SMTP service hanging

We have a exchange 2003 mail server with a hanging smtp service about once a week, usually on a sunday or monday. The e-mails in our internet provider's batched smtp queue starts piling up, our mail server terminates all sessions with the provider's batched smtp server.

Everytime when the smtp service on the exchange server doesn't function and when I manually stop and restart the SMTP service I get an error message: Could not start the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol service on the local computer. Error 1053: The service did not respond to the start or control request in a timely fashion.

After a server reboot the sessions are reactivated and the e-mail batch is then picked up again.

There aren't any errors in the eventviewer about this event.

How can we fix this issue?
NicoNLAsked:
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MesthaConnect With a Mentor Commented:
You would have to remove from the machine anything non-native.
So AV, Antispam etc. After removing everything reboot the machine at least twice to ensure that all the hooks come out.

Simon.
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MesthaCommented:
What else is on the server?
In my experience SMTP is usually pretty reliable - problems start with third party tools getting in the way. AV, Antispam, something like that. The fact that you cannot restart the service correctly is a clear sign of that happening.

Simon.
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NicoNLAuthor Commented:
We have CA eTrust Treath Management Agent 8.1 with the mail option running on that server. It's a front-end server, nothing else is running on this server. The only tools installed are the Microsoft Support Tools, no third party tools. In a forum I read about an issue with IMF and a Symantec IIS plug-in. But eTrust doesn't work with a IIS plug-in.

A strange thing is that, before adding this front-end server, we had the same issue with our back then main/single exchange server. This server also was running sql server and crm server and some other tools. We decided to ad a front-end server, so the other exchange server is now the back-end server. After adding the front-end server the smtp error problem moved from to the front-end server.

Do you have any tips on how to trace the application / program that can be causing this?
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MesthaCommented:
The only reliable way is to gut the machine out of anything else. If the problem has followed from another server then it is either a configuration error or an application common to both systems.

Simon.
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NicoNLAuthor Commented:
We had the hanging SMTP service today again. I noticed that after restarting the HTTP SSL service, the SMTP service could be restarted (without a reboot needed) and the e-mail batched smtp is picked up again. So it must be a configuration with HTTP SSL?  We have OWA running on that server with a certificate. What can be wrong with HTTP SSL causing SMTP to quit?
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MesthaCommented:
They are both use the same underlying service - inetinfo.exe which is in the services as iisadmin. Problems with that are quite common, and the usual cause in my experience is third party applications.

Simon.
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NicoNLAuthor Commented:
I had a Microsoft SSL Diagnostics Version 1.1 (x86) tool installed on that server.
I have uninstalled this application and havent had a hanging smtp service again yet.
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NicoNLAuthor Commented:
It looks like the error is related to the Intelligent Message Filter . Today I manually installed an Intelligent Message Filter update. During installation the smtp service, IIS Admin http SSL and more is send a stop control. After the World Wide Web Publishing service is send a stop control, a W3SVC warning follows, event id 1013, "A process serving application pool 'ExchangeApplicationPool' exceeded time limits during shut down. The process id was '3484'". SMTP is sent a start control, but after that SMTP start hanging. A server reboot was needed to get SMTP running again. That also explains the SMTP error has followed from the other exchange server (now backend server) to this front end server. The front end is running the IMF now.

The question is how to get this fixed. There aren't any other third party tools running on this server.
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MesthaCommented:
I don't see how you came to the conclusion that IMF is the cause.
During the installation of an IMF update, the IIS related services have to be stopped. That is normal practise. The fact that SMTP failed to stop as part of that process does not mean that IMF was the cause of the problem. It may have been the instigator, but I would expect the same problem to occur if you attempted to stop the service manually.

Simon.
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NicoNLAuthor Commented:
Hi Simon,

When I replay stopping and manually starting the services, as logged in the eventviewer, during instalation of the IMF update, smtp and all other services stop and restart without any problem. I tried it a few times over the last days. The spontaneous smtp hanging usually happens weekly somewhere in the weekend.

05/05/09 you wrote on how to trace the cause, the only reliable way is to gut the machine out of anything else. How do I go about gutting the machine out of anything else?

Regards,
Nico
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NicoNLAuthor Commented:
Hi Simon,

I can't just uninstall the AV or the antispam (IMF in our case) on this exchange server. I noticed that after executing an iisreset the smtp service restarts normally. So I made a commandline script, running iisreset and restarting the smtp service, which I scheduled to run once a week. Up to now this does the trick. We are planning an upgrade to exchange 2007 replacing these servers. So for now I'll leave it at that. Thanks for your tips.

Kind regards,
Nico
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