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IMAP Failed to Update Headers - Exchange IMAP Account on Outlook 2007

Posted on 2009-05-13
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Last Modified: 2013-11-29
I have an IMAP account set-up on Outlook 2007. The IMAP server is an SBS 2003 Exchange server. This one account is having ongoing problems receiving the following error:

Failed to update headers.
Details: An IMAP command failed.
Protocol: IMAP
Server: mail.[domain].com
Port: 143

Basically, I receive the error when: I first log on, any time there is a new message, any time I try to purge deleted messages (those deleted messages won't purge, by the way), and any time I click to view another message. Also, any e-mails filed in other folders do NOT have this issue at all.

The progression of this error has been rather strange. When I first added the IMAP account, it worked fine for about a week without issue at all. Then this error started happening. I don't know of anything that caused it to start happening (I.e.: I didn't really change anything that I'm aware of). The error occurred for about a week and then seemed to go away. I then had to re-format my system, and since then the error has been back consistently. Every once in a while it will go away for a few hours, but then be back.  

I have attempted to delete the IMAP account, remove all files associated with it in the Outlook folder, and re-create it, with no effect. Also, I've googled this error and have yet to find any suggested solutions that are viable which is why I'm asking here. I've tried two different systems--the error occurs on both systems.

Any ideas?
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Question by:thefinz
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Accepted Solution

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thefinz earned 0 total points
ID: 24415750
Thanks to Microsoft TechNet, I figured out the source of this error and there is a "workaround", although not a solution. I am posting it here for the benefit of those in this community:

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/forums/en-US/exchangesvradmin/thread/c63b8713-9ef9-4076-a11b-5db08255689b/

From "buddha377"

"It has nothing to do with your client, or hot fixes, or your firewall or your antivirus.  All the results you will find on Google to this question are bogus, except for this one now.  This is an Exchange problem.  The "workarounds" are useless and do not solve anything.  You also can't search the message in the Exchange trace tool by the id listed in the Event log.  Awesome!

A client of mine was using using Outlook 2007 connecting to an SBS 2003 server will all service packs.  It got the error message "failed to update headers".  I got a similiar error messages when using Thunderbird to connect.  On my SBS server the event log was filling up like crazy with Error 1023 every time my user connected, which indicated a server problem.  She also could not purge deleted messages.  They just stayed in her inbox with a line through them.

As stated by Mike Shen, the problem is caused by Exchange server failing to render the message according to the RFC822 standard.  This is your main clue.  Howerver, the solution proposed on this forum was overly complicated, dangerous (as it requires you to mess with the delicate Exchange message store) and does not work with SBS, as another poster noted.  I needed a simpler solution and found it!

The answer is quite simple:

Dump your entire inbox and all subfolders to a pst, so you have a backup.  Then set up the user's account as an Exchange connection on another computer (my client can't connect to exchange via MAPI, which is why she is IMAP, so I had to use a different machine and a different Outlook).  You could probably also use OWA.  I then DELETED every mail in her inbox via the MAPI connection (OWA would probably work too).  I then went back to her computer, opened her Outlook and voila, no errors!  I then opened backup PST so she could see her old mail.  In this case it will act just like an Archive folder.  I did not reimport the mail, as I was afraid the errors would reoccur.  

Problem solved.

The horrible irony of this is that the offending messages were Outlook meeting requests!  In other words, Exchange can't render email properly from it's own client!  YEAH!  How do I know this?  I know this because I tried to purge all of her messages via IMAP, to no avail.  They just stayed in her inbox with a line through them.  Well apparently, even though the messages stayed in outlook crossed out, they WERE deleted on the server.  When I logged in via the Exchange configured Outlook client, only the two offending messages remained.  And both of them were unaccepted meeting requests.  Yeah MS!  You outdid yourself on this one. :)

Cheers,

Buddha"

Also, gogilamonster has an interesting workaround:
"Same here started when I upgraded all my users to Outlook 2007. My Unix users using evolution client configured for IMAP are the most affected when they get a meeting invite it get stuck while downloading emails. My work around was have a server-based rules for affected users to move the calendar invites to a different folder other than the inbox and un-subscribe it from the IMAP folder list. They use OWA to deal with the invites but its a hassle."

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Expert Comment

by:ZachTouba
ID: 32611139
Thank You for posting the correct cause of the problem. Absolutely true that it: "has nothing to do with your client, or hot fixes, or your firewall or your antivirus.  All the results you will find on Google to this question are bogus, except for this one now." I struggled with those bogus answers found on other forums through Google for far too long. Reason for this comment is, I found something much more simple than having to archive everything and delete/recreate their mailbox (although I do see/understand why that would work). In my situation it was as simple as:

Close Outlook on users computer
Use OWA to login to users mailbox
Delete all meeting requests/invites
Empty the "deleted items" bin
Log off OWA users mailbox
Open Outlook on users computer

I can't promise it will work for everyone, but it did for me. I would try this first and if it still doesn't work, then move on to the more thorough method (original/accepted solution)
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Author Comment

by:thefinz
ID: 32613188
I agree with ZachTouba. I'm the OP, I actually ended up posting a blog post with a solution that's turned out to be fairly simple for me.

http://randomwindowstips.wordpress.com/2009/05/18/failed-to-update-headers-imap-on-exchange/
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Expert Comment

by:mlibrescu
ID: 33230794
I don't agree that the accepted solution is the only solution. I'm using Gmail imap and have been having the problem. I'm pretty sure that I know which messages are causing the problem, but for some reason, I was having a problem deleting them off the server.

I don't use Exchange. I just went onto Gmail via the web and located instances of the suspect invitation e-mails, deleted them, then emptied the trash. I think this should have fixed the problem, but it will be another day or so before I know for sure.
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