Outlook intermittently looses connection to Exchange

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by Create, May 21, 2007.

  1. Create

    Create :free at last:

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    The client is running Server '03 and several versions of Outlook clients. The issue does not seem to follow any particular user, version of Outlook, or time of day. I don't see a pattern anywhere.

    So, either *all* the clients have an issue or the server has an issue. I see no warnings or errors in the server's Event Log.

    The client runs with client machines Windows Firewall active. Each client machine has the server machine at a 'fully trust' setting.

    I've got two guesses:
    1. Outlook operates more consistently with some sort of firewall exception, although I'm not sure why this would be.

    2. The server is expected to run in domain, file, exchange, internal web, and external web capacities. It's a Celeron 2GHz with 512MB RAM. I think Outlook may be 'timing out' server requests on occassion, then kicking the user into 'offline mode'.

    This is one of those I could chase for hours and not make progress.

    Anyone have any ideas?
     
  2. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    Outlook times out on server requests just because Outlook is a piece of shit. The only way to get rid of those error messages completely is to shut them off.

    That said, you can definitely make some improvements to its performance.

    1. If the machines are on a network with a hardware firewall, shut off the Windows Firewall on the clients so CPU power doesn't get wasted checking packets that have already been checked.

    2. Create exemptions in each machine's virus scanner for *.PST and *.OST files, so they don't get rescanned every time a new email gets downloaded. (Any good virus scanner will scan the contents of new emails through the API interface of the email program anyway, so scanning the archive directly isn't necessary.)

    3. Enable "Cached Exchange Mode", so each client will store local copies of the email they receive. This takes up more disk space, but it keeps clients from having to ping the server every a user clicks from one email to the next.

    4. Set each client to download headers first, then email contents afterwards.
     
  3. Create

    Create :free at last:

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    Outlook timeouts happen, but then I think it kicks to offline mode, then the next time the user logs in it still works in offline mode, right up until they send an email. That's my theory at least.

    This whole thing was prompted by the following symptoms:
    1. A user recieved several email messages from last week just this morning. Messages from last Tuesday to Fri.
    2. Second user cannot open someone else's calendar.

    The second I solved by reconnecting Outlook. The first, though, I think is a symptom of the theory above.

    #1 - No hardware Firewall and internet traffic is not routed through a single computer where I could implement a software firewall.

    #2 - Previously implemented

    #3 - Implemented per your recommendation

    #4 - Implemented per your recommendation

    If I'm on the right track, all I need to do is to figure out a way to get Outlook to automatically retry to connect.

    edit: I wasn't running cached before and was not scanning .pst files. I expanded the scan exception to include .ost files. Above edited to reflect this.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2007
  4. 5Gen_Prelude

    5Gen_Prelude There might not be an "I" in the word "Team", but

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    Our exchange servers have 2 gigs of memory (they were originally just 1 gig). It made a big difference to small timeouts.

    And wowza - get yourself a hardware firewall already.
     
  5. Create

    Create :free at last:

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    I am playing with a dummy acount in cached mode to learn more (like .ost is the local cache).

    I guess implemented wasn't really correct, as I quickly found out I don't know much about it.

    If I download the headers first, body after does that mean I'll *only* download headers until the email is opened, or that it just downloads the headers first so they pop into view quicker?

    I have ten maximum users for about 30min/day, then average five users during working hours. Client machines are P4'ish, top end user doesn't even hit 512MB memory requirement, ever. Email volume is average.

    Based on the info so far, can you recommend some cached mode control settings to start with? I don't have the experience to make an informed desicion to move anything from default.

    Where can I read more about the controls for cached mode, like file size limit, replication interval, etc.? I'm learning a ton but don't expect you to write me a tutorial :)

    My plan is to implement this in my client's site, work out any kinks, then take it to my full-time (larger network, more demanding users, more decision-making influence). All your recommendations make alot of sense to me.

    Thanks for the help :)
     
  6. Create

    Create :free at last:

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    This is a client's site. I've got no control over their budget. This is a small business as well, with only a few months of sales under their belt. I recommended a firewall when we first put the network together.

    I know you're saying 2GB, but you're comparing this tiny little office to a network large enough to support a dedicated exchange server. THat's not a bad idea, though. Maybe I should recommend we pop another 512MB into the server and see what happens.
     

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