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Send an Exchange NDR report to a postmaster mailbox

There isn't an option in Exchange to send non-delivery reports to intended recipients, but you can send copies to a postmaster mailbox. Here's how.

Is there any way to set Exchange Server so an email recipient also receives the non-delivery report? I think only

the sender receives the Exchange NDR. We are using Microsoft Exchange Server 2003; can Exchange 2007 and higher do this?

A non-delivery report (NDR) contains information about why the message was rejected in a Delivery Status Notification (DSN) within the body of an Exchange NDR. It's understandable that you would want to let an internal recipient know when a messaging system rejected a "desired" inbound message. In general, Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) messaging systems notify only the sender that his or her message was rejected with a non-delivery report.

There isn't an option in Exchange to send NDRs to the intended recipient to reduce the additional traffic and confusion from allowing the NDRs for rejected "undesirable" inbound messages. However, Exchange Server can send copies of NDRs to a postmaster mailbox so messaging system administrators will know of NDRs. In an indirect way, it's possible to notify the internal recipients via a postmaster.

It's extremely important that postmaster email addresses are created for each SMTP domain you've configured as Authoritative for your organization. The postmaster account sends NDRs from your Exchange organization to recipients outside your organization. Replies from individuals who receive NDRs will, by default, go to your postmaster account. Therefore, monitor the mailbox with the postmaster email address. A common mistake is to make the "Domainname\Administrator" account the postmaster. This administrator account is not an actively used mailbox for most organizations.

It's good practice to specify the DSN numbers you want to send to the postmaster address rather than sending all NDRs. Some NDRs are more critical to keep an eye on than others. For example, you'd want to know when a realtime blackhole list (RBL) is blocking a domain, but not every time a recipient isn't found in the directory. It's also important to understand that internal NDRs are sent using the System Mailbox (found in Exchange 2007 and earlier) and the Exchange Mailbox (found in Exchange 2010 and later). These are special mailbox types; one of their functions is to act as the internal postmaster. Microsoft provides more documentation on this on its TechNet site.

Exchange 2000 and 2003 used the Exchange System Manager (ESM), and the steps for Exchange 2000/2003 can be found here.  But the steps are different when you get to Exchange 2007 and higher.

You can use the Set-TransportConfig with the GenerateCopyOfDsnFor parameter to configure Exchange 2007 and higher. Microsoft provides some helpful documentation about the latest enhancements in Exchange 2013 for managing DSNs and NDRs.

About the author
Richard Luckett is a consultant and instructor specializing in messaging and unified communications. He's been a certified professional with Microsoft since 1996 and has 20 years of experience in the public and private sectors. He's a Microsoft Certified Trainer with more than 15 years of training experience with the Microsoft product line and received the Exchange MVP award in 2006, 2007 and 2008. He's also an expert in deploying and integrating Exchange Server and Lync Server. He leads the Microsoft training and consulting practice at LITSG.

This was first published in June 2014

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