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SBS 2003 POP 3 Connector

I am having a an issue with the POP3 connector on our SBS 2003 Server, here is explanation.....

Background, we have an email host outside of our company for all external email.  Our SBS machine gets email from their via a POP3 connector.  This has been working great for a year until (except for the stray password mismatch).......
 
A few days ago I started noticing that emails where getting left on our hosts server (via webmail) even after multiple forced POP3 connection attempts(normal schedule is every 15 mins).   The strangest thing was that some accounts would download and others wouldnt, and it would be different ones on different attempts. After figuring out how to enable logging of the POP3 connector tonight I was able to analyze the error logs and this is the error killing it:

Event ID: 1036

An error occured during a POP3 connection to server <mail.sagetechcorp.com[user@sagetechcorp.com]>  The error is 1232(The network location cannot be reached. For information about network troubleshooting see Windows help).

Here are my major questions, besides why is this happening?

Is this us or our email host? I have been going back and forth with their tech support, no help so far.  They havent said one thing useful yet.

Why would this only occur for certain accounts? and even stranger why different accounts at different times? with no perceptible pattern yet.

One of my intial thoughts was router blocking it, but wouldnt that be all or nothing?

Thanks in advance.
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sagetechit
Asked:
sagetechit
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2 Solutions
 
ormerodrutterCommented:
It is more likely problem with your POP3 connector, as it is not the most reliable email tool in the world. I have seen too many problems with SBS POP3 connector from different clients so from years ago I would only get them using SMTP, or if they insist of using POP3, buy a proper POP3 software in the market.

There are a few reasons to that, such as corrupted message, corrupted attachments, Anti-virus program stopping the email, etc. Are you using any kind of hardware firewall (such as sonicwall)? If so it could be a setting on that to block email with attachment (which might contain marco).

Have you tried downloading those offending message via Outlook POP3?

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Alan HardistyCommented:
I was going to suggest disabling the POP3 connector and pulling them individually but got beaten to it ;-(
One thing I will ask is has your server been fully patched with Windows Updates and Service Packs?
Is Exchange 2003 Service Pack 2 installed?
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sagetechitAuthor Commented:
Its not message specfic.  It will eventually get the emails after many tries, for example an email was just stuck on our email host and I had to synchronize 4 times for it to get it.  Except for one account, it is not picking up this one email for 24+ hours.

And the wierdest thing is, some accounts work on one attempt then they wont work on another attempt or vice versa.

Alan,

you may remember from theiPhone thread I do have SP2 installed and fully updated.  (This issue has taken precedence over that iPhone syncing failures right now)

ormerodrutter,

Do you have any good recommendations for a good POP3 software for SBS/Exchange, I have seen quite a few but i am not sure what is good, we dont need anything fancy just a reliable way to pull email from our email host for multiple(~40 accounts).

Thanks guys.
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ormerodrutterCommented:
If you have over 40 accounts I strongly recommend you going full SMTP.

I used IGetMail before. Affordable ($130) and for unlimited mailbox + fast connectin.
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Alan HardistyCommented:
Ah - Sorry.  It is hard to keep track of questions on EE especially ones that are linked by the same Asker!
I just concentrate on the question ;-)
I have used POPCon and it is very cheap and pretty reliable in my experience ($79):
http://www.christensen-software.com/popcon.htm 
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sagetechitAuthor Commented:
I was just speaking with the company owner about this, he wants to host our own email.

Is there a good guide that can guide me threw all the steps necessary to do this, we already have a static IP.  and a registered domain name.

I also would have to host our own website, I know this is an easy process just need to know exact steps.  

Thanks.
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Alan HardistyCommented:
Well you will need to do the following:
  • Setup your server with some Anti-Spam software to prevent the deluge of crap that will inevitably arrive.  Would personally recommend Vamsoft ORF which costs $239 per server and is brilliant at killing spam. (www.vamsoft.com) and is only a 4mb download.
  • Make sure your fixed IP Address has the correct Reverse DNS entry (check on http://www.mxtoolbox.com/diagnostic.aspx).  If not, call your ISP and get them to change it to match the FQDN of your mail server e.g., mail.yourdomain.com
  • Check that you have an SPF record setup properly to reflect your Fixed IP Address / mail server name (http://www.mxtoolbox.com/spf.aspx) and adjust accordingly
  • Check that your Fixed IP Address is not on any blacklists (http://www.mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx) - If you are - deal with them first.
  • Change your MX record to point to your fixed IP Address (ideally on a Friday (late pm) so that DNS replication can take place over the weekend, but as you are already collecting via POP3, this does not really matter
  • After a week (to make sure you have all the POP3 email), turn off the POP3 collection from your existing host.
  • Job done
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Alan HardistyCommented:
In terms of the website - is it mission critical or just an informational site?
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sagetechitAuthor Commented:
the website is just informational

I was initially thinking of hosting it on our SBS server, but then i started reading about how bad that can be. My current idea is setting up a DMZ with our router and putting the website on an XP PRO machine in this DMZ.  Then directing the router to forward all port 80 to this machine and all HTTPS (i forget port) to the SBS for RWW and OWA and the such.  This seem like a good idea?

So i guess the intelligent message filter for Exchange doesnt do the job well? why recommend vamsoft?

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Alan HardistyCommented:
Hosting on your own server can be bad and it would be better to host it elsewhere if available.  I am not familiar with hosting on an XP box, so cannot give you guidance on that I am afraid, but forwarding port 80 to that and leaving 443 pointing to the SBS box sounds good to me.
IMF (Intelligent Message Filter) does a reasonably good job and I am sure there are plenty of companies out there relying on it completely, but I am not one of those companies and I prefer a product that I can see exactly what is going on and with Vamsoft (recommended to me by Mestha - EE's leading Exchange Expert) as the logging on it is excellent.  It has also reduced my spam from 5-6 a week to 8 in 4 months.  Also, considerng the price and server-based licensing, it is extremely good value.
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sagetechitAuthor Commented:
sorry i am such a noob on all this....

is the MX record the same as the nameserver when i do a whois on my domain?

Ok just got off the phone with our ISP for our static IP, they are telling me they do not provide reverse DNS services unless you get a T1 line or better, right now we have a 10/1 DSL.  Does this totally kill the the idea of hosting our own email till we get an ISP that allows us to do this?  and why can't anything be easy?
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Alan HardistyCommented:
No worries, we all have to start somewhere.

The mx records are the bits in DNS that tell people where the mail servers for a domain live.

If you visit http://www.mxtoolbox.com/ you can check what you currently have.

Reverse DNS is somewhat critical if you want to send out mail directly yourself, but you can always send out via your ISPs smarthost and then it is of lesser concern.

If life were simple and straight forward it would be boring!
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ormerodrutterCommented:
Just want to add to the above that not many ISP do provide smarthost service (mine doesn't!!) but I think your ISP is trying to sell their higher end products by not offering a RDNS on normal boardband line.

Some ISP do require sender to have a proper RDNS before accepting their emails - AOL is one of them.

If your ISP don't offer RDNS on your line and not providing smarthost service you'd better switch to other who do.

Also want to add that you may ask your ISP (if they are hosting your email) to add a secondary MX record to their backup server - just in case your server is down your email will be stored on this backup server.
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Alan HardistyCommented:
Adding a secondary MX record can open yourself up to receiving more spam as spammers will actively target the secondary MX record directly as they are usually less secure and allow more spam through.
You should be able to work happily on just a single MX record as long as your server is reliable.  You normally have about 3 days to fix any problems before mail starts to bounce.
Please have a read of Mestha's article (EE's leading Exchange Expert) regarding secondary MX records / backup MX record:
http://blog.sembee.co.uk/archive/2007/02/02/38.aspx
I have also had cases of secondary and tertiary MX records causing mail delivery problems because the mail servers at the second / third MX records were not setup properly and people kept getting random bounces because their mail server was sending to the backup mail servers and not following mail standards and mailing the primary mail server.  The problem was resolved by removing the secondary and tertiary MX records.
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sagetechitAuthor Commented:
Hey guys,

I am going to start a new thread about hosting own email/website.

Last night I downloaded the POPcon software from http://www.christensen-software.com/popcon.htm 
after setting it up it worked flawlessly, now pulling all emails no problems.  I guess the Excahnge/SBS POP3 connector is just hokey.

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sagetechitAuthor Commented:
Thanks for help guys,

I gave Alan a few extra pts for all the information about setting up hosting own email.  
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ormerodrutterCommented:
Yep you are right about that :)
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Alan HardistyCommented:
I bet you are enjoying mail arriving more frequently now too!
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sagetechitAuthor Commented:
LOL i have had 5 people come up to me already and say this is great....every 3 mins instead of 15

I went for 3 instead of 1 cause didnt want to bog down internet connection. Although I doubt this sucks up much bandwith at all.

Wonder why Microsoft cant include a functional POP3 connector that could check more often, I would think from my programming experience it be a cake walk to program.  My uncle who is a lawyer and did IT for his lawfirm (he had a kick asss system solid as a rock)  has a theory that Microsoft has all these under the table deals with small 2nd party software people vendors and they purposely make things like this not work well so people have to buy the 2nd party software and they give a cut to Microsoft, hmmmmm.
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Alan HardistyCommented:
Well that's always good, but if you ditch pop3 and have mail delivered then there will be no delay at all.

Can't comment on the Microsoft deals, but you never know ;-)
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