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Exchange Server Freezing With 100% CPU For 30 Minutes At Same Time Each Day

Posted on 2013-10-31
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Last Modified: 2014-03-19
Our Exchange 2003 server every day at the same time freezes with 100% CPU.  The server freezes for about 30 minutes.  The process that is maxing it out is svchost which has many services.  We started restarting each service and once we restarted the server service that had dependent Exchange services (MS Exchange MTA Stacks, MS Exchange Information Store and MS Exchange System Attendant) the CPU usage went down.  Any Idea whey this is occurring?  

This server is a virtual server in a VMware environment.
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Question by:hopkins1003
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Expert Comment

by:Adam Brown
ID: 39615400
There are a number of things that can cause that. But you should know that Exchange 2003 has never been supported in a virtualized environment. It should be installed on a fully phsyical server, or you should upgrade to a newer version of Exchange if you want to continue virtualizing Exchange (Of course, Exchange 2003 server is completely out of support and will no longer be supported by Microsoft in any fashion after April 14th 2014).

That said, you should be able to get a better idea of exactly what is going on by using Perfmon to get a trace log of more performance counters, like hard drive usage, memory usage, etc. You should also check to see what time your database maintenance is set to occur. With this being in a virtualized environment, also check to see which servers are also running on the VM host and see if there are functions on those servers that are over-utilizing resources. Because Exchange 2003 was never optimized to work in a virtual environment, there's a strong likelihood that this is a symptom of that. If you can move the VM to an empty VM Host, then see if the problem persists, you will have a better idea of whether it's virtualization issues or the server software itself causing problems.
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Expert Comment

by:LeeDerbyshire
ID: 39616392
It's a while since I played with E2003, but if it's happening at the same time each day, I'd be looking for something like the scheduled maintenance settings, or a scheduled virus scan. Or even someone doing a large mailshot at the same time each day.
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Author Comment

by:hopkins1003
ID: 39624358
Thanks for you help.  I was able to identify the issue.  Our RMM tool was the culprit.  Once I uninstalled it, the problem went away.  I am working with the developer to determine the reason.  We had a similar issue with another server in the environment and the common denominators are Server 2003 and being a VMware guest.  I will let you know if I find out more, but thanks for helping me narrow it down.
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Accepted Solution

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hopkins1003 earned 0 total points
ID: 39929394
Issue was that our RMM tool was initiating a scan for updates.  The svchost responsible for this scan is allowed to use as much resources as necessary in Windows Server 2003.  This will definitely  take up all resources on a single CPU VM like we had.  We changed the scan for updates to a different time and it is working.
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Author Closing Comment

by:hopkins1003
ID: 39939078
We were able to resolve the issue
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