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Outlook is trying to retrieve data from the Exchange Server . . . .

I have seen numerous questions and commentary on this message showing up in Outlook, but I have seen no clear cut response or solution.   Two years ago, we upgraded to Outlook 2003 and Exchange 2000 and have a constant issue with slow response to opening email, deleting email and generally using Outlook which creates an exclamation point over the Outlook Icon in the tray, and shows the message, Outlook is trying to retrieve data.  

We have a dedicated Exchange Server with 2 gigs of memory serviing less than 15 users.  Does anyone know what the underlying problem is with these types of connectivity issues.  Many times, Outlook shows a white screen and the desktop is non responsive.

Your thoughts would be appreciated.  My IT people have tried to fix this for the past two years to no avail.  
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1 Solution
There is no clear cut solution to this problem, because the cause can be any number of things.

This usually comes down to issues with the Exchange server, or issues with the domain controller.
Outlook 2002 (XP) was more helpful in this regard as you could tell which one was causing the problem based on the error message.

You haven't really said enough about the environment to diagnose further.

Single server (ie everything on one box) or multiple servers (dedicated Exchange server for example).
Is Exchange on a domain controller?
Anything else installed on the domain controller? Antivirus etc?
Sometimes it can be as simple as the AV hasn't been configured correctly and is scanning the Exchange directories (which it shouldn't).

fcarmeldcAuthor Commented:
Multi Server Environment

Primary Server is Exchange which runs Exchange and is our Domain Name Server and provides DHCP.  Most of our IP addresses are statically assigned however.

Exchange also runs SQL 2000, GFI Mailarchiver, Symantec Antivirus and has Backup Exec installed but is not being used on that server.  We also have Sunbelt Remote Admin on all machines for access by IT.

We have a separate File Server (Local) that serves as storage, as a dedicated database server for our Case Management Software and a few other programs are installed including Symantec and Remote Admin.  It should be noted that originally this was our Domain Name Server and provided DHCP to the workstations.

We have a small fax server and an old server that we use for BackupExec and a Scanner Program that works with our Ricoh Copier/Scanner. The Backup Exec backs up to a 400g LTO drive late at night when the server is not active.   We also have an Avaya Phone Server which is on our network.  All of these machines have RAdmin and Symantec.

We have a Netgear Switch hooking everything together.  All servers have 2 gigs of Ram and lots of storage.

All machines are running Windows 2000 Advanced Server, MS Exchange Server 2000 and Sql Server 2000.

Primary software in the office is:

MS Office
Adobe Acrobat
DeltaView Comparewrite
3 custom designed Access Database Programs
Scanning Software from Ricoh
CD burning software Roxio or Nero
Symantec Antivirus

We routinely run Anti Spyware Programs and our mail is all scanned and washed by before it hits our Exchange Server.

What else would be helpful??
Is the Exchange server also a domain controller?
Do you have any other domain controllers?

Fully patched? Latest service pack for both Exchange and Windows?

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fcarmeldcAuthor Commented:
The Exchange Server is also the domain controller.  Their are no other domain controllers on our network.

Everything is fully patched with latest service packs.   We could be missing some driver updates on the some machines as I have not looked there in a while, but that is unlikely and the problem certainly predates any possible driver updates.

The only drivers that could cause problems would be network card drivers - but the chances of that being the cause of the problem are very small.

The fact that the machine is also a domain controller could be a contributor to the problem. It is not recommended that Exchange is installed on a DC due to the performance hit that it can make.

Has the Exchange Server Best Practises Analyzer Tool been run on this machine?

If not, I would run it and see if it flags any major issues.

Otherwise I would start to look at the machine itself to see if it is starting to have performance issues. If the hard disks are being thrashed then Exchange can have issues.
Exchange is storage dependant. Throwing RAM at Exchange doesn't help. What Exchange likes is fast hard disks, preferably in a RAID array. You can run Exchange with 100 or more uses on 512mb of RAM on a dedicated machine. If the hard disks are modern fast SCSI drives then it will run quite happily.

fcarmeldcAuthor Commented:

I will ask my IT people to make another machine the Domain Controller and see if that helps.

The machine has lots of storage and all are scsi Raid 5.  I can't imagine why the machine would have performance issues and none show up in the events log nor is there any apparent bottlenecks when I monitor network performance.

I will try the Analyzer and Report Back.

Thank you
For what its worth, we have had problems with Symantec AV  - noticeable by heavy CPU usage in the Task manager. While we had the SAV for Exchange server installed, the normal client was incorrectly configured and still trying to scan the Exchange directories.

Another thought - do you by any chance use MS Firewall client for ISA? We found that on certain PCs this was sporadically disabling access to certain DB servers and the exchange server (no answer yet though, still working on this).
fcarmeldcAuthor Commented:
I am running through the best practices analyzer now.  Little things like default maximum message size and a volume shadowing update are showing up.  Are these things capable of causing severe performance problems?
Those are minor things that most servers will throw up if the tool hasn't been run before.
What you are interested in is major things.

fcarmeldcAuthor Commented:
These are all of the errors.  None of them look Major.  According to my IT consultants, the TEMP and TMP problem could help, but we have a single RAID array on our server.  Does anything here look significant?

All Issues  
  Intelligent Message Filter recommendation :  
 The Intelligent Message Filter was not detected and at least one computer in the organization is running Exchange Server 2003. The Intelligent Message Filter can help reduce unsolicited commercial electronic messages.

Organization: First Organization  
  Incoming and outgoing message size restriction Organization: First Organization
 The maximum allowable incoming message size (30000 KB) does not match the outgoing size (15000 KB). These values should be the same to provide restriction consistency.
Admin Group: First Administrative Group  
Server: EXCHANGE  
  Windows Server 2003 SP1: Security Configuration Wizard Server: EXCHANGE
 Exchange Server 2003 is not installed in the default program files folder on server exchange.carmel.local. Exchange install path is D:\Program Files\Exchsrvr. If the Security Configuration Wizard is installed, manual configuration of the Network Security section will be necessary.
Temporary file path optimization Server: EXCHANGE
The TEMP path on server exchange.carmel.local is located on the same drive as the system partition. This may cause store performance problems. Current TEMP path: %SystemRoot%\TEMP.

Temporary file path optimization Server: EXCHANGE
The TMP path on server exchange.carmel.local is located on the same drive as the system partition. This may cause store performance problems. Current TMP path: %SystemRoot%\TEMP.
WINS primary is blank Server: EXCHANGE
The primary WINS server address for network interface '[00000001] Intel(R) PRO/1000 MT Network Connection' on server exchange.carmel.local is blank. Exchange relies on short server name resolution.
Journaling recipient resides on the local server Server: EXCHANGE
The designated journaling recipient for database 'Mailbox Store (EXCHANGE)' on server EXCHANGE is located on the local server. As a best practice, move the journal recipient mailbox to a dedicated journaling server. Journaling recipient: CN=GFI Archiver,OU=Carmel Users and Groups,DC=carmel,DC=local.

Journaling recipient should be hidden Server: EXCHANGE
The designated journaling recipient for database 'Mailbox Store (EXCHANGE)' on server EXCHANGE is not hidden from the address lists. To avoid users sending messages to the journal recipient, use the Active Directory Users and Computers program to hide object 'CN=GFI Archiver,OU=Carmel Users and Groups,DC=carmel,DC=local' from the Exchange address lists.

Single global catalog in topology Server: EXCHANGE
There is only one global catalog server in the Directory Service Access (DSAccess) topology on server EXCHANGE. This configuration should be avoided for fault-tolerance reasons.

SMTP server accepts basic authentication Server: EXCHANGE
SMTP instance 'Default SMTP Virtual Server' on server EXCHANGE is configured to allow basic authentication. For additional security, this can be disabled on back-end mailbox servers.

Consider implementing storage quotas Server: EXCHANGE
Storage quotas are not implemented for mailbox store 'Mailbox Store (EXCHANGE)' on server EXCHANGE. Implementing quotas can improve database management and operations.
Exchange resident on global catalog server Server: EXCHANGE
Exchange server exchange.carmel.local is also a global catalog server. This is a supported configuration, but is not recommended.
Crash upload logging disabled Server: EXCHANGE
 Exchange fatal error information on server exchange.carmel.local is not automatically sent to Microsoft for analysis. It is recommended that you enable this feature through the Exchange System Manager.
Outlook connection range Server: EXCHANGE
All versions of Outlook are allowed to access server exchange.carmel.local. It is recommended that older versions be blocked.
Nothing much in that report.

Where is GFI Archiver installed?
Same machine or somewhere else?
Any other domain controllers?

fcarmeldcAuthor Commented:
That's what I thought.  I am running the performance monitor now.
GFI Archiver is on the same machine.
There are no other domain controllers.
It is interesting that even deleting 8 emails without any attachments caused an hourglass and a 45 second delay with the exclamation point in the tray.
With GFI Mail Archiver on the machine, I wouldn't be surprised if that machine is being thrashed.
Exchange isn't RAM/Processor heavy, but storage.
When you do anything with email, the following things are happening...

- it is writing that change to the database - for your own account
- it is writing that change to the database - for the journaling account
- it is writing that change to the transaction logs.

Then depending on how quick GFI polls the journal mailbox, you have it writing to the SQL database.

Doesn't matter if you have one or 100 users, that is an awful lot of work for the storage system to do.

How is your storage configured?
Single drive?
Multiple drives?
RAID arrays?
Are the transaction logs, database and SQL databases separate?

fcarmeldcAuthor Commented:
We are on a RAID array - single drive configuration with six scsi drives in raid 5
sql database for GFI Mailarchiver are on the same machine!
That RAID configuration is providing you with no benefits at all. That means that you have the OS overhead as well.

With a six drive system I usually split the array up in to two.

Mirror drive 1 and 2: OS, transaction logs
Stripped drive 3, 4 and 5: Exchange database
Drive 6: hot spare.

That machine's storage is being thrashed and that would be the first place I would look for performance issues.

Nothing you can really do without rebuilding the server and moving GFI to another machine.

fcarmeldcAuthor Commented:
The Performance analyzer says the problem is Remote Procedure Calls:

The Microsoft® Exchange Server Analyzer Tool has determined that your server is not operating at optimal performance. The Exchange Server Analyzer evaluates many remote procedure call (RPC) performance counters. If the reported data in the RPC performance counters do not compare favorably to the levels in the table below, a warning is displayed.
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