'Messages awaiting directory lookup' Queue is in Retry

[This topic is intended to address a specific issue called out by the Exchange Server Analyzer Tool. You should apply it only to systems that have had the Exchange Server Analyzer Tool run against them and are experiencing that specific issue. The Exchange Server Analyzer Tool, available as a free download, remotely collects configuration data from each server in the topology and automatically analyzes the data. The resulting report details important configuration issues, potential problems, and nondefault product settings. By following these recommendations, you can achieve better performance, scalability, reliability, and uptime. For more information about the tool or to download the latest versions, see "Microsoft Exchange Analyzers" at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=34707.]  

Topic Last Modified: 2006-05-17

The Microsoft® Exchange Server Analyzer Tool queries the ExchangeLink Windows® Management Instrumentation (WMI) class to determine the value of the StateRetry key for the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) Messages awaiting directory lookup queue.

If the Exchange Server Analyzer finds that the value of the StateRetry key for the Messages awaiting directory lookup queue on an Exchange server is set to True, the Exchange Server Analyzer displays an error.

If a queue is in retry status, this status indicates that at least one error occurred in the previous attempts to process the messages in the queue. You can change queues in the Retry or Scheduled state to Active with the Force Connection command. This causes the queue to function as if the retry interval had passed or the scheduled time was reached. However, this method may not always work.


The properties of a queue can indicate a specific reason for a queue to be in Retry.

The Messages awaiting directory lookup queue contains messages to recipients that have not yet been resolved against the Active Directory® directory service. Messages are also held in the queue while distribution lists are expanded.

Generally, messages accumulate in this queue because the advanced queuing engine is unable to categorize the message. The advanced queuing engine may not be able to access the global catalog servers and access recipient information, or the global catalog servers are unreachable or performing slowly. In addition, messages can accumulate for the following reasons:

  • Active Directory is unavailable.


    The categorizer uses Active Directory to categorize messages.

  • Active Directory may be too heavily loaded if many messages are queuing in the pre-categorization queue.

  • There is a failure in conversion. The categorizer also handles content conversion.

  • The message categorizer cannot find the mailbox stores.

  • If SMTP was reinstalled or removed, this may invalidate the following IIS metabase keys: /smtpsvc/DsUseCat and /smtpsvc/vsi#/DsUseCat.


    Determine whether SMTP was reinstalled or removed.

To resolve this error, examine the properties of the queue to determine why the queue is in retry status. For example, if the queue properties display a message that resembles "An SMTP error has occurred," you should review your server's event logs to locate any SMTP errors. If there are no events in the log, you should increase the SMTP Protocol logging level.

For more information about how to troubleshoot SMTP queues, see the following Exchange resources: