I'm setting up a new dedicated server using Windows Server 2019. It's replacing an old one based on Windows Server 2008 R2. I have had the built-in SMTP server running on the old server with no issues. I have set up the new server to act as an SMTP server as well, using my own notes from setting up the old one, as well as double checking intructions online. Basically according to the instructions here:
The problem I'm having is that e-mail will not leave C:\inetpub\mailroot\Queue and will never reach the recipients. The Windows event log contains the following warning(s):
Event 4006, smtpsvc
"Message delivery to the host '188.8.131.52' failed while delivering to the remote domain 'hotmail.com' for the following reason: The remote server did not respond to a connection attempt."
The above is just an example using a Hotmail destination address. The same kind of message is received when trying to send to addresses on other domains.
What I've tried:
- I have sent e-mail manually by using Telnet. The e-mail is created and received by the local SMTP server without issues, but doesn't leave the queue folder.
- I have run SmtpDiag against both a Hotmail and a Gmail address. No issues. The MX records are listed as expected.
- I have used Nslookup and confirmed that the MX records are resolved.
- I have successfully connected to the Hotmail and Gmail SMTP servers using Telnet.
- I have used Wireshark and been able to see that my server only tries to access the IP address of the destination e-mail address domain, at port 25. So, for Hotmail, it simply resolves the IP address of hotmail.com (which is 184.108.40.206) and tries to open a connection to this address at port 25. This obviously fails, as there's no SMTP server there. My server never even attempts to access the SMTP server at the address specified in the MX record.
That last item above also ties into an interesting thing that I noticed, which is that the IP address listed in the event 4006 message is not one of the IP addresses listed in the MX records. It is the IP address of the actual hotmail.com domain. So, why is it attempting to contact hotmail.com and not one of the addresses listed in the MX records?
To futher investigate, I used Telnet to send to an e-mail in one of my own domains. Sure enough, I find a 4006 event in the log saying:
"Message delivery to the host '[my domain's IP]' failed while delivering to the remote domain '[my domain]' for the following reason: The connection was dropped by the remote host."
It again appears that the SMTP server is trying to connect to my domain's IP and port 25 and not to the address specified in the MX record.
This is as far as I've come. Maybe I'm misinterpreting something here, but it certainly looks like Windows' SMTP server is trying to connect to the e-mail address' domain directly at port 25 (ignoring MX records)... Any ideas on what I might be doing wrong or perhaps how I should proceed in troubleshooting this?
EDIT: Found a work-around as well as what triggers the issue. See my answer below.