Pickup folder implications

Earlier this year, I installed a new Exchange server and moved all mailboxes etc from the old to the new. Everything worked fine. However, I couldn't take the old one down, because it had a critical function in our business: Without it, customers can't place orders through our web site.

Here's why -- as far as I understand it after some investigation (am no good at Exchange or HTML code, have no documentation about the the servers in question, and no contact with the guy who set this up):

When somebody makes an order through our web site, a text file is placed in the Pickup directory on the old server. There are some code in the web site which (as I read it) says: Place text file [the order] in \\OLD\Pickup. Then two things happen: 1) The customer get a confirmation, 2) the order is placed in a mailbox (and the order disappears form Pickup directory.

If I change the code to say: Place text file in \\NEW\Pickup -- the order is put in Pickup folder on NEW Exchange server when a customer makes an order, but nothing more happens, it just sits there.

Now, I don't know what it is that makes this play on OLD server, but not on NEW. I've search for scripts and settings at OLD server and at web server, but found nothing. I've also tried to read up on Pickup folder as such, but it's still very dim to me what it is for.

Help much appreciated.
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Richard QuadlingSenior Software DeveloperCommented:
Hi DiamondJoe,

I would download System Internals Process Explorer and install this on the old Exchange Server.
Load Process Explorer.
On the menu choose Find.
In the Find dialogue enter the name of the folder (not necessarily the share name) and see which task is looking at the folder.

Is the new pickup folder something like ...

C:\Exchsrvr\mailroot\vs 1\Pickup


If so, this should be monitored automatically by Exchange 2000/SMEX 6.0.

For Exchange 5.5\SMEX 3.80, use



Richard Quadling.
DiamondJoeAuthor Commented:
Thanks for responding, Richard.

I ran Process Explorer on the OLD Exchange server (should've mentioned that it's Exchange 2003 on Windows Server 2003), and yes, we're talking 'bout C:\Exchsrvr\mailroot\vs 1\Pickup, and it was interesting so far.

Then you lost me... I googled for SMEX and it seems to be a commercial product, so I'm not sure what you mean with "If so, this should be monitored automatically by Exchange 2000/SMEX 6.0."

Please note that even though I've been a "System administrator" for some time, I've been an "Exchange administrator" for six months only...
Richard QuadlingSenior Software DeveloperCommented:
Ignore the SMEX bits.

On the new server, is pickup being looked at?
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DiamondJoeAuthor Commented:
I've got it focused in Process Explorer now, on both OLD and NEW server; the process is Inetinfo, and same path.
Richard QuadlingSenior Software DeveloperCommented:
InetInfo is the web service (I think).

So, the web site (probably running IIS) needs to be installed on the new server.

I don't use IIS so I can't help you there.

I also suspect that the website deals with everything you need.

DiamondJoeAuthor Commented:
I've noticed that if I put a text file or whatever in the Pickup directory on OLD server, with the right header (FROM, TO, SUBJECT), it shoots away like any e-mail.

If I do the same on NEW server, nothing happens. The file just lies there, among the orders I was talking about previously.

As far as I can see, the two servers have identical Pickup folders, and seems to have identical IIS installations too.

One thing that bothers me, is that the NEW server has OLD server as the one running Recipients Update Service... But I'm not sure that RUS has anything to do with this situation.
Richard QuadlingSenior Software DeveloperCommented:
I don't know any more. It looks like the new server has been told to NOT look at Pickup.

From the Exchange Help file ...
Mailroot Directory and Default Directories

The following default subdirectories are installed in the Mailroot directory so that Exchange can process messages. The default location of the Mailroot directory is root:\Exchsrvr\Mailroot. Each SMTP virtual server has its own folder within the Mailroot directory, and each folder contains the default subdirectories described in the table below. Vsi 1 is the folder for the default SMTP virtual server. When you create additional virtual servers, folders for vsi 2, vsi 3, and so on will be automatically created in the Mailroot directory.

Folder  Description  
Badmail  Stores undeliverable messages that cannot be returned to the sender.  
Pickup  Processes outgoing messages that are created as text files and copied to the directory. As soon as a properly formatted RFC 822 message is copied to the Pickup directory, Exchange collects it and initiates delivery.  
Queue  Holds messages for delivery. If a message cannot be delivered because the connection is busy or down, the message is stored in the queue and sent again at designated intervals.  

Note   The Queue Viewer utility provides a more detailed look at outgoing messages that are queued for delivery on your virtual server.

You cannot change the location of the Badmail, Pickup, or Queue directories through System Manager. It can only be done by configuring the metabase directly. If you do change the location of these directories, be sure to choose a location with sufficent permissions and availability. Otherwise, mail delivery will be disrupted.

On our server I can change the badmail directory, but I can't find any place for Pickup.

I don't know about RUS.

The couple of times I have tried it, the pickup folder on an Exchange server doesn't always work very well. I need to work out why, but have never got round to it.

However a pickup folder on a plain IIS server works great. Perhaps you could configure another server with just the IIS SMTP component, configure the server to send all email via your Exchange server and get the web server to drop the email on that server instead.


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DiamondJoeAuthor Commented:
I changed the code in the application to point to the local IIS Pickup folder, instead. It works!

Thank you for taking time, Simon, and saving me a lot!

/Diamond Joe

PS. Thanks to Richard too, for spending time with this issue. I really appreciate it, though the points naturally goes to Sembee.
Richard QuadlingSenior Software DeveloperCommented:
That's fair.
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