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Outlook 2003/Exchange 2003, RPC over HTTP connections hang after initial sync

Posted on 2006-06-11
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Last Modified: 2007-12-19
I apologize if this question has already been answered but was unable to find any solutions where someone was experiencing RPC over HTTP problems AFTER getting it working.

I have users connecting to an Exchange 2003 server from multiple locations using Outlook 2003.  This has worked flawlessly for many months until recently.  No server changes have been made nor have any network changes.  About a week ago all of the users connecting remotely started getting many popups about "Outlook is requesting data from the server."

Upon opening Outlook, a connection is made and Outlook with sync with Exchange.  However subsequent attempts to sync result in popup messages about requesting data from server.  Soemtimes the status bar shows All folders are up to date and other times This folder is up to date.  And it will stay there indefinitely.

What I find interesting is that if you do cancel the server request, all of the RPC over HTTP connections are dropped and reestablished and Outlook again goes back in sync.  Followed again by popups about Outlook requesting data from the server.  If I also close Outlook and reopen it will sync.  The initial connections always are successful.

When looking at the Exchange Server Connection Status, the initial attempts show connections with no failures.  Req/Fail shows many failures the longer Outlook stays open.  Occasionally after very lengthy times Outlook will manage to make a successful connection and get back in sync.  

Where can I go to troubleshoot from here?  I'm so puzzled as to why this is working on the initial connection and worked so well in the past.  I can't seem to find a problem that would only allow intermittent connections.
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Question by:coralogic
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Expert Comment

by:carl_legere
ID: 16882532
slow or high latency connection on the server end?  I assume your users are using cached mode exchnage connections in this RPC via HTTPS scenario.
recent windows updates?
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Author Comment

by:coralogic
ID: 16882542
I've been watching the latency for the past few days and getting roughly 70ms response times with no packet loss.  Users are using cached mode connections.  The only recent updates would have been any automatic security updates.
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by:Sembee
ID: 16884528
How many domain controllers do you have?
Do you have both dcs listed in the registry settings?

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:coralogic
ID: 16884695
There is only one server.
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LVL 104

Expert Comment

by:Sembee
ID: 16884794
Which element in rpcdiag shows the failure? Directory or mail?

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:coralogic
ID: 16884842
Both show failures.
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LVL 104

Expert Comment

by:Sembee
ID: 16889315
Do you have any problems internally?
If you bring an RPC over HTTPS machine inside, does it work correctly?

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:coralogic
ID: 16889388
Unfortunately I don't know if the machines that are not working correctly outside work correctly inside.  There are some significant geographical distances between those machines so it's not practical to test.  However, the remote machines are in different locations and all started to experience the problems at the same time.  Machines on the inside of the network not using RPC over HTTPS work correctly.  I will be onsite with my notebook in a few weeks and can better test a connection inside the network at that point but at the moment that's a difficult test.

We have noticed that the memory on the server seems a bit taxed lately and are adding more memory tomorrow.  Would the memory on the server (or the lack of available memory more specifically) have any impact on our connection issues?  OWA seems to not have any issues so IIS appears to be working well...
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Expert Comment

by:Sembee
ID: 16889855
A server under load will not respond as quickly as it could. Therefore that could trigger some error messages while the application waits for the server to respond.

You really need to get a machine inside configure to see whether the problem is confined to external machines only. If the server under load was the problem then I would expect to see it inside as well.

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:coralogic
ID: 16889964
Perhaps I can connect to a machine remotely and configure Outlook for testing purposes.  The memory should also be on site tomorrow so I'll check performance once that is in place as well.
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Author Comment

by:coralogic
ID: 16951820
Well as it turned out the problem was all related to memory it seems...  We added more memory to the server and Outlook has no problems staying in sync now.  
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