Exchange 2013 Email Stuck in Draft

Recently I was troubleshooting an interesting mail flow issue where the users were not able to send or receive email. Apparently everything was working fine on Exchange server but users were not able to send or receive any email internally and externally. Customer did everything to troubleshoot the issue and even thought to setup a new exchange 2013 server and move services over to new server. You can imagine mail flow was broken for some reason. When i was being asked to troubleshoot the issue. I had a technical session with the customer to understand the problem in detail and i got a typical response.

Riaz whenever we had this issue, we restart exchange server 2 or 3 times and everything start working again.

Well, being a Consultant i was expecting such response. Anyhow, i asked the customer when they noticed this issue and they told me whenever we try to upgrade our Exchange server to latest CU, setup failed and we started to face this issue. I have discussed the issue of Exchange 2013 CU upgrade here.

When i started to troubleshoot the issue, i noticed that everything on Exchange server was working fine like services, ECP, EMS, OWA, Autodiscover, Outlookanywhere etc. I logged in to OWA as a normal user account and sent an email to internal and external recipient and email straight away went to Draft folder. This makes me think of why this email didn’t hit Exchange server. As you know in Exchange 2013 Mailbox Transport service and the Transport service work together to process messages sent by end users. Below diagram shows the process of mail flow in Exchange 2013.

Exchange 2013 Email Stuck in Draft

In Exchange, OWA automatically store a copy of message in Draft Folder when you compose an email. When you submit an email using OWA it’s being sent to Mailbox submit agent that process outbound message by giving it to Transport services running on mailbox server via SMTP connection. OWA keeps your message in Draft folder until it’s being successfully delivered.

Why Exchange 2013 email stuck in Draft? Well, there are few reasons that can cause this particular behavior with your exchange server. Few of those reasons are as below.

  • Transport or Mailbox transport service isn’t running on mailbox server hosting user mailbox
  • Problem with transport pipeline that prevents outbound message
  • Issue with DNS
  • Transport Service is in maintenance mode

When i started the troubleshooting of this issue, I did the basic Transport troubleshooting steps to verify transport services are running on exchange server and we don’t have any space issue or back pressure on transport queue that can cause this issue. Next step was to verify name resolution is working fine. To do so, we need to make sure that you have appropriate internal and external DNS binding is configured for your Exchange server. To verify your DNS binding, login to Exchange Admin Center and navigate to EAC>Servers>Select Server and click on Edit and go to DNS.

Exchange 2013 Email Stuck in Draft

You can also check your internal and external DNS server by running the EMS cmdlet. If you notice that external DNS is setup then make sure you can resolve names using external DNS. In my case, DNS was working fine.

Get-TransportServer | fl InternalDNSServers, ExternalDNSServers, Identity


Once you’ve verified that your DNS is setup properly. Next step is to verify that your Exchange transport services is working fine. Apparently if you look at your transport services in services.msc console you will see the services are running. To verify it’s not in maintenance mode, run the cmdlet Get-ServerComponentState and verify that all components are in “Active” state. If your components are “Inactive” then run the following cmdlet to bring them in active state. In my case, servercomponentstate was InActive.


Set-ServerComponentState -Identity “ServerName” -Component ServerWideOffline -State Active -Requester Maintenance


Rerun the cmdlet Get-ServerComponentState -Identity “ServerName” to verify all components are in Active State.


In my case, removing the transport service from Maintenance mode fixed the issue and all emails in Draft folder were being sent successfully. The reason why transport services were in maintenance mode because customer did an attempt to perform Exchange 2013 CU12 upgrade and whenever you perform your Exchange upgrade, it set the services in maintenance mode to avoid any interruption.