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Notes on debugging Database Mail problems

I’ve had to debug database mail problems several times over the last year or so. Below is a collection of the stored procedures and queries that I’ve ended up using. I’ve added notes to most of them to help explain and work with them.

USE msdb

-- Check that the service broker is enabled on MSDB. 
-- Is_broker_enabled must be 1 to use database mail.
SELECT is_broker_enabled FROM sys.databases WHERE name = 'msdb';
-- Check that Database mail is turned on. 
-- Run_value must be 1 to use database mail.
-- If you need to change it this option does not require
-- a server restart to take effect.
EXEC sp_configure 'show advanced options', 1;
EXEC sp_configure 'Database Mail XPs';

-- Check the Mail queues
-- This system stored procedure lists the two Database Mail queues.  
-- The optional @queue_type parameter tells it to only list that queue.
-- The list contains the length of the queue (number of emails waiting),
-- the state of the queue (INACTIVE, NOTIFIED, RECEIVES_OCCURRING, the 
-- last time the queue was empty and the last time the queue was active.
EXEC msdb.dbo.sysmail_help_queue_sp -- @queue_type = 'Mail' ;

-- Check the status (STARTED or STOPPED) of the sysmail database queues
-- EXEC msdb.dbo.sysmail_start_sp -- Start the queue
-- EXEC msdb.dbo.sysmail_stop_sp -- Stop the queue
EXEC msdb.dbo.sysmail_help_status_sp;

-- Check the different database mail settings.  
-- These are system stored procedures that list the general 
-- settings, accounts, profiles, links between the accounts
-- and profiles and the link between database principles and 
-- database mail profiles.
-- These are generally controlled by the database mail wizard.

EXEC msdb.dbo.sysmail_help_configure_sp;
EXEC msdb.dbo.sysmail_help_account_sp;
-- 	Check that your server name and server type are correct in the
--		account you are using.
--	Check that your email_address is correct in the account you are
--		using.
EXEC msdb.dbo.sysmail_help_profile_sp;
--	Check that you are using a valid profile in your dbmail command.
EXEC msdb.dbo.sysmail_help_profileaccount_sp;
--	Check that your account and profile are joined together
--		correctly in sysmail_help_profileaccount_sp.
EXEC msdb.dbo.sysmail_help_principalprofile_sp;

-- I’m doing a TOP 100 on these next several queries as they tend
-- to contain a great deal of data.  Obviously if you need to get
-- more than 100 rows this can be changed.
-- Check the database mail event log.
-- Particularly for the event_type of "error".  These are where you
-- will find the actual sending error.
FROM msdb.dbo.sysmail_event_log 
ORDER BY last_mod_date DESC;

-- Check the actual emails queued
-- Look at sent_status to see 'failed' or 'unsent' emails.
FROM msdb.dbo.sysmail_allitems 
ORDER BY last_mod_date DESC;

-- Check the emails that actually got sent. 
-- This is a view on sysmail_allitems WHERE sent_status = 'sent'
FROM msdb.dbo.sysmail_sentitems 
ORDER BY last_mod_date DESC;

-- Check the emails that failed to be sent.
-- This is a view on sysmail_allitems WHERE sent_status = 'failed'
FROM msdb.dbo.sysmail_faileditems 
ORDER BY last_mod_date DESC

-- Clean out unsent emails
-- Usually I do this before releasing the queue again after fixing the problem.
-- Assuming of course that I don't want to send out potentially thousands of 
-- emails that are who knows how old.
-- Obviously can be used to clean out emails of any status.
EXEC msdb.dbo.sysmail_delete_mailitems_sp  
	@sent_before =  '2009-11-10',
	@sent_status = 'unsent';

Filed under: Database Mail, Microsoft SQL Server, Problem Resolution, SQLServerPedia Syndication, System Functions and Stored Procedures Tagged: Database mail, microsoft sql server, problem resolution, sql statements, system functions


My name is Kenneth Fisher and I am Senior DBA for a large (multi-national) insurance company. I have been working with databases for over 20 years starting with Clarion and Foxpro. I’ve been working with SQL Server for 12 years but have only really started “studying” the subject for the last 3. I don’t have any real "specialities" but I enjoy trouble shooting and teaching. Thus far I’ve earned by MCITP Database Administrator 2008, MCTS Database Administrator 2005, and MCTS Database Developer 2008. I’m currently studying for my MCITP Database Developer 2008 and should start in on the 2012 exams next year. My blog is at www.sqlstudies.com.


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