Exchange Server Issues — POP3 Looping

Problem: Tons of Old Duplicate Emails showing up in User’s Inbox. One user reported having 14,000 emails in his inbox. POP3 Connector errors on Windows2003 Server Event Logs.

Solution: Turns out, previous network admin had setup both the exchange mailboxes AND a pop3 retrieval for each account. So everytime a message was delivered, it was reinjected back into the queue, and sure enough, delivered again, and again, and again..

So, if you have this or similar problems, make sure that you arent looping the delivery. What I thought was weird was why it worked fine with SP1 and only started having issues upon the update to SP2.

Background/Experience: So this is a problem that had me stressed out all week. A company I do work for uses Windows Server 2003 for their office. All of their email is handled locally by Exchange. Well, the problem started out simple enough.. they reached the 16gb cap Microsoft had on Exchange 03 SP1, and it automatically shut down (good job Microsoft, great feature). So after a few minutes of searching, I enabled the temporary 17gb hack to allow me access to the db. I optimized the database and removed old messages, went through the users inboxes, removed deleted messages (some users in the office had over 2,000 messages in their trash), and optimized it as Microsoft said to do so on it tech articles for the issue. The DB file was a measly 9gb, almost half of what it was before, by the time I finished. I assumed it would be quite a while before they hit the max again, as it took them several years just to hit the 16gb. I fill them in on what had occurred and leave for the day thinking all is well.

The next day, I get a call. Same problem, email isnt working. I go back down there, only to be welcomed with the same errors. “Exchange DB has reached maximum size”…. but WAIT!!! the DB file is only 9gb still!! So after some more digging around, I find out that for some reason Exchange adds both files together and bases it off that (the DB file was 9gb, the stream file was another 9gb, 9+9=Too much for Microsoft Exchange SP1 to handle). Bah! Ok, it’s time to update to SP2, maybe it would be worth it.

So I install the SP2 Update and that’s when all hell starts. First, I start receiving hundreds of POP3 Connector Errors on the server’s Event Logs. I get several “Veryify Password for Mailbox” errors but, after checking, the previous admin had NO passwords setup for the email. How can a blank password be wrong?! So, I think, maybe it’s an issue with SP2 WANTING a password and there not being one. I try setting all the passwords to “password” temporarily, no help, still errors.

I spent several hours searching through the configuration only to be disappointed when everything appeared correct. It turned out to be right in front of my face! There were entries for POP3 Retrieval (the POP3 Connector Manager) so the mail system was retrieving the mail from itself repeatedly!! The entries were of course setup correctly… had they not been managing their mail locally! So after numerous hours of digging around, I finally nailed it. I removed the entries in the POP3 Manager and sure enough, things started functioning normally. Thank God. Life as usual can return to the office. I’m sure they’ll be glad to have their email working 100%!

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