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Top 5 reasons for ‘exim has failed’ error in cPanel servers and how to fix them

Top 5 reasons for ‘exim has failed’ error in cPanel servers and how to fix them

cPanel/WHM is the most commonly used control panel in hosting industry. In our role as outsourced hosting support specialists for web hosting companies, we resolve many errors related to the control panels.

Using the WHM, it is easy manage various services in the server, but there are many situations where these features fail or give errors, and expert intervention is required.

For instance, when trying to restart exim mail server from “WHM >> Main >> Restart Services >> Mail Server (Exim)”, sometimes you may end up seeing this error message :

Waiting for exim to restart….finished.

exim has failed, please contact the sysadmin.

Click here for seamless mail services

Today we’ll see what causes this ‘exim has failed’ errors and how we fix them.

What causes ‘exim has failed’ error in cPanel servers?

Exim failure messages do not usually reveal much about the reason for the failure. So its important to examine the logs carefully and identify what went wrong.

In our experience handling various exim related errors, we’ve noticed the following reasons for exim failures.

  1. Corrupted exim binary – Exim binary or RPM can get corrupt due to any updates or over time, which can cause exim to fail.
  2. Configuration errors in exim – Exim has a configuration file ‘/etc/exim.conf’, which contains the various custom settings. Exim also has other configuration setting files such as ‘localdomains’, for its functioning. Customization, if not done by experts, can mess up with the config file and prevent exim from starting.
  3. A bug in the cPanel version – cPanel keeps releasing new versions and updates every now and then, and at times there may be some bugs which affect services such as Exim. These bugs can tamper with the functioning of mail server.
  4. Permission issues – If the ownership and permissions of the exim binary, exim config file, log files, etc., are not set right or get accidentally changed, these can lead to failures in the mail service.
  5. DNS or port binding issues – Unable to resolve websites due to DNS failures, another process binding to exim port, other malicious attacks, all these could also be the reasons why exim fails to start.

[ Use your time to build your business. We’ll take care of your servers. Hire Our Hosting Support Specialists and boost your server performance. ]

How to fix ‘exim has failed’ error in cPanel servers

When exim fails, the mail delivery would be affected and soon you would be bombarded by client complaints. As a result, it is vital to have cPanel experts examine the service and get it fixed, without wasting time.

  1. Examine the log files – The first step we do while debugging any service failure is to examine the associated log files. Exim has 2 major log files – /var/log/exim_mainlog and /var/log/exim_paniclog – which we examine to figure out the issues and fix them.
  2. Fix the configuration errors – Exim.conf file, if corrupt, is recreated with a properly working config file and custom settings, if any, are updated. This helps us resolve all failures due to errors in the config file.
  3. Verify the permissions – We also verify and update the permissions and ownership of the exim binary, config and log files, if there are issues in that.
  4. Check for spamming or malicious processes – Another important aspect we check is for any malicious script that may be messing up with exim port or spamming the server, causing mail server to crash.
  5. Update cPanel – Some server owners are seen to set cPanel to auto-update to latest releases. This is not a recommended practice, as new buggy releases can mess up with normal server functioning. We examine the cPanel version and update it to the latest stable bug-free version, after proper checks.
  6. Rebuild Exim binary – If nothing else works, then the issue can be narrowed down to exim binary corruption. In such cases, we rebuild the Exim binary in the server and get the service back and running.

You don’t have to lose your sleep to keep your customers happy. Our friendly Hosting Support Specialists are online 24/7/365 to help your customers. ]

At Bobcares, our 24/7 server specialists constantly monitor all the services in the server and proactively audit the server for any errors or corruption in them.

This enables us to prevent a service downtime for our customers who are web hosts. By following a systematic debugging approach for service failures, we have been able to minimize the downtime involved.

If you would like to know how to avoid downtime for your customers due to service failures, we would be happy to talk to you.



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Bobcares is a server management company that helps businesses deliver uninterrupted and secure online services. Our engineers manage close to 51,500 servers that include virtualized servers, cloud infrastructure, physical server clusters, and more.

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