, or the DC. . . . .

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hughixmanAuthor Commented:
currently we only have 2 DC's and the Exchange server is one of them. they are both running 2003 server. we have about 80 users here in the main office and about 10 users in the remote offices.

The remote offices dont have any dc's at this time and VPN into our main office for email and info from the file server. I will check the above items to see if that comes up with anything. One thing I also thought of was although the remote sites cant get to the exchange server here they can still access the file server here so we know the link between the sites is still working. I will update you with our findings on the other items as soon as I can run them.  thanks Tom
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hughixmanAuthor Commented:
Ran DCDAIG.exe and NETDIAG.EXE on both DC's here and there werent any errors that were reported. all tests said Passed. Maybe run these 2 tests again when the email fails and see what the results are then?   Tom
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bkinseyCommented:
Worth a shot, I suppose; configuration errors would show up now, but if something else is affecting your traffic, causing inter-server communication issues along with (or as the cascading cause of) your email issues, any errors that pop in those utils while it's going on might give you a let up on figuring things out.

Also, you said you didn't find anything in the Exchange logs; what about the logs on the other DC?  And which one of your DC's is your Global catalog server, or are both?

All of the above tackles the problem from the AD end, of course, but I guess we shouldn't neglect the networking end, either.  What kind of connections do your remote sites use?  Any sign of problems there other than the e-mail issue?  Abnormal increases in ping times or anything else?  File server traffic tends to be a little more forgiving than Outlook, in my experience, so the fact that you can still access file doesn't entirely rule out problems with the connections themselves.  Might try a traffic sniffer to root out any kind of anomolous or unnecessary traffic, if you can (although if rebooting the Exchange Server fixes the problem, it would almost have to be traffic with the mailserver itself, if the problem is traffic related. . . )

Just as a note, though it doesn't help if you're using Office 2000 and Exchange 2000, is that cached Exchange mode in 2003 is a good solution for marginal/unreliable remote network connections.
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hughixmanAuthor Commented:
I ran Replmon and both DC's are Global Catalog severs. We have DSL Here (2mb up and down) and dsl at both remote offices. for the logs we did check both DC's at each incident and it was just normal stuff. I thought for sure some things would have popped up in the logs. I have talked to users in both offices and they said things seem normal other than the 2 times they suddenly couldnt get email. I will have to wait until Monday to check on ping times as my other IT person here went home sick this am so I am the only one here.
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bkinseyCommented:
Next time it happens, if it does, definitely note (or have whoever's reporting it) the machine name Outlook is trying to receive data from.  As noted, it may be not be the Exchange server.
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hughixmanAuthor Commented:
thanks for the info. I sent an email to the remote offices to make note of this. I appreciate all of your time with this matter thus far. have a good weekend as I am off in 10 minutes.   Tom
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hughixmanAuthor Commented:
We spoke with Microsoft today and it appears that there was some problems in the last round of updates. (see MS article #898060) so they have sent us a hotfix that will hopefully resolve the issue as it happend again this am. We are applying the hotfix early tomorrow. If it doesnt fix it we will know in a week or two.   FYI Tom
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hughixmanAuthor Commented:
Well I believe I have good news that this problem hasnt reoccured since we applied the hotfix above. Since I am new to Expert Exchange how do I Accept answers if the fix is somewhat different as in this case. I dont want people to loose out on points so I wanted to be sure to do this the right way. Do I simply pick the response that most closely matches the solution? Thanks Tom
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hughixmanAuthor Commented:
Hi,
  In regards to my question above from June 24th, how do I proceed as the issue was resolved with a special hotfix from MS. I still was unsure what is the correct way to do points if the solution is different than the suggestions. thanks Tom
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DarthModCommented:
PAQed with points (500) refunded

DarthMod
Community Support Moderator
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