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E-mail Related Problems? Let the Logging Do the Talking

Technical Blog Post


E-mail Related Problems? Let the Logging Do the Talking


Providing logging up front is MustGather for troubleshooting in general and this entry provides the MustGather for troubleshooting email communications in particular. This includes whether the problem is server communication, outgoing, incoming, formatted, non-formatted, or template related. 

Websphere is assumed otherwise consult your application server's documentation.

1) Be generous with application server log rotation:
In the Websphere administrative console this can be adjusted under Logging and Tracing  >  Server Name > JVM Logs
Setting the SystemOut and SystemErr log size to 15 MB and historical log files to 10 should be enough to trap all Java stack traces, even those written by Leo Tolstoy.  Proust?  Better set to 20 MB / 20 files. 

2) Add and enable JavaMail mail.debug in System Properties:

    mail.debug = true

JavaMail debug has characteristic appearance.  It shows in detail the application server's JavaMail communication sessions with the email server including raw email in transfer.  It includes strings such as DEBUG <protocol? (e.g. DEBUG SMTP). 

This is not an optional step; including this is non-negotiable. This output is not only relevant to email server connectivity problems.
3) Do a clean catch of the logs:

Shutdown your application server and delete or back up the existing system logs. Upon application server restart, a fresh set of logs will be initiated. It's these SystemOut and SystemErr logs that you will be sending to support.

4) Reproduce the problematic scenario:

Perform a test case that causes the problematic behavior to occur.

5)   Check:
Before sending the logs, check them to make sure they contain the information requested.
The logs you will send will include:
  • ALL MXServer activity since the restart in step # 3 as contained in SystemOut and SystemErr.  No screen shots, cut & paste jobs or fragments of log files.   
  • JavaMail debug output (DEBUG SMTP or POP3 or IMAP output, raw incoming/outgoing communications visible, etc.).
  • Error indications from the scenario
When sending this in it would be helpful to include timestamps and a description of the areas of interest in SystemOut. Also include any relevant UI indications or screen shots of data related to the problem.
In conclusion, including all possible information upfront will reduce the number of back and forth "trips" necessary to find the root cause and solution of email problems.


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