Outlook 2003 freezes when viewing a message in the reading pane

Posted on 2009-06-28
Last Modified: 2012-05-07
Hi there,

We've got a mixed fleet of Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007 users both accessing a single Exchange 2003 server.  In recent weeks we have received numerous reports of Outlook 2003 users freezing whilst viewing an email in the reading pane.

We have built identical PC images - one with Outlook 2003 and another with Outlook 2007.  We log on as an affected user on both PC's and randomly pick an email.  The Outlook 2003 PC appears to freeze up with an hourglass & a blank reading pane for anywhere up to 10 minutes, whilst the exact same message viewed on Outlook 2007 displays immediately.

Anyone come across a similar issue?  There are loads of forum posts referring to Outlook 2003 freezing when storing in a PST file, but that's not the case here - both are running Outlook in online (i.e. NOT cached) mode direct to the exchange server.

Any help is greatly appreciated!
Question by:hvec-it
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Expert Comment

ID: 24733529
Check the event viewer for any error on both the clients and exchange server as well. It must generate some sort of event entry regarding to this problem from there u will exactly find the problem. and then come up with that error/warning message and error/warning id. For the time being u can do following actions. it may help u...

Check free space available at all drives.
restart the server and after that restart all the servers manually one by one and make sure all services starts without any error and should remain started.

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Expert Comment

by:Dhiraj Mutha
ID: 24733538
Try Disabling the cache mode, and also let us know that is this happens only with one particular mail or with all the mails? if only one mail, can you post the mail here.

Author Comment

ID: 24733543
Thanks mkamranjaved

I can confirm that we have been very closely looking at event logs on both the client AND exchange server side.  The client side is clear (no events of any importance/relevance).  On the server side there are occasional DS Access events such as :-

Event ID 2061
Process MAD.EXE (PID=3464). An LDAP search call failed - Server=xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Error code=80040957. Base DN=, Filter=(legacyExchangeDN=), Scope=2.

We have attempted a number of "fixes" to try and resolve this issue, including KB references to setting the "Directory Access" settings manually as per  - still seeing those 2061 events (approximately 1 per hour, but the times do not correspond to the times that the Outlook 2003 clients are locking up).

All server & client drives have plenty of free space

Server and client have both been restarted - no specific errors were identified in the startup process that indicate anything in particular.

The stange part is whether this is a client-side issue, given that Outlook 2007 is not affected.  We actually have a freshly built image for testing - purely just WinXP + Outlook 2003, no add-ins or plugins and not even running anti-virus.

Speaking of which, we disabled trend micro scanmail for exchange for the purposes of testing on the exchange server - didn't make any difference.

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LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 24733740
Try enabling Cache mode, this would not tax your server soo much and might inturn reduce server performance.

Do the clients get any pop-ups saying Outlook is trying to retrive data??? if yes, is it NETBIOS or FQDN...

- Saakar

Expert Comment

ID: 24733872
did u test this thing by configuring outlook 2003 on the server. i mean configure outlook 2003 on the same exchange server. if it runs perfectly fine on the server then its mean that there may b some problem from client side else if same problem found then should concentrate on server side. can u kindly tell me after doing this test and also test by enabling and disabling cache mode.
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Expert Comment

ID: 24733946
Installing Outlook on Exchange Server is NOT supported by MS, yes you can try to install it on another machine or DC for that matter

Accepted Solution

hvec-it earned 0 total points
ID: 24782478
Hi all,

I ended up discovering that this issue was purely client-side (i.e. not related to Exchange).  By putting wireshark on the affected PC's and analysing the traffic I found that on the affected emails Outlook 2003 was trying to do a DNS lookup for a web site address that was on the footer of email messages.

Whent the client was unable to get a DNS response, it continually re-tried the DNS request over and over again until it timed out - and then Outlook came good again.  After researching on the internet for some time I found a post that indicated this might be the Outlook Phishing Filter trying to resolve the web address.  Turning off the phishing filter didn't resolve the issue, but putting the affected web address into the IE "Trusted Sites" zone seems to have resolved the issue for the majority of our users.


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