Preserving Auto-Forwarded Messages in Exchange

Over the last few versions of Exchange, the Information Protection team has done an amazing job in improving Exchange’s compliance capabilities. One of these features, called In-Place Hold, does a great job in preserving mailbox items. However, it did not capture emails automatically forwarded by users. This can be important as sometimes emails are forwarded without a copy of the email being stored in the user’s mailbox:

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If the email does not get delivered to the mailbox at all, it cannot be placed on hold and, as such, will not be available for eDiscovery. For organizations wanting to stay in compliance, the recommendation has been to either disable automatic forwarding completely or to use Journaling.

Well, not anymore! Microsoft has rectified this and now Exchange is able to capture auto-forwarded messages. Transport detects if the user that has AutoForwarding configured is on hold and, if yes, automatically preserves a copy of the email in the Recoverable Items folder, making it available to eDiscovery.

At the time of writing this tip, this feature does not yet seem to be available in Exchange 2016 RTM, but it is already available in Exchange Online. In the following screenshot, we can an eDiscovery search that contains an item that was sent from Nuno to Mota when Mota had auto forwarding configure to an external recipient without a copy being saved in Mota‘s mailbox. As we can see, the email was still placed on hold:

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