On our Exchange 2003 server there is an account that is used as the sender address for thousands of automated emails. We can call it mail@company.com. Occasionally it sends an email to an invalid recipient. In some of the cases, the mail server on the recipient side will send a normal email back to mail@company.com saying that the address was invalid and that it was not delivered. We forward these mails to a third account, let's call that undelivered@company.com, from which we gather data.

Now, in some cases, the mails sent to mail@company.com are Undeliverable Reports sent from postmaster. I presume this is when the server on the recipient side simply tells our exchange server that the mail was undeliverable, but didn't generate an email to send back to mail@company.com. When I open these undeliverable reports in Outlook, they don't seem to act as normal mails.

Here's the question:

We would like to autoforward these undeliverable reports to undelivered@company.com. Setting up an autoforward rule does not seem to work. Is it possible to set up autoforwarding of undeliverable reports from mail@company.com to undelivered@company.com?


In Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server and Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, you can send a copy of all non-delivery reports (NDRs) to a specific mailbox or [SMTP] e-mail address.

-- XADM: How to Send a Copy of an NDR to a Specific E-mail Address

  • -1 - This feature doesn't do what the poster is asking for. This feature forwards NDRs generated by the SMTP virtual server as a result of incoming email with bad addresses. The poster is interested in dealing with NDRs coming in from external email servers. The feature you mention doesn't do anything with NDRs coming back from other mail servers as a result of delivery attempts. – Evan Anderson Jun 15 '09 at 15:22

The best way to do this is with an Outlook Server-Side rule. You need to ensure that when you create the rule in Outlook, that you do not use any client only rules, you want the rule to run on the server, rather than when you open Outlook. Client only rules will have "client-only" at the end of them.

This article shows the difference between Server Side and client rules.

  • The poster indicated in his response to my comment that only a subset of the emails received by this recipient need to be forwarded. I'm not certain that the server-side rules engine is going to be flexible enough to do what he needs. – Evan Anderson Jun 10 '09 at 15:23

Why not have ALL mail forwarded to undelivered@company.com, since there arent really that many. Then use Rules to weed out or categorize the undesirables. This is more of a workaround, but may be useful.

  • This is how I would first approach it. See how much you need to weed out. – Hondalex Jun 18 '09 at 18:47

Why assign a mailbox to the "mail@company.com" address at all? It sounds like you don't need it. You can assign that email address to a group (granting "Send As" permission on that group to the appropriate parties who should be sending email if need be) and put the "undelivered@company.com" recipient into the "mail@compamy.com" group. Then, emails delivered to "mail@company.com" will end up going to the "undelivered@company.com" recipient.

Since that isn't workable, you're stuck attempting to use some kind of automated system to weed out what you're looking for. One poster has mentioned Exchange server-side rules, but the functionality there is limited because you don't have a lot of logic features.

You're going to need some kind of automated agent with a bit of "intelligence" because there's no "standard" form these undeliverable reports can take. Different remote mail servers may NDR the message during the SMTP envelope (causing your local server to generate the NDR), while others (like older versions of Exchange) may accept the message then generate a new message with an NDR in a mail server-specific format.

You'll have a lot better time of this if you can send "From:" and address that should be receiving no other emails besides NDRs. That's your real answer, because then you need no 'intelligent' agent to sort and review the incoming messages. The only thing that would be coming in, then, would be NDRs (and spam).

  • Thanks for the reply, Evan. mail@company.com acts as a recipient for loads of different types of emails - so it's not only being used as a recipient for undelivered emails. – deadtime Jun 10 '09 at 12:20

Why not have the mail go from campaigns@ which is an alias for undelivered@ with a reply-to mail@.

I believe that undeliverable messages go to the original sender, not the reply-to. (Though they might go to both, actually. Hmm.)

  • Just did some quick testing. It looks like the undeliverable message goes to both, at least from an Exchange server. This may be a workable solution for you, assuming it doesn't matter if mail@ also receives the undeliverable. – Yannone Jun 18 '09 at 19:15

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