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we have an email account for our support department that needs to send back an auto response back when emailed. Basically a quick "thank you for contacting support our business hours are" ect.

Is there a way to do this server side or would we need to be

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3 Answers

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There's nothing built into Exchange that will do this for you. You're going to have to use a third party app. Look into Email2DB. It's pretty common for applications like this.

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The easiest way would be to create the account, then add an auto-reply server-side rule to it through the Outlook Webapp or Exchange Control Panel interface.

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The thing about OOO is it only sends a response once per inbound address from the point in time it is turned on. I'm guessing in this case there should be a response for every message that comes in? –  Jeff Hengesbach Aug 5 '11 at 20:35
    
that is correct. having it send it each time would be ideal. If i login through the OWA shell and set the auto response from there then it should be good? I know i can set it on a clients end (through outlook) but for obvious reasons this will not work. –  Lbaker101 Aug 5 '11 at 20:43
    
A server-side rule should do it, not the Out-of-Office reply –  Hyppy Aug 5 '11 at 21:02
    
Do you guys know what this rule is called? I've gone through each option and havent been able to find it. –  Lbaker101 Aug 5 '11 at 21:18
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+1 for a server-side rule, not OOO. However, as mentioned above, you'll have to be careful about mail loops. This rule will keep replying back to another auto-responder, so you'll want to add a condition where if the response message is found in the e-mail received, you won't auto-reply again. –  Paul Kroon Aug 9 '11 at 23:00
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The exchange auto-responder isn't smart enough on its own to prevent mail-loops so if you set it up without a limit it would respond to an auto-responder that responds back and respond again, etc. You could forge an email from one responder to another and get Exchange servers to DOS themselves.

There is a way to turn off that protection but sooner or later that will buy you only grief. There are plenty of marketing tools that add this functionality and help track it and de-bounce duplicates and so forth. It is worth investing in one.

Here is a FAQ on setting up the AutoResponder: http://www.dharwadkar.com/weblog/msexch_tip02 that you can use in the meantime.

I've noticed that the reply-to list seems to get reset when you turn your message off and back on. I've never tested it deeply but I bet you could run a powershell command like this every night and turn the responder off and back on to get fresh replies once a day.

Set-MailboxAutoReplyConfiguration -Identity YourListOrMailBox -AutoReplyState disabled
sleep 60
Set-MailboxAutoReplyConfiguration -Identity YourListOrMailBox -AutoReplyState enabled

That's untested, mind you. Worth trying if you're hurting the budget and can't buy a responder with features and tracking and such.

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The exchange auto-responder isn't smart enough on its own to prevent mail-loops where you respond to an auto-respond that responds back... etc. - unless I misunderstand what you mean, that's total nonsense. Exchange might auto-respond to an auto-response, but it will only do it once. Nothing technically at fault there, even if it did auto-reply to an auto-reply. –  Ben Pilbrow Aug 5 '11 at 21:44
    
You misunderstood. Mostly because I wrote it poorly. ;-) The Exchange auto-responder is stupid. It just answers once and then refuses to answer again. Smart responders can spot looping behavior and only respond to unique inquiries, even if they come from repeat customers. I expanded my response. thanks Ben. –  Mark Aug 5 '11 at 21:58
    
I guess it's a matter of opinion that it's stupid :-) Personally, I'm glad it only sends one OOF reply - that way when my manager goes on holiday for a week and I CC her on a load of emails, I don't constantly get her OOF message. That's probably why Microsoft did it this way... to reduce the annoyance factor. –  Ben Pilbrow Aug 5 '11 at 22:10
    
It's an Out of Office message, not an auto-responder. They're designed for two different purposes so of course they would work differently. –  Brian Desmond Aug 7 '11 at 16:35
    
Do you guys know if there is a way to set the auto responder without setting the OOF? server side on exchange 2010 that is. I'm looking into Hmail at this time to see if it will do what is needed. –  Lbaker101 Aug 9 '11 at 19:16
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