Q

Problems receiving and sending email in Outlook

SearchExchange.com expert Brad Dinerman helps an Exchange administrator troubleshoot a user's inability to send or receive email messages in Microsoft Outlook, and explains why the likely culprit is an antivirus scanner or other egregious software on the server.

We have a user whose outgoing email sits in his outbox until he clicks something else in Microsoft Outlook (menu, email, folder, anything). This also happens to incoming email. If he leaves Microsoft Outlook alone for a while, no email is received.

This is not a profile issue as he has tested this on another system, and another user has logged onto his system with the same results. None of us have seen this before, so I was hoping you may be able to shed some light on these problems about sending email in Outlook. We are running Windows 2000 with Exchange 2000 SP3.

What you are seeing is not new; my own company experiences this issue, and users in general have been reporting it since the release of Outlook 2000, and perhaps earlier. The most likely cause of this problem is an antivirus scanner or other software on the server.

One good way to test and prove this theory is to uninstall all non-Microsoft, Exchange Server-related software on your server and workstation. After you remove each application, test Microsoft Outlook. Did the problem go away? If so, you found your culprit.

If you don't want to deal with the hassle of uninstalling all your software (who would?), there's a good chance that the message will eventually be sent and appear in the Sent Items folder anyway, even if you don't click on anything else. The time for this to occur could be anywhere from a few seconds to a minute, based on my personal experience.

MEMBER FEEDBACK TO THIS ASK THE EXPERT Q&A:

We have the same problem with sending email (with Outlook 2003 clients). The only fix I've found is to uncheck the option to use Exchange Server's cached mode.
Michelle R.

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We had this problem, too. I believe it was a DNS issue.
Wendy W.

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I think it's a DNS issue on the user's machine. I have seen this happen twice before. If it's been given the wrong DNS address to look up, there's a delay in resolving the lookup.
Kevin S.

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I've seen this a lot on my system, I hope this can help you:

First of all, you can rest easy that the mail will be sent immediately (depending on the size of any attachments and speed of your server). Test sending an external email to an online account. It should receive the message even though it still 'shows' in your Outbox. If you change folders, it will update the folder and show it in Sent Items (demonstrating this is definitely a refresh issue between client and server).

Work around this by forcing a Send/Receive every 5 minutes. This shouldn't affect network performance; it only takes a couple seconds to action and since users logon at different times, the workload is spread nicely.

In Outlook, click on Tools -> Options -> Mail Setup -> Send/Receive, then tick the box for Schedule automatic send/receive every {5} minutes.

It's important that you don't uninstall antivirus software. It is essential security for you and provided for a very good reason.

The sending of items is one thing, but if you don't schedule an automatic send/receive you may miss important inbound messages, some of which may be time-critical. You can't afford just to wait and hope you remember to switch folders from time to time.

If Brad is right about the antivirus software, then take his advice on one machine and test it (just be sure to leave the desktop antivirus intact). You should immediately approach your antivirus vendor for an update to fix the issue.
Jon C.

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Another possible cause is if the user is utilizing cached mode and has a mailbox over 2 GB in size. This is because the offline file on the user's PC has a size limitation of 2 GB and will not allow mail to be sent or received. To overcome this:

  1. Delete old unwanted messages to reduce the mailbox size.
  2. Turn off cache mode so that messages are not stored in the offline folder.
  3. Archive some messages to an alternate storage area (i.e., a network share).

Phil R.

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I found another post that stated adding outlook.exe to Windows Firewall on a client machine fixed the problem.

I hope this helps other users.
Chris V. P.

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I found that the information in Microsoft's article, "You cannot receive any new email notifications in Microsoft Outlook 2000 when you use the Network Address Translation (NAT)," works for this issue.
John N.

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This was first published in May 2006

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