#FAQFriday – Using The Remote Connectivity Analyzer for Message Tracking

Are your users’ messages taking forever to be sent or received? Are they getting lost in transit? Are you wondering:

“Where did that missing message go?”
“What went wrong?”
 “And how can it be fixed?”

These are questions our customers ask us all the time. While playing the role of an email forensic may seem like a potentially lengthy task, there’s a quick way to track external messages, and the routes they take. One of our favorite tools to track the paths of external messages is the Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer - Message Analyzer.

Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer? What is that and where do I get it?!

The Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer is a collection of web-based Microsoft tools that allow you to run a whole host of tests to troubleshoot message paths / routing, Outlook connectivity, Autodiscover, Skype connectivity, free-busy, SMTP, and other features.

Most importantly, though, for message tracking, the Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer breaks down dense message headers, making it straight-forward to figure out the exact path that a message takes from a sender to a recipient, with hops across dozens of servers on different mail platforms. This is incredibly helpful when it comes to diagnosing routing issues like, “Where did the message get stuck?” or “Why do messages take so long to get from A to B?” or “Why do messages loop when routing from A to B?”. (Remember the old days of exporting message headers to notepad, and then reading and dissecting them upside down? Thankfully, there are now better tools available.)

How to use the Remote Connectivity Analyzer to track a message path.

First, you’ll have to grab your message header. This can be done in a few steps.

1. Find the message that you’d like to track the routing for.

2. Select “View message details.”

 Note: Depending on the platform you are working in, the message header may be in a different place. In Exchange Online or Exchange 2016 OWA, the message header info can be displayed by selecting the drop down arrow next to "reply all" and selecting "view message details". In Outlook 2013 and 2016, the message header info can be accessed by opening the message, selecting file, then properties, and copy and pasting the message header as displayed in the "internet headers" field. In Gmail, the message header can be displayed by selecting the downward arrow next to the reply button, and selecting "Show original". This will display your message header. 
3. Your message header will appear in the pop-up window. It looks like a bunch of code with dates, times, and server names in it, like the sample shown below. Copy all of it.

4. Go to the Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer (https://testconnectivity.microsoft.com). Select “Message Analyzer”.
5. Paste your message heading data into the field. Select “Analyze headers”.
6. View your results.
Under the summary section, you’ll notice that the Remote Connectivity Analyzer will tell you how long it took to deliver the message under the “creation time” section (shown towards the top). Additionally, the Message Analyzer will display every single hop that the message took to reach the destination recipient's mailbox. This is helpful in identifying any potential routing problems that could be causing delays. Generally, a good rule of thumb is that messages should only be at each hop in the routing path for less than a few minutes for on-prem mail servers, and many cloud-based mail servers will process each message within seconds before the messages reach the next hop or their final hop / destination.

Details to notice when analyzing message paths: the start time, the subject of the message, the sender, the server starting place, the server hops, the IP addresses, the times that the message spends at each hop, the final destination of the message.

If you’re noticing any major delays, looping, or unnecessary hops in the message routing, you can contact us for CloudAdv Office 365/Exchange/Email engineering assistance.

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