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Outlook 2010 - Contacting server for information

    Question

  • When attempting to print an email that contains many embedded html links (Avis Rentals, SouthWestern Airlines, etc.), Outlook 2010 has a pop-up that reads "Contacting the server for information" where it sits for at least 15 minutes. (I know this has been asked many times, but I've not found a solution.)

    Details:

     - This error occurs when running through my firewall, or having the firewall disabled, or the DMZ, or connected directly to our ISP.

     - The time it takes for the Preview to appear is directly related to the number of links/images the email contains.  The more links I remove from the code, the faster it downloads (by faster, I mean it goes from 15 minutes to 10 minutes.)

     - Packet inspection shows Outlook (and Word, as they share an html engine), downloading the same links over and over.

     - I have tried this on Windows 7 (64 and 32), and Windows XP (64 and 32), running Office 2010 with Exchange 2010.  We did not have this problem until we installed Outlook 2010.

     - Tried Office 2010 SP1, but did not fix the problem.

     - Problem occurs to a lesser extent when tryng to forward the email - it takes about 2 minutes to forward.

     - Word Trust Center logging and Outlook Troubleshoot logging does not show anything.

     - Have tried Exchange Cached mode, disabling add-ins, having Outlook use html to connect to Exchange, Turning off Exchange to Outlook encryption, disabling Outlook Anywhere, removed all Add-ins,  etc.

    Are there any other suggestions?  Is there an official fix? 

     



    Thursday, August 25, 2011 7:13 PM

All replies

  • Hi

    Is this issue occuring for all the users or for single user. What is the size of the mailbox that is having this issue?

    How the outlook profile is configured? Is that using Auto discover?

    Can you check whether any error apearing while performing Test Email configuration?

    Friday, August 26, 2011 12:27 PM
  • Thank you for responding!

     

    It occurs for all users that receive a heavily embedded email (We have approx 400 mailboxes).  The mailbox size varies from a brand new account with an empty mailbox to heavy users with multiple 4GB mailboxes. 

    Outlook profile is using Auto Discover.

    There are no errors when performing a Test Email Configuration.

    Friday, August 26, 2011 3:12 PM
  • Hi Farls123,

     

    From your description, I understand that when a user of Outlook 2010 print an email that contains many embedded html links (Avis Rentals, SouthWestern Airlines, etc.), Outlook 2010 has a pop-up that read” Contacting the server for information", right?

     

    Per my knowledge, this is a new design change introduced in Outlook 2010 for security reasons and also to keep end user informed, that Outlook is communicating back to server to get the external data hosted there. If there is a Proxy server in the environment, that could slower the process even more.

     

    Thanks,


    Evan

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 7:45 AM
  • That's the problem exactly.  But I believe it is bugged (from what I've read, it's the non-complaint html engine that is new to Office 2010 that is causing the problem, but I can not confirm this.)  When I look at the firewall activity, Outlook appears to be downloading the same graphic file 20 or 30 times before moving on to the next graphic, which it will also download 20 or 30 times.  This makes printing an email a 20 minute process. 

    We do not have a proxy server, but I did test it with one and it did slow it down more.

     

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 2:06 PM
  • We have the same issue here with similar symptoms.

     

    Exchange 2010 (SBS2011, all the latest service packs/patches)
    Outlook 2010 (64-Bit) on users PC's (all the latest service packs/patches)
    All users affected
    Only happens on HTML emails when we are replying or forwarding, or when we are trying to Print.

    Very frustrating, however ours isn't 15 minutes, we are only a few minutes each time, but still equally as frustrating.

    Our firewall doesn't do any HTTP inspection at all.

    Would love to hear of a fix!

    Tuesday, September 06, 2011 7:47 AM
  • I am having the same problem--only I am not on Exchange. I run Outlook 2010 offline and sync to my own domains / email servers on-demand.  The "Contacting server for information" message window now appears after manually syncing. The window cycles off-and-on every 3-4 seconds.

    The only way to make it stop is to close Outlook--if you are fast enough to close it when the "Contacting server" window is off-screen.  Occasionally restarting Outlook will fix the problem.  However, more often than not I need to reboot the PC.

    This started happening in the past ~ two months; I suspect after an Office 2010 update or a Windows update (not sure which).

    This is definitely a code bug.

    Outlook 2010 Version 14.0.6023.1000 (32-bit).
    Windows 7, 64-bit.


    Karl
    Tuesday, September 06, 2011 9:34 PM
  • This bug has been in the Outlook 2010 code from the very beginning.  I've been experiencing this problem since I first upgraded to 2010.  Microsoft must be aware of it...why is it taking them over two years to fix such a critical bug?
    • Proposed as answer by Patches_09 Thursday, October 27, 2011 1:48 PM
    Sunday, September 11, 2011 4:26 PM
  • We've just started getting the same problem . . . not using Exchange. Anyone found a solution to this as yet?
    Friday, October 21, 2011 1:54 AM
  • This issue has now stopped for me.  Are you running any of the following third-party applications: xobni, Google Calendar synch, or MailWasher?
    Karl
    Friday, October 28, 2011 2:28 PM
  • We have same problem. I agree with Farls123 100%. Microsoft needs to fix this issue. We do not run any of these 3rd party applications google, etc.. Its seems like its a bug if Outlook has to download the same HTML code 20-30 times through the firewall for one email..
    Friday, November 04, 2011 2:58 PM
  • I'M having the same problem but my problem last for hours not minutes.  i'm using google calendar synch and it just started happening 2 days ago.  But other users are not using google or any other 3rd party app.  this is a MS outlook problem with out question.  i do feel its something with html settings within outlook. 
    Wednesday, November 16, 2011 12:30 PM
  • I am having the same problem as you guys. For me it happens when I try to print an itunes receipt to any of my virtual printers. 

    I am getting really tired of dealing with this stuff. Can´t find the functions in Word/Excel that I most commonly need, Outlook freezes, behaves strangely like this and my whole Windows 7 system falls over again and again. 

    This is it. Tomorrow I am getting a Mac. Not that I expect everything to be perfect there, but I have never experience the whole computer being frozen. 

    I will make sure to stay away from Microsoft products in the future. It is time for the old developers and product managers to go and start over again as building on top of it will not make the product any better. I understand that it is hard to support so many different hardware and other software plugins, but that is exactly where Apple is strong.

    Goodbye MS

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012 11:32 AM
  • Thanks for your accurate description of the issue Farls123.  I am experiencing the same problem as well.   

    I have searched for a solution but couldn't.  will keep searching and experimenting

    Friday, March 23, 2012 9:09 PM
  • Hi guys,

    we got the same problem, any solution yet?

    bye

    Wednesday, April 25, 2012 8:18 AM
  • Just started having this problem today. I do have Google calendar sync, but I cannot imagine why  that would be the problem. Anywho, it is very disappointing to see that MS has not done anything about it for over a year. I am a big fan of MS and I use Office 2010 routinely without any issues.

    Developer/Helpdesk Support

    Thursday, June 28, 2012 6:43 PM
  • Worked with Microsoft for hours today with what I call the "itinerary" issue.  Outlook emails with certain linked images will lock up Outlook.  They do not have a fix.  We even tried the just released (today) June hotfix.

    They suggest using OWA when working with affected messages until it is fixed.

    The blockhttpimages regfix works, but blocks other kinds of images and can be alarming for users:

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Common]
    "BlockHTTPImages"=dword:00000001

    Thursday, June 28, 2012 10:37 PM
  • Microsoft says that Outlook freezes "by design" and that they are not going to be working on this issue.  Below is their explaination and proposed solutions:

    Issue Statement:

    • Outlook contacting server for information when replying/forwarding and printing emails with HTML contents and images.
    • The behavior that we are experiencing is expected when we have Outlook 2007 and above which does not cache message references (hyperlinked images in our case). Reason behind this is an expected behavior is Outlook 2007 and above versions do not keep the reference data of message/email body. The time it points to references data from specific location which is mentioned in hyperlink, which is nothing but advanced HTML content which renders based hyperlink. Unless the entire content is downloaded Outlook.exe will wait, once entire content is fetched in email Outlook.exe process will respond back. So the hang that is experienced is moreover an expected behavior when we have such advanced HTML content. This behavior with advanced HTML content is known to Microsoft since product is designed to wait until the content is loaded 100%.

    Symptom:

    • Outlook contacting server for information when replying/forwarding/printing emails with HTML content.

    Cause:

    • This is a known issue when you are dealing with HTML emails which have the images on a different server and are not embedded images.

    • When you open HTML emails which have images that are stored on another server Outlook will contact the server to download the images every time you open the Email. It won’t save it locally as the image is not a content of the Email. The emails only have links of the images which is actually on another server.

    • So when you forward or print Outlook will contact the server once again which ultimately will take some time to download the images.

    • In Outlook 2010, default and the only rendering engine is Word, and since Word is not a browser each image is considered separate from any other (a unique link).  This is unlike a web browser which treats images like a pool of resources and will reuse the same one over and over if two tags share the same link path.  So whereas a browser only needs to pull the image once, word will pull it for every image.  In addition, word don’t guarantee rendering of content designed for web pages and not email.

    • Reading the email is OK because we can download images in the background (it is a synch).  But to forward or print, we have to pull the images synchronously because we need the download to complete before we can proceed to the next step.  So the reason it only occurs on those steps is by design. 

    Resolution:                       

    • This is a by design issue.
    • We have listed a few workarounds below:-

    Options:

    • Uncheck the option in Trust Centre "Don't download pictures automatically in HTML e-mail messages or RSS items." which you have already tried and it is working for some emails but not all.
    • You may create a Registry Key as mentioned below which gives you the same behavior as the first step:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Common

    Dword: BlockHTTPImages

    Value: 1

    • You can open the Email in Web Browser by opening the Email and going to Actions -> View in Browser.
    • In Outlook 2010, under File tab, Options, locate: Replies and forwards: there is the option of four ways of forwarding email:


    • Edited by ctircuit Monday, July 02, 2012 11:08 PM
    • Proposed as answer by Stanav Friday, July 06, 2012 4:15 PM
    Monday, July 02, 2012 9:54 PM
  • Microsoft says that Outlook freezes "by design" and that they are not going to be working on this issue.  Below is their explaination and proposed solutions:

    Issue Statement:

    • Outlook contacting server for information when replying/forwarding and printing emails with HTML contents and images.
    • The behavior that we are experiencing is expected when we have Outlook 2007 and above which does not cache message references (hyperlinked images in our case). Reason behind this is an expected behavior is Outlook 2007 and above versions do not keep the reference data of message/email body. The time it points to references data from specific location which is mentioned in hyperlink, which is nothing but advanced HTML content which renders based hyperlink. Unless the entire content is downloaded Outlook.exe will wait, once entire content is fetched in email Outlook.exe process will respond back. So the hang that is experienced is moreover an expected behavior when we have such advanced HTML content. This behavior with advanced HTML content is known to Microsoft since product is designed to wait until the content is loaded 100%.

    Symptom:

    • Outlook contacting server for information when replying/forwarding/printing emails with HTML content.

    Cause:

    • This is a known issue when you are dealing with HTML emails which have the images on a different server and are not embedded images.

    • When you open HTML emails which have images that are stored on another server Outlook will contact the server to download the images every time you open the Email. It won’t save it locally as the image is not a content of the Email. The emails only have links of the images which is actually on another server.

    • So when you forward or print Outlook will contact the server once again which ultimately will take some time to download the images.

    • In Outlook 2010, default and the only rendering engine is Word, and since Word is not a browser each image is considered separate from any other (a unique link).  This is unlike a web browser which treats images like a pool of resources and will reuse the same one over and over if two tags share the same link path.  So whereas a browser only needs to pull the image once, word will pull it for every image.  In addition, word don’t guarantee rendering of content designed for web pages and not email.

    • Reading the email is OK because we can download images in the background (it is a synch).  But to forward or print, we have to pull the images synchronously because we need the download to complete before we can proceed to the next step.  So the reason it only occurs on those steps is by design. 

    Resolution:                       

    • This is a by design issue.
    • We have listed a few workarounds below:-

    Options:

    • Uncheck the option in Trust Centre "Don't download pictures automatically in HTML e-mail messages or RSS items." which you have already tried and it is working for some emails but not all.
    • You may create a Registry Key as mentioned below which gives you the same behavior as the first step:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Common

    Dword: BlockHTTPImages

    Value: 1

    • You can open the Email in Web Browser by opening the Email and going to Actions -> View in Browser.
    • In Outlook 2010, under File tab, Options, locate: Replies and forwards: there is the option of four ways of forwarding email:


    Thank you for the info. At least I have something to explain to my users now. Can you kindly post actual the link to where you get this info from?
    Friday, July 06, 2012 4:14 PM
  • Hi Stanav -

    There's no link, sorry.  Note that the suggested option in Trust Center doesn't actually work.  The only two options right now are to use OWA when working with these messages or to use the BlockHTTPImages key.

    UPDATE:

    After I complained that this shouldn't be a "by design issue" (Microsoft's words, see above), Microsoft has since escalated my ticket.  We've run a trace on a PC trying to forward, reply to, or print one of these problem messages and can see Outlook constantly retrying the external websites linked to in the problem messages.  It would be nice if Outlook stopped retrying after 30 seconds or so.

    Anyway, when I hear back from Microsoft next week, I will post an update.


    • Edited by ctircuit Friday, July 06, 2012 4:47 PM
    Friday, July 06, 2012 4:47 PM
  • That's great you are getting somewhere with Microsoft!

    Thank you for posting your progress.

    Friday, July 06, 2012 6:08 PM
  • Hi There,

    Sounds like the exact issue we are having with a client we have managed for years who is a local travel agent here in Sydney AUS.

    We've installed new HP desktops running Windows 7 Pro x 64 , with 8GB Ram and Outlook 2010. They reported to us their PC's were freezing or not responding. After digging deeper today this is exactly the issue I found.

    Because they get so many emails with HTML travel industry or airline content these emails connect back to the orgin server to download the content in full thus taking way too much time. Working by design just doesnt work for the end user. We never had this issue when they were running older desktops with Office 2007. There needs to be an urgent fix as the client believes the desktops are the issue.

    Regards

    Warren

    Monday, July 09, 2012 2:01 PM
  • I too was having the same issue. Has there been any success with this issue? The OWA is a simple enough work around but I prefer not to open it every time I get an email from Delta.
    • Proposed as answer by LucasDreyer Wednesday, August 08, 2012 7:10 AM
    • Unproposed as answer by LucasDreyer Wednesday, August 08, 2012 7:11 AM
    • Proposed as answer by LucasDreyer Wednesday, August 08, 2012 7:11 AM
    • Unproposed as answer by LucasDreyer Wednesday, August 08, 2012 7:11 AM
    • Proposed as answer by LucasDreyer Wednesday, August 08, 2012 7:20 AM
    Tuesday, August 07, 2012 7:34 PM
  • After working with Microsoft on this I am convinced the problem is with the images in the emails that fail.  We ran a trace and found that the images linked to were either not available or improperly designed or both and Outlook retries every one.  You can cancel repeatedly (20x for airline itineraries) or block images using the registry kludge.  Ultimately, airlines and othersite using imbedded images need to fix their emails and/or their sites.  Here is a trace and Microsoft commentary about a sample itinerary email:

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Email Subject: eTicket Itinerary

    This email is the itinerary and Outlook user is experiencing same issue while printing and forwarding this particular message

    We gathered fiddler trace while reproducing this issue and below is what I found in fiddler trace

    GET http://uwebadmin/img/eTicket/Bullets/dot_Small.gif

    502 Fiddler - DNS Lookup Failed (text/html)

    GET http://uwebadmin/img/eTicket/Bullets/dot_Small.gif

    502 Fiddler - DNS Lookup Failed (text/html)

    GET http://uwebadmin/img/eTicket/Bullets/dot_Small.gif

    502 Fiddler - DNS Lookup Failed (text/html)

    Outlook was trying to connect to the above URL (highlighted in yellow) and was failing. Outlook tried connecting to this 88 times.

    Try to browse the above URL in a browser http://uwebadmin/img/eTicket/Bullets/dot_Small.gif  and the DNS will not able to resolve this for you.

    The key factor in the delay we are seeing is a 1x2.gif image.  In your first sample  email labeled “eTicket Itinerary”; this HTML code contains  88 of these images in the body.  The original message was designed like a web page, and apparently the web designer felt they couldn’t trust the browser to handle cell spacing and non-breakable spaces, and decided to use a transparent 1x2 pixel GIF image instead.  So any place in the message they wanted to enforce a space, they used an image.  This is very bad for Office 2010, since each of these will require an Office Art (OART) shape and an explicit download of the image to include in the forwarded (or printed) email.  In addition, the server has placed the image on a share that is not supporting HTTP 1.1 OPTIONS verb, which eats up valuable time as the server bounces back an error on every image collection. 

    Simply put, Outlook and Word 2010 are not web browsers.  Each image is considered separate from any other (a unique link).  This is unlike a web browser which treats images like a pool of resources and will reuse the same one over and over if two tags share the same link path.  So whereas a browser only needs to pull the image once, we will pull it for every image.  In addition, given this scenario we don’t guarantee rendering of content designed for web pages and not email.  This is clearly web page designed. 

    In my opinion the use of images for spacing is a very pre-1998 rendering methodology, and extremely inefficient for modern HTML, but is clearly done for old browsers that didn’t support explicit table layout.  While the company might have wanted to render that way, it makes for an awful email content experience, since users cannot easily select or edit such non-space “spaces”. In addition, to attach each to the file would bulk up the email since each image would attach unique.  Bottom-line, the problem is due to the content itself.  It was not designed correctly for use as email (or should I say, in any email you would edit, or plan to view outside a web browser).

    Why we don’t see the performance hit when originally opening the email;   It’s been explained because we can download images in the background (it is asynchronous).  But to forward or print, we have to pull the images synchronously because we need the downloads to complete before we can proceed to the next step.  So the reason it only occurs on those specific HTML web sites is by  design. 

    I wanted to recap and  let you know up front, least two of the results from the repro steps are “by design”. 

    1) Using images for spacing; e.g. 1x2.gifs totalling 88 images in the body.

    2) Each image is downloaded independent and not shared from resource pool, making just collection of images a slow task (by design given the email).

    This explains why other HTML emails don’t exhibit this same performance hit by using more modern HTML designs.

     - Microsoft tech

    • Proposed as answer by Mack1975 Friday, August 24, 2012 6:21 PM
    Thursday, August 16, 2012 12:38 AM
  • Thank you for that thorough answer.  This should be in their KB somewhere.  
    Friday, August 24, 2012 6:23 PM
  • This helps to explain why the problem occurs; however the proposed work-arounds reduce the efficiency of using Office.  

    Is there any suggestion of Microsoft actually fixing the "design"?  

    It is not just airline emails but many other emails that cause this problem for me.  Am I supposed to tell each organisation to redesign their mail formats?  

    It also does not explain why this problem only started occurring when i upgraded my laptop (but not my software - as far as I can tell my configuration is the same).

    Monday, August 27, 2012 2:43 AM
  • Delete the Outlook profile.  Make sure you have all your office updates, recreate outlook profile.  Seems to have worked for now.
    Tuesday, October 09, 2012 11:51 PM
  • ctircuit's response is what helped my user today.  Generally not a good idea to turn off the automatic blocking of HTML e-mail message (due to Java exploits) but the View in Web Browser option worked well.
    Tuesday, October 16, 2012 1:25 PM
  • View in Browser is the simplest fix.  Whatever you do, don't try printing with HTML graphics from Outlook... especially Delta.
    Thursday, January 17, 2013 4:42 AM
  • this is correct..

    Thanks Prem P Rana MCSA Messaging 2003 MCSE 2003 Server MCTS MCITP Exchange 2007, 2010 Gurgaon, India http://blogs.msexchange-experts.com

    Thursday, June 27, 2013 5:54 PM
  • this is complete detail of this issue....

    Thanks Prem P Rana MCSA Messaging 2003 MCSE 2003 Server MCTS MCITP Exchange 2007, 2010 Gurgaon, India http://blogs.msexchange-experts.com

    Thursday, June 27, 2013 5:54 PM
  • I've seen this problem with emailed United itineraries and Hilton reservations.  I'll add others as I find them.
    Thursday, June 27, 2013 6:08 PM
  • I am seeing the same issue as well.   When I open outlook in safe mode (outlok /safe) it seems to work fine.  Is everyone else seeing the same issue?

     

    Friday, July 19, 2013 3:54 PM
  • There is a lot of discussion related to printing and forwarding e-mails. I am seeing this problem with simply selecting and deleting certain e-mails. it has happened twice now. outlook sits there churning and a popup says "contacting.........................".

    I do not see how this could be "by design"

    Thursday, August 01, 2013 3:56 PM
  • Suppossedly there is a fix for this in the just released Office 2010 SP2.  It is a listed fix in the info doc. 

    I imagine they simply shorted the timeout period so Outlook doesn't take so long trying to connect to unavailable servers.

    • Proposed as answer by Baasky007 Wednesday, September 11, 2013 3:58 PM
    • Unproposed as answer by Baasky007 Wednesday, September 11, 2013 3:58 PM
    Wednesday, August 07, 2013 5:50 PM
  • Your response was on August 7 but I just rec'd the alert about your response and it's 9/11 - Why such a delay with information he group with an alert....Hmmmmm

    Wednesday, September 11, 2013 4:02 PM
  • Never had this problem in Outlook 2010, but I just moved to Office 365, and now suddenly this is happening to me.  I'm trying to print out a Delta emailed itinerary and I've been staring at a "Contacting the server" message that appears and disappears constantly for the last 10 minutes.  Ah... and as I type this it finally finished.  Lookee that, it actually rendered the whole thing.  Good grief... that was ridiculous.

    Edit:  Oh for the love of...  It didn't allow me to select a printer when I first clicked into the print section, so once it finally finished whatever the hell it was doing for 10 minutes, I changed from the network printer to Adobe PDF, and now apparently it's downloading all the images again.  Deeply unhappy....
    • Edited by SilentAge Tuesday, September 17, 2013 9:05 PM
    Tuesday, September 17, 2013 9:01 PM
  • I've been having this problem on and off for the last few months. You can't even cancel out. It's completely ridiculous. Microsoft, are you going to do anything about it?
    Wednesday, September 18, 2013 12:34 AM
  • Hi ...that works for me....Thanks
    Tuesday, February 18, 2014 7:40 AM
  • Hello,

    Im having this issue since today, outlook 2010 and 2013. We only had changed the firewalls, but we had opened all the ports to avoid "problems" associated to the new firewalls.

    any suggest?

    Monday, March 10, 2014 6:45 PM