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Exchange 2003 Messages pending submission and SMTP protocol event sink

Posted on 2006-10-24
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Hi

I've got an Exchange server 2003 Version 6.5 (Build 7638.2 : Service Pack 2) installed on a Windows Server Std 2003 SP2, with GFI MailEssentials 12.0 and GFI MailSecurity 10.0.
My SMTP connector is configured for a single external Smart Host only.
I'm having the issue that mail is queing in the 'messages pending submission' queue, and I get an intermittent SMTP protocal event sink error on the SMTP connector queue, which status turns to Retry and then to Active after several minutes. The queue takes up to 3 hours to return to normal for about 1500 very small emails.
My major concerns are the following:
1. My users send out hundreds of statements each about 10kb-20kb big, I'm thinking that our external SMTP host sees this as abusive and bans us for a couple of hours. Is there a way of using DNS and MX records instead of relying on just this one SMTP Relay server for sending mail or maybe a way around this issue? If I put it on DNS a lot of the mail returns server not found.
2. Viewing the traffic on my ISA server i can see that outgoing mail are being sent in bursts with long times of silence, maybe a indication of a performance issue on my Exchange box?
3. Running ExBPA (Exchange Best Practise Analyzer Tool, awesome tool for finding issues) I find that having the store on the same drive is a performance issue, but my drive is RAID 5 with 4 SATA drives, would two partitions help, or does it have to be separate physical drives?
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Question by:unluckynelson
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by:Sembee
ID: 17797222
On the performance issue - two partitions would not help at all. To gain anything on performance you need to have the logs and the database on separate drives or separate arrays.

Sending 1500 emails in a burst would trigger many ISPs to restrict the traffic. If your DNS is setup correctly you shouldn't get host unknowns - although you may get failures if the DNS for your domain isn't configured correctly.

http://www.amset.info/exchange/dnsconfig.asp

Exchange isn't very good at dealing with bulk email messages, because of the way that it works. You also have the GFI products involved, which could be getting in the way.

Therefore the first thing I would do is ensure that your DNS, reverse DNS and MX records are all set correctly.
Then make sure that the DNS server configuration is optimum (I usually set Exchange to use the domain controllers ONLY for DNS, then configure forwarders in the DNS server applet on the domain controllers and use the ISPs DNS servers as the forwarders).

Simon.
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by:unluckynelson
ID: 17798616
Thanks Simon for quick reply and answer.

On the performance issue, I think changing the hardware would be a lot of downtime which I don't currently have, so is it possible just to add an IDE drive for the store or the log files and get some performance gain? Would it be major and\or necessary? We have about 68 mailbox users.

Specs on the Server:

Motherboard      
CPU Type      DualCore Intel Pentium D 950, 3400 MHz (17 x 200)
Motherboard Chipset      Intel Lakeport i945P
System Memory      3072 MB  (DDR2-533 DDR2 SDRAM)

Storage      
IDE Controller      Standard Dual Channel PCI IDE Controller
SCSI/RAID Controller      Adaptec SATA RAID 2410SA Controller

I've corrected my SMTP banner to the corossponding MX record from my ISP, thanks to the URL. I can't change my reverse DNS because it's bieng hosted by dyndns.org...
Would you still recomend using DNS to route mail over using my ISP's SMTP to relay it for me?

I've also been racking my brain on the bulk email, is there no way around all the AD checking and GFI processing or maybe delaying the mail coming from the Accounting packing for the statements? Would adding a SMTP virtual server on another port than 25, dedicated to the statements, maybe seperate the queue's from the standard mail, letting the standard mail through?
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by:Sembee
ID: 17798745
If you are going to add an IDE drive, then use it for the logs. I wouldn't put the store on to it.
If you have the slots and the space then you could possibly look at using another RAID card and/or array for the logs. You only need two drives as logs can sit on a mirror.

I put logs and database on separate drives for all deployments I do - whether that is a ten user SBS server or 500 user dedicated Exchange server.
When Exchange is working it is writing to the logs and the database at the same time. That means you have two high transactions trying to write to the same disk. Split them up and both writes can take place at the same time.

Reverse DNS is set on the IP address - so unless you are on a dynamic IP you can ask the ISP to change it. Whether they will or not is a different matter.

For email delivery you could try the "suck it and see" method. Switch things over to DNS and see what happens to the messages. Some will be delivered, others will get stuck. If you can work out what domains have problems then there is nothing to stop you from having two SMTP Connectors - one for DNS delivery and another using the ISPs SMTP server.
Another option would be to use someone else for a relay host. There are various options out there. I think even dyndns.org offer the facility.

Changing the port will not help as you still need to deliver the email on port 25.
SMTP Connectors don't really give you much scope. If the email messages are sent by a certain account through a MAPI connection (not SMTP) then you could use additional SMTP Connectors to restrict the email delivery to out of hours.
Exchange doesn't allow much control based on the sender - everything is managed based on the recipient.

Simon.
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by:unluckynelson
ID: 17799167
Thanks again

I will definately do the HDD performance upgrade.

I am on a dynamic IP, so the reverse DNS is not configurable...

I noticed that my local domain was not in GFI's whitelist, maybe that'll give it a performance boost, will see during next statement batch. (But this enables some spam to be whitelisted as well... damn)

I have access to the developer of the Accounting software that sends the statements, would a MAPI client on the software perform better then just generating statements and SMTPing them to the Exchange box?
I notice that external mail and internal mail are thrown into the same queue on exchange, isn't there a way to seperate this? Shouldn't internal mail always be instant, except when u have an external account included in the To field? (Maybe I misconfigured it somewhere)

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Sembee earned 250 total points
ID: 17799261
If the messages are being generated as SMTP emails then you have a number of options.

One option could be to batch them in to a drop directory, then run a batch file to pick up the files and move them in to the pickup folder on the Exchange server.
Another option would be to use an alternative SMTP server. This could be a server on your network, or a server elsewhere.

The only reason I mentioned MAPI was because it gives you an authentication stream. By using authentication you could control the email flow on the account basis.

Exchange treats all email as equal. Internal email you shouldn't see sat in the queues though. If you were then I would say that something is interfering with the traffic. File level AV is the classic cause of that - scanning something it shouldn't.

Simon.
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by:unluckynelson
ID: 17799375
Thanks again for all the help, I will see how tommorow goes. I think configuring the DNS and disabling some of the AV checking improved the throughput somewhat...

Highest Regards
Johan
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