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Exchange Server 2003 damages certain PDF files when they are sent through email.

Posted on 2006-07-20
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Last Modified: 2010-03-06
The Exchange server has been working fine for over a year now and then this started out of the blue.  When they receive a document in PDF format and open it in Acrobat Reader 6.x or 7.x it will sometimes give the error message:  "The file is damaged and could not be repaired."

The problem so far only happens with a single company sending these files.  I have been looking up articles online and have found that Exchange has in the past had problems with mime encodings and believe this to be the issue.

I have checked the properties on the particular PDF file after transfering it through HTTP and it was created using the following encoders to write the file:
PDF Producer:  Amyuni Document Converter
Fast Web View:  Yes
PDF Version:  1.3

The PDF files can also be sent using zip compression without any problems.

The problem I believe is some sort of new Acrobat encoding that is being miss interpreted by the Exchange server.

Any help that can be given will be much appreciated.

Once I have an authorized PDF to release as an example I will post it on our server...  Until then I apologize.
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Question by:TheLocalGuy
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LVL 104

Expert Comment

by:Sembee
ID: 17157818
I don't think it is an Acrobat problem.
The encoder isn't an Adobe encoded, but one written by a third party using the open standard.
Most of the times I have seen this it has been caused by an antivirus product unable to cope with the file format. As it is being produced by a third party there is a good chance that it isn't strict PDF and as such something that "reads" the file may struggle.

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:TheLocalGuy
ID: 17178252
It seems my information was incorrect, the problem does not reside with one company sending PDF's but multiple companies.  This leads me to believe that there is something going on with our exchange server.

Our server is running Symantec Corporate Antivirus 11.0, I will try fiddling with that to see if it is the problem.
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Author Comment

by:TheLocalGuy
ID: 17178273
Symantec AV is not even scanning the exchange folder where all of the data resides and I see no logs that would lead to suspision.
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LVL 104

Expert Comment

by:Sembee
ID: 17178721
What you are saying is that any PDF files that go through your system are being corrupted?
That includes inbound and outbound?

If you downloaded a PDF file from Adobe's web site then sent that, would have be corrupted?

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:TheLocalGuy
ID: 17179674
I'm sorry Simon that is not the case.  We can send PDF files out and no harm is done.  We can receive SOME PDF files.  But others are damaged upon arrival.  I believe this has something to do with the way Exchange 2003 encodes the PDF files.  There is a tech article burried in the microsoft support site that addresses an issue with Exchange 5.5 where a new type of PDF writer would use newer encoding and exchange would therefore encode it as a diffent file encoding.

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LVL 104

Expert Comment

by:Sembee
ID: 17180079
Exchange 5.5 and Exchange 2003 are very different. Articles that apply to 5.5 usually don't apply to 200x. The SMTP engine for a start is different. Exchange 5.5 had its own, whereas Exchange 200x used the Windows engine. Exchange 2007 has gone back to using its own.

I haven't heard of this happening with Exchange 200x, so my instinct is still a third party is causing the problem. If this was a widespread problem then i think it would be more widely discussed and diagnosed.

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:TheLocalGuy
ID: 17195778
First off, Sembee thanks for the comment.  

I've spent the last couple nights working with different PDF files and checking the AV software and filtering services used on this server.  The problem is still present but I now have a good idea of what files will not work.

PDF's created using Amyuni Document Creator with the option "Fast Web View" enabled seem to be the problem files.  Everything else that I have tested works just fine in and out of exchange.  So now the task is to see why these specific PDF files fail to make it through Exchange.
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LVL 104

Accepted Solution

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Sembee earned 500 total points
ID: 17196374
If you remove your AV and/or antispam software from the server, does the problem continue?
If so, then you need to flag it to the developers of that application.
If not, then you may still have to flag it to them as a compatibility bug. They are probably doing something outside of the PDF standard and it is causing a problem.

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:TheLocalGuy
ID: 17196421
I disabled Symantec AV I have not uninstalled it yet.  I will try that tonight.  I'm really not into the idea of turning off virus protection on a production server :)

I'll let you know how it goes in the morning.  Thanks all for your help so far.
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LVL 104

Expert Comment

by:Sembee
ID: 17196693
Due to the way that AV applications integrate with Exchange, you have to actually remove it to ensure that it isn't interfering with traffic flow.

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:TheLocalGuy
ID: 17246641
Sembee, looks like you were correct, I have verified that the person trying to email was using a PDF creator that didn't work with Exchange Server.  Thanks.
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