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RPC Popups

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RPC Popups - 1.Jun.2010 11:21:36 AM   
srunnels

 

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I've been banging my head against this for close to a week now. I'm not the primary admin for the exchange server but I've been tasked with fixing this problem since he's away.

I'll try to give a short description of your network setup.

We have three offices each connected with dual T1s. The mail server( exchange 5.5 ) is at HQ. Until very recently our primary internet connection was coming in to Site 2, however, we recently leased a line with a higher data rate and changed the ingress/egress point to HQ. Unfortunately, when we did this we started getting the RPC popup notifications that "outlook is attempting to retrieve data from ( FQDN of our mail server )." The users at HQ don't see this message but the users at Site 1 and Site 2 both experience the problem.

Unfortunately I've found that a lot of diagnostic tools( exmon, ExBPA, ExTRA ) are not supported for Exchange 5.5 so I've been trying to use the performance monitor and wireshark to see where a bottleneck would be occurring.

Some things I've found while attempting to diagnose the problem include: A lot of users( >50% ) with more than 5,000 items reported in "Mailbox Resources". Read Bytes RPC Clients/sec and Write Bytes RPC Clients/sec are both very spikey and constantly at 100 in the performance monitor. RPC Requests and RPC requests Peak are both very low - to the point that I'm not sure it's being reported correctly. When I sample with Wireshark I'll often see a large amount of data being passed to/from a number of clients. Often the top user( rarely the same user ) accounts for more than double the amount of data passed than the next highest.

If anyone has anything thoughts I'd greatly appreciate them.

Thank you,
Scott
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RE: RPC Popups - 1.Jun.2010 11:38:15 AM   
mark@mvps.org

 

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Speeding up the link will move the problem. As you've seen the problem is moved from a choked link to an "idle" server to a fat link with a suddenly busy server.
So, 5,000 items in a folder is going to be a horror for an Exchange 2007 hosted mailbox. You can imagine the nightmare it's going to be for Exchange 5.5.

Yup, bottom line is that you've moved the problem and that's impacted everyone. You're going to have to talk to management about that and remind them that Exchange 5.5 is a million years old and is simply not up to the job of processing today's messaging world.

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Mark Arnold (Exchange MVP)
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(in reply to srunnels)
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RE: RPC Popups - 1.Jun.2010 11:45:16 AM   
srunnels

 

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Thanks a lot for your reply Mark.

My leading theory has been that it's related to the number of items in critical folders. As I said, 50% of people are over 5,000 items and around 30% are over 10k. The leader is currently 87k! I'd been doing some research and a couple sources cited that it's not the "Total K" field to be looking at but the "Total Items" field. In fact, the user with 87k total items also has "Total K" entry of 0, which is somewhat confusing!

Would a campaign to reduce the number of items ( by forcing users into using archive .psts ) be likely to show a marked improvement? Are there any metrics I can try to track via Performance Monitor or Wireshark to help clarify the point to those I need to convince?

Again, thank you for your time
Scott

(in reply to mark@mvps.org)
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RE: RPC Popups - 1.Jun.2010 11:55:13 AM   
mark@mvps.org

 

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Well, there's a problem. If you encourage the use of PST files you're going to take the problem off the Exchange server and put it somewhere else. If you put PST files on local PCs you're going to have a backup nightmare - probably not actually doing backups. If you don't have a decent/recent version of Outlook you're going to antagonise the users because searching will be horrible for them. If you put the PST files onto a file server you won't be supported (not really relevant since you're a long long long way out of support with 5.5 anyway) and your file server will have open connections and network congestion.
Splitting up work into folders will help. A lot.
Really though there is a strong argument that you've spend infrastructure money on new network when the email part could have been solved by Exchange 2007/10 and Outlook 2007/2010 in cached mode.

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RE: RPC Popups - 1.Jun.2010 12:04:42 PM   
srunnels

 

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When you say splitting work into folders will help are you referring to having users create folders within outlook and simply sorting mail that way? Would that reduce the load since they're not in "Critical Folders"( inbox, sent, calendar, contacts, if I recall correctly )

We do have plans to migrate to Outlook 2003 and I'm of the opinion that this latest round problems will force that move much sooner!

(in reply to mark@mvps.org)
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RE: RPC Popups - 1.Jun.2010 12:09:27 PM   
mark@mvps.org

 

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Exchange won't enumerate the view unless someone opens the folder. You open the inbox folder all the time. The structure of the database makes for bad performance and a lot of churning on the server. Since you have a 5.5 server I can bet your disks are both few in number and probably slower in speed than today's disks.

Separate folder structures won't hinder searching, given a decent version of Outlook......
Save yourself the money on 2003. Go straight to 2010. Update the Exchange as soon as funds allow.

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Mark Arnold (Exchange MVP)
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(in reply to srunnels)
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RE: RPC Popups - 1.Jun.2010 12:18:26 PM   
srunnels

 

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Just testing on my own machine, creating a new folder and tossing everything but today's mail into the folder didn't reduce my "Total K", "Total Items" or "Deleted Items K" as reported by the Mailbox Resources in MSExchange Admin. Will I be able to track who has/hasn't made the changes to their inbox to reduce the number of items or will hands-on checks be required. I assume that sorting/clearing Sent Items would be required as well.

I think we already have a copy of Outlook 2003 but there have been migration problems when the admin has attempted to perform them. If we're looking at no more/less of a headache by moving to 2010 I'll certainly make that suggestion.

Again, Mark, thank you for your time,
Scott

(in reply to mark@mvps.org)
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RE: RPC Popups - 1.Jun.2010 12:27:42 PM   
mark@mvps.org

 

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The number of items won't change, nor will the size. The point is that Outlook won't force Exchange to generate views which churns disk and gives everyone the queuing message.
It's not all a bed of roses and as long as you stick with Exchange 5.5 nothing is going to cure the problem. All you're doing, as with everything in IT, is moving the problem and, in this case, delaying and minimizing the problem occurring.

You're going to mitigate as much as you can and manage the rest of it. Take this away though, get the folder content down.

_____________________________

Mark Arnold (Exchange MVP)
List Moderator

(in reply to srunnels)
Post #: 8
RE: RPC Popups - 14.Jun.2010 10:04:24 PM   
srunnels

 

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I'm still trying to work this issue and have been seeing the RPC errors generated at times when load should be almost 0. I'm fairly certain that a change in our network topology is to blame here as well.

We have three sites. Previously, our internet connection came into Site A while the exchange server was housed in Site B and each site is connected by two T1s( A to B, B to C, C to A ). When we upgraded the internet connection we moved the incoming line from Site A to Site B. The RPC problems started almost immediately. Each site has a domain controller designated as a Global Catalog.

We've been working with users to minimize their inboxes but i'm still confounded at the generation of RPC notifications when I'm the only connection.

(in reply to mark@mvps.org)
Post #: 9

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