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Outlook is trying to retrieve data problem...

Posted on 2007-09-29
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Hi, we have installed a MS Exchange 2003 server with approximately 100 mailboxes. Our users keep reporting they are getting the message in Outlook saying outlook is trying to retrieve data from the ms exchange server. Most of our users are webmail users. Originally I thought it was a problem with the speeds of the hard drives, so I upgraded all the hard drives and installed three separate RAID cards. The new specs are...
System: IBM x3200 Server
CPU: 2 x 2Ghz
RAM: 4GB
NIC: GB Nic
OS: Windows 2003 Server Std
Software: MS Exchange 2003 Enterprise Ed, no other applications or processes are running (no antivirus, emails are scanned via the Messagelabls service before they come to our server, both incoming and outgoing)
RAID CARD 1 (mirrored array w/2 Sata HDDs): OS (partition 1), Pagefile (partition 2)
RAID CARD 2 (mirrored stripped array w/4 Sata HDDs): Transaction Logs (partition 1), second partition is empty (partition 2)
RAID CARD 3 (mirrored stripped array w/4 Sata HDDs): Mailbox databases (partition 1), SMTP Queue and MTA Queue (partition 2)
The Exchange server is a domain controller and the GC. We do not currently use the domain for anything except the email. Our workstations are not on a domain and we will be moving the GC to a new domain controller this week.

The biggest problem with this message is it tends to slow down the workstations with outlook on it. Outlook freezes for a few seconds until the message goes away. I have been reading the numerous postings on this subject, but haven't found much to help. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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Question by:rbma
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redseatechnologies earned 900 total points
ID: 19985830
First, I would be running the Exchange Best Practices Analyzer -> http://www.exbpa.com

See if that flags any errors.  Also, you must leave the server as a DC and GC, now that it is one.

I doubt that users not being on the domain is a real problem, but it is an interesting configuration that I would be changing anyway.

Sata hard drives are not my favourite, but you seem configured extraordinarily well, so it shouldn't be the drives.

Anti-virus/spam on the server?

-red
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by:rbma
ID: 19985891
Thanks Red. From memory the analyzer says that the raid that the transaction logs are on is slightly above normal. Would you think I should change the raid from a mirrored striped to be fully striped and not bother with mirroring it? There is no Antivirus or spam on the server. We use Messagelabs who scan all incoming and outgoing emails for viruses and spam before they get to our servers.
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by:redseatechnologies
redseatechnologies earned 900 total points
ID: 19985932
Transaction logs are better on RAID1 than anything else apparently.  I have heard of corruption of transaction logs on RAID5, not that I have seen it first hand.

There is also this guide, which will get right down into the nitty gritty of it; http://www.msexchange.org/tutorials/Art-Science-Sizing-Exchange-2003-Part2.html

-red
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by:flyguybob
flyguybob earned 600 total points
ID: 19986295
Because the Exchange server is also a DC/GC there is a distinct possibility that they may be experiencing problems with directory lookups and not accessing Exchange Data.
The one thing I would suggest is combing through the event logs.
For the network that the Exchange server and DC/GC are on I would create an Active Directory Subnet and assign it to the site, which is most likely Default First Site Name.
This is an old article but the instructions are good:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows2000/en/advanced/help/dssite_create_subnet.htm
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by:rbma
ID: 19995777
Hi, would a SATA 10K RPM (WD Raptor 10K rpm hdds) RAID 1 sufficiently support the transaction logs for approximately 100 Mailboxes?
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by:redseatechnologies
redseatechnologies earned 900 total points
ID: 19995792
How much mailflow?  How much pressure do those users put on the server?

At this stage, I would say it is a firm maybe/probably.
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by:flyguybob
flyguybob earned 600 total points
ID: 19996139
Would that configuration support transaction logs for 100 mailboxes, it is definitely a good chance.  For an average organization it definitely would support that and more.
Transaction logs, databases, Active Directory database (.dit) and sysvol, DNS (if not AD integrated), etc. most likely it will overtax the server at times).
Did the ExBPA or ExTA that Red mentioned return any errors or disk latency issues?
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Author Comment

by:rbma
ID: 20107561
Hi, I have run the performance tests. Originaly I did get bottlenecks reported on the SATA drives we were using. I replaced the SATA drives with 15,000 RPM SAS drives and now I have no bottlenecks reported. Unfortunately I still have the message.
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