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Forward Email to External Email Address - Exchange 2003

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Sometimes, having the ability for a user to forward their email to another user in the organization, or indeed outside the network, is important. Ignoring the legal issues of having company information immediately forwarded to another user, the procedure is relatively easy and safe to configure, with the only issue an increased chance of a mail loop occurring.

For the purposes of this article, I have initially created two user accounts in my Active Directory structure: Joe Bloggs and Mimosa Smith. Both accounts are standard accounts on a Windows Server 2003 network, with Exchange 2003 mailboxes and external email addresses. User Accounts created in Active Directory

1. Enable Forwarding at a Global level

Firstly, no matter whether you will be forwarding email using an Outlook rule, or using any form of forwarding server-side, the feature must be enabled on the Exchange 2003 Server(s) by the mail administrator. This is performed by opening Exchange System Manager, drilling down to the Global Settings and then Internet Message Formats option. Within the Message Formats container, choose your message format(s) (probably the Default one, unless you have modified this), and view their properties. On the Advanced tab, check the box marked 'Allow automatic forward'.Enable Message Forwarding on a global level

2. Internal Forwarding

Take an example:
Joe Bloggs has left the company, and we need his replacement, Mimosa Smith, to receive all Joe's email for the foreseeable future.
This is a perfectly plausible issue, and while we could use features such as attaching Joe's mailbox as an additional mailbox to Mimosa's account, it does not overcome the possibility of her forgetting to check his account on a routine basis. Thus, we need forwarding:

In order for us to forward all Joe's mail to Mimosa, we need to edit the properties on Joe's account. So, pull down the right-click menu on his user account, and choose Properties. You will now be presented with the standard properties dialog for Joe Bloggs's user account. To configure the forwarding element, we need to switch to the Exchange General tab, and then click the Delivery Options button. The Delivery Options dialog box will open.The Delivery Options dialog box
Under the 'Forwarding address' section, choose the 'Forward to' option, which will enable the Modify button. We can then press 'Modify' and choose Mimosa Smith from Active Directory. The 'Delivery Options' dialog box should now appear as shown below. If it does, the forwarding is setup and configured. Internal forwarding to an internal mailbox (configured) Note: For the purposes of this example, I have opted not to check the checkbox below 'Mimosa Smith'. This feature is only applicable in some cases; in this case, since nobody will be checking Joe Bloggs' mailbox on a regular basis, and it will fill up as a result.

Finally, you should test the configuration from both an internal and external mailbox, to verify it is actually working.

3. Internal to External Forwarding

In some cases, forwarding to an internal mailbox is not the ultimate objective. It is quite common for an IT department to receive requests from users asking if they are able to have all email forwarded to a personal email account, such as a Yahoo! mailbox. While you should do your very best to have the user make use of Outlook Web Access or RPC over HTTPS, the preferred, organized method for remote access to mail, there are some exceptions to this rule.

The first issue you will face is the inability to follow the Internal > Internal forwarding method above. An email address cannot be entered directly into the Delivery Options section. Instead, we need to create a Contact object in Active Directory, and enter the user's External Email Address for forwarding mail to here. For the purposes of this article, we will now be forwarding Mimosa Smith's email to her external Yahoo! email account.

First, you need to create the Contact object. This is very easy to achieve: right-click in Active Directory Users and Computers, choosing the New menu. Select the 'Contact' item from the list. Enter the appropriate information on the first page. I suggest you keep the First Name, Last Name and Display Name the same as the user account is configured. However, the Full Name could cause some issues, since it may automatically be created as 'Mimosa Smith', causing a clash with the existing Mimosa Smith user account in Active Directory. Append something, such as (Personal Email Address) or (Contact) to the Full Name to make it unique. When all looks correct, click Next to move on. If there is an issue (the most likely being a clash in the Full Name field), you will be notified of this before you can proceed.

On the next page of the wizard, you are now prompted to create an Exchange Email Address. Remember that when creating a contact, no mailbox is created, and no login is created for the contact account. It is simply a placeholder which maps an internal Active Directory object to an external email address. Pressing the Modify button on this page enables you to choose the 'SMTP address' option, and enter the user's personal external email account to which the email will be forwarding to. Entering the external SMTP email address into the Contact You can now complete the wizard.

The final stage is now easy: Following the steps for an internal > internal forward (section 1, above), you simply press the 'Modify' button on the main user account's Exchange properties, and specify the Contact object as the location to forward to. Job done.

4. Forwarding to multiple users

Finally, a common question is how to have a generic email address forward mail to multiple users. There are two methods by which this can be achieved. My preferred is to use a distribution group, making the recipients of forwarded mail members of the group and then ensuring the group has the correct email address assigned. However, there are times when the forwarding must be from a user account to multiple users.

In this case, using the information we have learned above. The procedure should be easy. Firstly, create a Security Group in Active Directory (yes, a Security Group), and make the recipients of the forwarded mail members. Mail-enable the group by right-clicking on it and using the options under 'Exchange Tasks'. If you need to forward to external users, create contact objects as shown above, and make them members of the group. Now, it is simply a case of using the 'Delivery Options' dialog, as detailed in Step 1, to configure the user account with a forwarding location of the new Security Group.
As shown, Exchange forwarding is more powerful than is initially thought, and a lot can be achieved with it.

-Matt
24
Comment
Author:tigermatt
23 Comments
LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:Exchange_Geek
Good ONE !!!!
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LVL 2

Expert Comment

by:Atbenning
Nice article, but you have 2 step 3s ;)
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LVL 58

Author Comment

by:tigermatt

Atbenning - that was a good find :-)

The EE system doesn't seem to pick up on having more than one step with the same step number. I've fixed it now.

-Matt
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Expert Comment

by:skipbowt
I've done the above for a user on our domain and now I've deleted the contact and the forwarding rule in the user's exchange properties, however the mail is still being forwareded to the outside POP3 account and is not being delivered to his exchange account on his local desktop.

Any hints
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LVL 58

Author Comment

by:tigermatt
The information is generally cached, so you may need to wait up to 2 hours before the forwarding actually stops. You could also restart the Exchange Services and/or the server itself to expedite a cache update.
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Expert Comment

by:skipbowt
This was done almost 2 weeks ago.  The server has been restarted at least once since then.
I have a post today where on person recommnened going to the users compter and enacting; start/run,
outlook.exe /cleanrules or outlook.exe/ cleanrulesserver.
What do you think?
I tried it once and only got a cannot find outlook.exe/cleanrules....
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LVL 61

Expert Comment

by:Kevin Cross
Nice article, Matt!

Voted yes above.
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LVL 58

Author Comment

by:tigermatt

Hey skipbowt,

The usual causes I can think of would be:

- An Outlook Rule
- Some corrupted info in the directory

You might want to post a question over in the Exchange zone on the site; there are plenty of Experts there who can help you further.

-Matt
0
LVL 58

Author Comment

by:tigermatt
mwvisa1,

Thanks. I appreciate the vote :)
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Expert Comment

by:vizrt
Generally I would check the box "Deliver messages to both forwarding address and mailbox" for backup reasons. Forwarding without this option checked will not give you backup of the mails since they are "removed" from the mailbox when forwarded.

Just a heads up.
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LVL 58

Author Comment

by:tigermatt
vizrt,

That ultimately depends on how the forwarding will be configured. If the original mailbox will never be accessed again, it wouldn't be appropriate to keep a copy of the messages there and in the mailbox they are forwarded to.

Each situation is different, but your feedback is definitely appreciated :)

-Matt
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LVL 20

Expert Comment

by:wolfcamel
why the security group and not a distribution group in the last part?
I have never had a problem with a distribution group.

Also, sometimes when staff leave, we will simply make the old email address an alias for the person taking over their work - then we can archive their old mail and delete the account. Basically it depends a lot on whether the person will be replaced or not - a replaced user we normall just rename the account so the new person can see everything the previous was working on.
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LVL 58

Author Comment

by:tigermatt
It really depends on how the company operates. Some companies would give new replacement users a new mailbox, others would rename the account as you suggested.

Regarding the Security Group in the last part, a Distribution Group should work too. I'm not sure why I mentioned a security group myself. Either will work, though.
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LVL 27

Expert Comment

by:Brian B
I usually do what wolfcamel does. Just move the old user's address to another mailbox. Then we can export the old user's mail to PST and delete from Exchange to free up space on the server and save on the number of mailbox licenses.
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LVL 58

Author Comment

by:tigermatt


>> save on the number of mailbox licenses

I'm by no means a qualified licensing expert, so take what I'm about to say with a pinch of salt. However, it is my understanding that mailboxes themselves are not licensed. The licenses apply to the number of USERS (or, less commonly, devices -- per user licensing is the norm) accessing the server. It doesn't matter if a single user has access to just their own mailbox or 50 mailboxes; they are still one single person, so only require one user license. If a mailbox sits unaccessed by a user, it doesn't consume a license per se.

Check with a qualified Microsoft Licensing Partner first, but you might find you've been spending out for more licenses than you needed to. :)

-Matt
0

Expert Comment

by:probetech
EXCELLENT Tutorial!!!!!  thanks, a bunch.

-Jp
0

Expert Comment

by:cstephen100
Hello Tiger-matt,

Very useful article, however I followed every step here to a T and still I cannot get one of my mailboxes to forward external emails to an external email address. I can only forward internal emails to an external email address. I enabled automatic forward for all domains. Any ideas why this would be the case?

Many thanks
0
LVL 58

Author Comment

by:tigermatt
Hi cstephen100,

It should work. If you created the contact object and set it as the forwarder on the mailbox, there's nothing to say it won't.

Have you checked Message Tracking to determine whether the forward did work, but the message is being blocked somewhere in the process? Depending on the originating domain, there might be issues with SPF, a technology which is being used more and more of late.

-Matt
0

Expert Comment

by:mishrasun
Nice post Tigermatt
0

Expert Comment

by:mishrasun
Nice post tigermatt. In exchange 2003, is it possible to do selective forwarding? As in admins can create contact to forward mails to certain domains however do not let user create thier own auto forward rule?
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LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:Vaseem Mohammed
I will like to know how this forwarding works?
The categorizer will queue one copy to exchange mailbox and other one to external account.
but which account is responsible for sending? its the users account or system account in exchange?
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Expert Comment

by:jbionic2000
I was once able to do this and it worked very well.  Great instructions by the way.  

Now I have added Google Apps into the equation, and I am having issues getting this to work.  I have always setup this process as it shows above.  Now the dynamic is a bit different but same concept.

All incoming mail is directed to Google Apps for Spam filtering and then forwarded on to my exchange and the header is marked as spam or not.  From there I have setup Contact (same as above) and setup forward (same as above).  The email just never shows up in the forwarded email address.  I have tried several different types of internet mail and all have the same result.  The email just never shows up.  No NDR, no error, no nothing.  

Any help would be great.  

I was thinking it could be DNS, but not sure.
0

Expert Comment

by:jbionic2000
Sorry, I forgot some specifics:

Exchange Standard 2003 SP1 hosted on Server 2003 SP2.
Same server is hosting internal DNS with internet forwarders.
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