NIC DNS Registration and Exchange Servers


Symptom

I recently worked with a customer who had introduced an Exchange 2013 Server into an existing Exchange 2007 environment. The issue was the 2013 Server was unable to send email anywhere; neither externally or to other Exchange Servers. If you executed the below command to view the status of the transport queues you received the below output:

Get-Queue <Queue Identity> | FL

NIC

Specifically, the error message you would receive is “4.4.0 DNS query failed. The error was: DNS query failed with error ErrorRetry”

This is a fairly common error indicating there is an issue contacting the DNS Server or Servers that Exchange is configured to use. ReferenceA ReferenceB

Resolution

However, in this case the issue was not obvious, unless you had already seen this issue before or knew a little bit about the health checks Exchange uses to ensure it’s healthy.

I remembered seeing a similar issue on a Reddit thread awhile back, which caused me to search and find this Microsoft KB article titled “DNS query failed” error when an email message is stuck in the Draft folder in an Exchange Server 2013 environment”.

This was the resolution in my scenario as well. To resolve the issue, I simply had to re-check the “Register this connection’s addresses in DNS” option on the IPv4> Properties>Advanced>DNS tab on the primary NIC used for Active Directory communications. While you can uncheck this box on secondary NICs (such as for iSCSI, Replication, Backup, etc.), it should always remain checked on the MAPI/Primary NIC. I’ve also seen issues where having this unchecked on a 2013/2016 DAG node will result in Managed Availability-triggered database failovers.

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Bad NIC Settings Cause Internal Messages to Queue with 451 4.4.0 DNS query failed (nonexistent domain)


Overview:

I’ve come across this with customers a few times now & it can be a real head scratcher. However, the resolution is actually pretty simple.

 

Scenario:

Customer has multiple Exchange servers in the environment, or has just installed a 2nd Exchange server into the environment. Customer is able to send directly out & receive in from the internet just fine but is unable to send email to/through another internal Exchange server.

This issue may also manifest itself as intermittent delays in sending between internal Exchange servers.

In either scenario, messages will be seen queuing & if you run a “Get-Queue –Identity QueueID | Formal-List” you will see a “LastError” of “451 4.4.0 DNS query failed. The error was: SMTPSEND.DNS.NonExistentDomain; nonexistent domain”.

 

Resolution:

This issue can occur because the Properties of the Exchange Server’s NIC have an external DNS server listed in them. Removing the external DNS server/servers & leaving only internal (Microsoft DNS/Active Directory Domain Controllers in most customer environments) DNS Servers; followed by restarting the Microsoft Exchange Transport Service should resolve the issue.

 

Summary:

The Default Configuration of an Exchange Server is to use the local Network Adapter’s DNS settings for Transport Service lookups.

(FYI: You can alter this in Exchange 07/10 via EMS using the Set-TransportServer command or in EMC>Server Configuration>Hub Transport>Properties of Server. Or in Exchange 2013 via EMS using the Set-TransportService command or via EAC>Servers>Edit Server>DNS Lookups. Using any of these methods, you can have Exchange use a specific DNS Server.)

Because the default behavior is to use the local network adapter’s DNS settings, Exchange was finding itself using external DNS servers for name resolution. Now this seemed to work fine when it had to resolve external domains/recipients but a public DNS server would likely have no idea what your internal Exchange servers (i.e. Ex10.contoso.local) resolve to.The error we see is due to the DNS server responding, but it just not having the A record for the internal host that we require. If the DNS server you had configured didn’t exist or wasn’t reachable you would actually see slightly different behavior (like messages sitting in “Ready” status in their respective queues).

 

An Exchange server, or any Domain-joined server for that matter, should not have its NICs DNS settings set to an external/ISPs DNS server (even as secondary). Instead, they should be set to internal DNS servers which have all the necessary records to discover internal Exchange servers.

 

References

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/825036

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb124896(v=EXCHG.80).aspx

“The DNS server address that is configured on the IP properties should be the DNS server that is used to register Active Directory records.”

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa997166(v=exchg.80).aspx

http://exchangeserverpro.com/exchange-2013-manually-configure-dns-lookups/

http://thoughtsofanidlemind.com/2013/03/25/exchange-2013-dns-stuck-messages/