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Forward unknown recipient email to a specified user

Learn how to forward unknown recipient email to a specified user.

How do I configure an Exchange 2003 server to forward unknown recipient email to a specified user?

Let's assume an employee no longer works for the company and his email account was deleted -- but he still receives email from various people who don't know that he's no longer working at the company. The administrator gets the information from Exchange that an email was received, but the recipient no longer exists or is unknown. He doesn't get the actual email, though, only the error message (NDR). How can I get Exchange Server to forward such unknown recipient email to a specified user?

VIEW MEMBER FEEDBACK TO THIS ASK THE EXPERT Q&A.

I would recommend that you add a step to your mailbox de-provisioning process (i.e., the process that your company goes through when an employee leaves your company and their mailbox is no longer required). On the day of employee termination:

  1. Disable the account of the user in question.
  2. Delete the SMTP address(es) on the mailbox itself.
  3. Recreate them on either the administrator mailbox or another mailbox created specifically for that purpose.

I have seen companies add the SMTP address of the former employee to the mailbox of the manager responsible for that person's former position, but managing this in a large dynamic environment can become unwieldy.

Setting up one mailbox dedicated to capturing this kind of email is simplest from a procedural perspective. If privacy concerns are an issue, you may want to look at using a distribution list with no members as a 'black hole' address; it accepts inbound messages but then just deletes them (you'd have to test this in a lab first to see if it meets your requirements).

MEMBER FEEDBACK TO THIS ASK THE EXPERT Q&A:

In Exchange 2003, you can no longer just delete the SMTP address for a user if you want to keep the mailbox intact. Forwarding to an empty distribution list has worked well for us. It keeps junk mail from piling up in a mailbox that's no longer in use but needs to stay online.
—Stephen G.

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This was last published in April 2005

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