Outlook 2003, Unable to resolve Exchange Server

By ThumbsUp2 ·
Well, it appears as though it's my turn to have to ask for some HELP!!!!!!!!!!! You know how much I hate it when I can't figure something out myself! And, this one is driving me BONKERS! Forgive me for the really long post, but I'd like to try and get a hint on what to look for before I make the 3 1/2 hour drive, one way, to the site AGAIN so I can try and see if I can get this one fixed.

2 Intel PIV 3200 computers and a laptop, all running WinXP Pro SP2
LAN is peer-to-peer workgroup w/shares
Office 2003 (SP3) on all computers
All using Outlook 2003 for Exchange email
Exchange Server 2003 is hosted externally by 3rd party (Denver)
DSL internet access for whole office using Westel 2400 4 port modem/router

Recent changes in company policy have forced us to uninstall some of the software/tools that we've used for years because of possible licensing issues. Adaware is one of the things we must pull off. After doing the uninstalls on all systems in one remote office, the main computer in the office (not others though) developed some quirky things in Outlook. For example, with Word set as the email editor, clicking NEW to start a new email would just hang. Word wouldn't fire up. Switching back to the Outlook editor restored his ability to create new email. But, using either HTML or RTF format for new emails, he only had access to a few formatting features, but not all that should have been there. And, he couldn't reply to ANY emails. They would sit in the Outbox and not even attempt to send. But, he could forward emails and send new ones, all going around (bypassing) the ones still sitting in the Outbox (really strange). Nothing we tried while working with him over the phone would fix the problem.

So, on Monday of this week, I bit the bullet and made the long drive. Upon arrival, I found several instances of outlook.exe running in the task manager processes even though only one showed up under task manager applications and on the task bar. I exited the one on the taskbar normally, but it was still running in the task manager under processes, not under applications though. I proceeded to end all instances of outlook.exe in the processes, but when I clicked to end the last one, it crashed... big time... report sent to MS. I rebooted the machine and fired up Outlook again, but it wouldn't fully load. It never asked for the password, it didn't indicate that it was attempting to either connect or working offline or even trying to connect (no status showed) and it appeared to partially hung. The Send/Receive button was missing. On the file menu, the "Work Offline" option was missing. And, a whole lot of other things in the menus just weren't there. It was as if Outlook was offline, but the status indicator showed nothing. I tried several times, rebooting between tries, to no avail. It just wouldn't load.
Thinking that the crash and the previous uninstalls had corrupted something, I uninstalled Office, rebooted and reinstalled it, checked to make sure all of the applications except Outlook would fire up, then went to MS update, authenticated and installed the only update that it said was needed, which was SP3. Everything appeared to go flawlessly, no errors or hickups. I fired up Outlook without setting up any email accounts, as we normally do just to get it through first use. It opened with the old PST file still intact. I exited Outlook so I could go create the mail profile for the exchange server, and the program terminated normally. No crashes and nothing left hanging in the the task manager processes.

Here's where the fun begins. Upon trying to create the mail profile I hit a brick wall. Normally we fill in the server name, check to use cashed exchange mode, fill in the user name, click more settings and fill in the security and connection options (proxy) required by our Exchange server and click OK and finish. At this point the server has not yet resolved, but that's how our hosting company has us do things to use RPC over HTTP. It's their instructions, not mine. Normally, after this is all done, we fire up Outlook and, once the server resolves on first try, it asks for the password and connects. However, this time, when Outlook was started, it hesitated and finally timed out attempting to resolve the server name saying: "Outlook could not log on. Check to make sure you are connected to the network and are using the proper server and mailbox name. The connection to the Microsoft Exchange Server is unavailable. Outlook must be online or connected to complete this action."

...... ok..... ummm.... we ARE connected.... Other computers in the office run Outlook and connect just fine. I can ping the server from this computer. I can telnet to the server AND connect through both ports needed for RPC over HTTP (telnet 135 AND telnet 435 .. or was it 436? can't remember now, but it connected). I can use the browser from this computer and navigate to any web site I want to go, including logging into his account through OWA.... we ARE connected, but Outlook can't find the server on this one computer. I can set up his account on any of the other computers and it will resolve and connect just fine.

It got late, so I had to leave it and head back home (whew! what a drive over 4 snowy mountain passes in 4W drive!!!!). Then, I spent two days on the phone back and forth with the Exchange Server Tech Support, the remote office, the ISP and everybody else I could think of that might be able to help. Nothing we've tried will get Outlook past this one error message.... "Outlook could not log on......". It refuses to resolve.

Since we've narrowed everything down to the problem being ON this particular computer, I'll be making the trip once again tomorrow (Thursday), installation disks in hand. I plan to uninstall again, run ccleaner to try and pull all traces of Outlook out, clean up the users' Windows profile, check for viruses/spyware....yadda, yadda, yadda... and reinstall once again.

What else can I look for in the computer itself? Would a corrupt HOST file do this? What would I look for to see if it's corrupt? What else can get corrupted after uninstalling other software or an Outlook crash? The registry itself? Anything else you can think of for me to look for? Point me in the right direction, please?

<edited to correct spelling>

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It must be in the registry.

by bart777 In reply to Outlook 2003, Unable to r ...

Since this is the only box giving you problems it must be in the registry.
If it were a HOST file you would have issues getting to the OWA and telnet as well.

I would take the path you're on.
Uninstall Office.
Run the clean up.
Then manually remove the folders
manually go thru the registry and find any others that might be there.
Make sure the files in the Program Files\Common files are are gone.
Build the user a new windows profile.
Reinstall office
Say a prayer. :)
Fire it up.

If it still doesn't work the only thing left is a format C. You've already spent so much time on this box it's probably not worth any more time trying to solve it.

Best of luck,
Drive safely.

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Thanks Bart....

by ThumbsUp2 In reply to It must be in the registr ...

I think I'll toss in the Windows Installer Cleanup Utility as well, after the uninstall and other types of cleanup.

Drive safely? Always! I see though, this morning says there's severe winter storm warnings over 3 of the 4 passes I have to go through.

TGF 4x4 n chains!

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by LocoLobo In reply to Outlook 2003, Unable to r ...

This may sound wierd but compare the DNS Servers for that machine to some of the others. We are running 2 networks on the same subnet. In order for Outlook to find the correct server we have to set the Preferred DNS server to the DC with Exchange 2003. This probably isn't your problem, but it's worth checking.

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Thanks, I will....

by ThumbsUp2 In reply to DNS?

There's only one DNS server involved, but it could be flaky as well... I'll look at it when I get there. Couldn't see anything over the phone and the person on the other end may not have known what to look for.

While I'm there, I'm also going to try and get VNC through the darned firewall too, so I can remote in. To date, we've been unsuccessfull. Maybe I need a bigger hammer.

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It's fixed.... sort of...

by ThumbsUp2 In reply to Outlook 2003, Unable to r ...

Well, it's fixed... but found another problem.

Nothing I tried would allow Outlook 2003 to resolve the Exchange server. Uninstall, registry cleaning, Windows Installer Cleanup, ScanPST, spyware/antivirus scanning, checked services running, checked DNS, etc..., etc..., etc...! Same error kept coming up no matter what I did. Can't resolve the Exchange server.

But, while digging around, I found McAfee Enterprise 8 was also refusing to update itself saying the Common Updater failed (I still have to try and fix this tomorrow). And, the service wasn't running. So, I uninstalled McAfee on the outside chance that it's problems were causing Outlook's problems. Guess what? The danged thing resolved and connected right away.

So, McAfee's problems seems to be what was causing the problem in Outlook all along. This would explain why Outlook just quit working all of a sudden. When McAfee went, it locked down Outlook, somehow.

I downloaded and installed AVG for the time being until we can figure out why McAfee refuses to work on this one machine. Who knows, maybe HQ forgot to pay the bill for this particular license!

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not surprised at all

by CG IT In reply to It's fixed.... sort of... ...

I've never liked McAfee since the late 1990s when if you installed the thing, your computer ran 10X slower than without it and sometimes not at all. Very active AV program.

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I agree....

by ThumbsUp2 In reply to not surprised at all

Unfortunately, that's what the company picked to use throughout.

It was in the late 90's when I began hating it too. When I worked at the little Mom/Pop Computer store, we put McAfee on all new systems that we sold. It was part of the package deal and we showed people how to use it and keep it up to date. In the late 90's, McAfee's interface became so UN user freindly, especially for people who are computer illiterate (newbies), we just couldn't justify the technical support time that it took to teach people how to use it. Even us Tech's had a hard time figuring out how to update it back then. And, as you said, it weighted the system down so bad, you couldn't hardly tell you had a new computer.

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