How to Troubleshoot a 'DDE Server Error'

By Dan Stone

Dynamic Data Exchange server errors imply something is preventing two programs or services from communicating. The DDE server error troubleshooting process involves identifying where the inter-program communication is breaking down and removing said communication barrier. Unless your computer is the server you're trying to communicate with, the "sever error" part indicates a communication failure between two different computers.

About DDE Services

DDE is a service that allows more than one program to access the same data at the same time. It establishes a set of guidelines for sharing computer memory between programs. If you've ever received an error message that says "file is in use by another program," you've encountered a situation where DDE or a similar protocol is not supported. For example, DDE would let you attach an image file you're working on in Photoshop to an email you're sending in Outlook without having to close the file in Photoshop.

Reboot and Reinstall the Problematic Program

While not specific to DDE server errors, rebooting your computer and reinstalling the program that's experiencing the errors may clear up the issue. Rebooting the computer helps clear up program glitches by returning programs to initial launch states. Additionally, uninstalling and reinstalling the problematic program may resolve the problem. DDE services use "dynamic-link library" files, known as DLL files, to handle inter-program communication. The DLL files may stop working correctly after alteration; reinstalling the program can restore the DLL files.

Restart Simple Network Management Protocol

Some programs periodically check in with a network server during operation. Simple Network Management Protocol is a commonly used service to handle information sharing between networked devices. Many SNMP issues can be resolved by restarting the service. To restart SNMP, press "Windows Key+R," type "cmd" and click "OK" to launch the command prompt. Type "net stop snmp," press "Enter," type "net start snmp" and press "Enter" in the command prompt window to stop and start SNMP. The command prompt will say the command is not valid if you don't have SNMP installed.

Open the Firewall Ports

A bad firewall setting can produce DDE server errors. For example, blocking UDP port 137 and TCP port 135 stops the NetDDE protocol variation. If disabling the firewall stops the error, the firewall is blocking the DDE. Windows Firewall users may disable the service by opening the Charms bar, searching for "firewall," clicking "Windows Firewall" and clicking "Off." Open the relevant UDP and TCP ports to resolve firewall-caused DDE server errors.

Check the Event Viewer

The program creators may be the only ones capable of addressing complex DDE problems. You can provide more information on the nature of the errors by using the "Event Viewer" program. Launch the program by pressing "Windows Key+R," typing "eventvwr.msc" and pressing "OK." Event viewer lists error events under the "Windows Logs/Application" section. You can find your program's specific error by matching the "Source" to the program name.