Knowledge Base

Auto-replies are not working as expected

Problem:

You use CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro to manage auto-replies in your organization. You were informed that If someone sends an email to one of the users in your company, this person gets unusual auto-reply response, for example:

  • receives an auto-reply not only from the user they sent their email to, but also from another user;
  • receives an auto-reply from a user they didn’t send their email to;
  • receives no auto-reply at all, even though it has been properly set in CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro.

You want the sender to receive an auto-reply only from a user indicated by the sender as the recipient.

Solution:

Senders usually expect to receive the auto-reply from the same person (email address) they sent their email to. For example, when sending an email only to Mary.Lincoln@my-company.com, they expect to get the out-of-office message only from Mary.Lincoln@my-company.com and not from Eve.Omeda@my-company.com or even from both Mary and Eve.

If you have a situation where senders receive double auto-replies, receive an auto-reply from someone else, or receive no auto-reply at all:

  • Make sure that you properly set up the Autoresponder rule in CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro. Learn more
  • See if message splitting is enabled in CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro. Learn more
  • Check the forwarding settings on your Exchange Server. Learn more

The solution to this issue depends on the cause. If the problem results from the forwarding settings on the Exchange server, our recommended solution is to turn off forwarding in Exchange and configure it in CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro instead. Learn more

Autoresponder rule settings

Detailed instructions on how to configure a rule and the Auto respond action are available in the user’s manual:

Additional points to consider:

  • If multiple autoresponder rules are in use in your organization, check if all of them need to be enabled. Make sure that there are no conflicts between the rules.
  • See who is indicated as the Sender in the Auto respond action. For auto-replies to be sent from the email address that received the original message, the {Original recipient} placeholder must be chosen. Learn more
  • When specifying the Recipient on the Conditions tab of your Autoresponder rule, be sure to use the is AD user operator instead of matches email address.   

Message splitting settings in CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro

Message splitting, also called bifurcation, allows CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro to split a message into several copies depending on the rules that the program needs to apply to that message. These copies are then processed separately by the program. Learn more

We recommend having message splitting always enabled. When message splitting is disabled, only rules that apply to the first recipient on the To list are executed. Mind that if forwarding is enabled on the Exchange server, the actual recipients' list may include the email address of the user to whom emails are forwarded, even if that user was not listed in the To field.

Forwarding settings on the Exchange Server

To check if forwarding has been set up for your user (let’s say it's Mary Lincoln), you need to:

  1. Log in to Exchange admin center (see instructions: Exchange Server 2019Exchange Server 2016 / Exchange Server 2013).  
  2. From the mailbox list, double-click Mary’s mailbox. This will open the User Mailbox window. Choose mailbox features from the side panel and scroll down to Mail Flow (Fig. 1.).

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Fig. 1. The location of the Mail Flow section.

  1. Click View details, and in the window that opens, see if the Enable forwarding option is selected (Fig. 2.).

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Fig. 2. Checking the forwarding settings for the user.

  1. If forwarding is enabled, pay special attention to the Deliver message to both forwarding address and mailbox checkbox:

    • If this option is selected, emails sent to Mary will be delivered to Mary herself and Eve. To achieve this result, the Exchange Server will split the incoming message into two copies, one for Mary and one for Eve.

      Consequently, if both Mary and Eve have auto-replies set up, the person sending an email to Mary will receive two auto-replies: one from Mary and one from Eve, even though only Mary was on the recipients' list. This is because the message copy sent to Eve will trigger an auto-reply from her mailbox.

      Also, if only Eve has an auto-reply set up, and a user sends an email only to Mary, Eve’s copy will still trigger an auto-reply from her.

    • If this option is not selected, emails sent to Mary will be delivered only to Eve. Exchange Server will not create any copies of the message and Mary will not receive any emails. As a result, the user will never get an auto-reply from Mary, even if it was properly set up in CodeTwo Exchange Rules. 

      If the auto-reply is set for both Mary and Eve or just for Eve, the user’s message to Mary will be forwarded to Eve and will trigger an auto-reply from Eve.

      This setting might be useful if Mary no longer works in your organization.

Recommended solution: Setting forwarding in CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro

The quickest way to ensure that people who send emails to a user in your organization (e.g. Mary) receive only this user’s auto-reply is to:

  • switch off forwarding for Mary on the Exchange Server: clear the Enable forwarding checkbox in the Delivery options (Fig. 2. above), and set it up in CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro instead. 
  • block Mary’s address from receiving emails if you do not want her to receive any emails. 

Important

Before you apply this solution, make sure the Autoresponder rules are correctly configured and that message splitting is enabled in CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro, as described earlier in this article.

To achieve this result, you will need to configure three rules in the program:

  1. A properly configured autoresponder rule for the user (e.g. Mary). 

    If you need the same auto-reply also for another user (e.g. Eve), you can add Eve as another recipient on the Conditions tab of the same rule. Remember to choose OR instead of AND as the operator joining the conditions.

    You can also configure a separate Autoresponder rule for Eve.
  2.  A rule forwarding emails from Mary to Eve. Learn how to configure the Forward message action
  3. (optional) A rule blocking Mary from receiving any emails. Learn how to configure the Block message action

    (This setting might be useful, for example, if Mary no longer works in your organization.)

Note that the order of rules is irrelevant.