To make best use of the guide to troubleshooting why SharePoint Alert emails stop working its helpful to have an little understanding of what is going on under the covers.
For our purposes Email Alerts can be split into two types
When you first setup an alert a confirmation email is sent to the recipient of the alerts.
This email is sent immediately from the Web Front End (WFE) serving the page at that time and running under the Identity that the IIS worker process (w3wp.exe) is using.
The “Windows SharePoint Services Timer” service (owstimer.exe) is responsible for various jobs including sending out email alerts
By default this runs every 5 minutes – this means that even when you set “Send e-mail immediately” its not really immediately, there could be a short wait for your emails to be sent.
What does mean for Troubleshooting?
These two types of email are being sent at different times from different components of SharePoint and often using different Identities running on different servers.
(Tip – if you are brave you can check the TimerLock table to see on which server your various timer jobs will run)
So just because you get the Confirmation Emails you can’t assume that the Email Alerts will be work (and vice-versa) :-
- There may be a problem stopping the SharePoint timer job running that doesn’t effect the confirmation emails.
- There may be a problem with the configuration of the alerts that only effects the alert emails
- Does your email infrastructure may not allow the emails to be relayed from the server the timer job runs on but does allow the WFE
- Does your anti-virus software stop emails being sent from the server/process (owstimer.exe) or even user identity that the timer service jobs run under but allows the confirmation emails
You get the idea! For troubeshooting purposes you should treat them quite separately.