Exchange 2000 Public folder replication does not complete

Posted on 2006-04-23
Last Modified: 2008-01-09
Hello all,

I'm in the process of moving an existing Exchange 2000 SP3 (with august 2004 roll-up) which we'll call SERVER1, to a new Exchange 2000 SP3 (with august 2004 roll-up) which we'll call SERVER2.

I configured the PF to replicate to the new server.  The folders seemed to replicate fine, but only some of the content was delivered to the new server.  Then suddenly a day later, a little more content was delivered.

I have all of the diagnostic logging turned on, you can see the request and replies flowing through both servers correctly.

What I've found in troubleshooting, is that the content backfill request and other updates sit in the outbound SMTP queue on SERVER1.  If I force a connection, you can see the 87 messages (14MB of data) spool off SERVER1.  Once the size goes to zero the queue resets and all the messages are still there, almost as if SERVER2 is rejecting the transfer.  Eventually the backfill requests timeout on SERVER2, so it re-issues another request and the cycle begins again.  The recieving SERVER2 shows that SERVER1 authenticates correctly for the SMTP transfer, and I have no errors on either server.  There is nothing stuck in the SMTP queue on SERVER2.

There is no anti-virus or anti-spam on SERVER2, it's a fresh install.  I've tried disabling the anti-spam & anti-virus on the production SERVER1 server and the behavior is the same.

I've read many other posts about how replication takes weeks, but I'm only looking at 300MB or so of data.  If I could figure out why the SMTP transfer is being rejected, then maybe I can get this thing replicating. And also figure out why a transfer was sporadically allowed.

Nothing like a 8 hour migration turning into a week long process, and I'll be damned if I'll pay Micro$oft for a $500 weekend support call.

Thanks in advance.
Question by:pneeley
    LVL 104

    Expert Comment

    Exchange 2000 replication is SLOW. Very slow. And there is not a thing you can do to speed it up.
    When I replicate off an Exchange 2000 server, I start the process at least a week before, to give it time. My record before doing the migration by hand is three weeks.

    What you are seeing is perfectly normal.

    Public folder replication on Exchange 2003 is much faster - but none of the techniques that apply to Exchange 2003 can be used with Exchange 2000.

    You will just have to wait.


    Author Comment

    When you say record, was the shortest time 3 weeks to synchronize?  Or the longest was 3 weeks?

    Do you have any input on the mechanism that's not allowing the SMTP transfer from SERVER1 to SERVER2 to complete?

    Also, I have noticed that the more recent changes are the ones that seem to replicate first.

    Obviously I can export the PF to a PST.  Are there any utilities to transfer the permissions correctly?  PFMIGRATE isn't an option because we don't have a Exchange 2003 server on the network.  Although the amount of data is small (~300MB), I'm looking at hundreds of subfolders with customized rights.

    Have you contacted Microsoft in the past on this issue?  I'd be interested to hear their excuses.

    Thanks again for your input.
    LVL 18

    Expert Comment


    It took us about 5 days to replicate 60 GB of public folders and it is very slow.  What is your schedule set to?  I had to come in on a weekend and set everything to high priority to force the bulk of the replication.  While it was happening, no matter which public folder a user was pointed to, they saw nothing.

    During the week, when I had replication set to low priority but still running all the time, user problems were sporadic.  A couple of people would not be able to see public folder contents.  It would last a few minutes, and everything would appear.

    This comment is just added to provide our time results.  Our network is fiber to the desktop with only a few remote sites.


    Author Comment


    My schedule is set to the default 'always' for the PF store.  On each folder the message priority is 'urgent'.  Is this what you meant by priority?

    I could always set the PF store to every 15 min, but my concern would be the messages would just sit in the SMTP queue like they are now.  Nothing appears to have moved in the last 24 hours.

    Wow. So the exisiting PF store was inaccessible also?  I haven't moved any users yet based on the assumption the original store would be fully functional.

    LVL 104

    Expert Comment

    The longest time I have left folders to sync on their own (and it was not complete) was three weeks. At that point I gave up and migrated the content by hand.

    Public Folder replication was an acknowledged problem. There is nothing that can be done about it. It would appear to be over zealous protection of bandwidth on Microsoft's part.

    With Exchange 2003 the public folder replication problem has been sorted with tools that you can use to force the content across. I can do Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2003 public folder replication in a weekend with a high speed network. I have moved 30 or 40gb very quickly.
    pfmigrate doesn't really help with the migration off an Exchange 2000 server even if you have an Exchange 2003 server. The problem is Exchange 2000. Pfmigrate is just a script that sets the replication for you - it is no "magic" tool.

    If you can get the hierarchy across, then the permissions will follow. Then you can move the content separately.


    Author Comment


    Interesting point on the hierarchy.  My hierarchy seems to have some across.  So what you're suggesting is:

    1.  Take the new server out of the replication tab for every PF
    2.  Export content from old server
    3.  Import content on new server

    The only concern I have is many of our public folders are mail enabled.  How do I force the incoming mail to be delivered to the new server's public folders while the old server is still active during migration.

    Or would pointing SERVER1's default public store to SERVER2 solve that issue?

    LVL 104

    Expert Comment

    When I have done a manual migration of the content, it is done out of hours. That allows me to stop the SMTP traffic flow. I can then do the switch of the content and mailboxes, then switch the SMTP delivery point to the new server.

    Manual migration with mail enabled folders isn't always clean - it will take some time to settle down. Hopefully you will have an idea of your email flow and can time the change correctly.


    Author Comment

    Thanks Sembee.

    It looks like we'll be doing the migration by hand this weekend.

    Any issues with removing the source server from the replication group?  I'll export everyhting to a PST first.  I'm assuming since the heirarchy has replicated all of my rights and mail enabled folders will be correct on SERVER2?

    Or should I just delete everything on both servers and start from scratch.

    Also, when doing the migration manually, how do you handle the free/busy and offline Address Book system folders?

    Thanks again
    LVL 104

    Accepted Solution

    I would document everything - permissions etc. You cannot be too careful when doing a manual migration.

    Free/Busy is quite simple to repopulate. Once the mailboxes have been moved, ask all users to create a calendar entry in their Outlook, wait five minutes and then delete it.
    OAB generation is also quite easy - simply change the Exchange server used in Recipients, Offline Address Book.


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