Cannot send email to previous users, or domains no longer hosted by Exchange
This is my site Written by Grant on November 10, 2011 – 8:54 pm

If you send email to domains that used to be hosted on your Exchange organisation you receive NDR error 5.1.1 – similar to this:

The e-mail account does not exist at the organization this message
     was sent to.  Check the e-mail address, or contact the recipient
     directly to find out the correct address.

You may have believed you have removed the old domain from the usual places:

  • recipient update policies or ‘allowed domains’
  • SMTP connectors
  • users removed from Active Directory, mailboxes purged and deleted

and when you do a trace on an email message thats being NDRed, or you check the SMTP service logs,  you notice it’s not even hitting the SMTP server. You are convinced that it’s being triggered somewhere inside Exchange to deliver locally but are not sure where.

Another place to look is inside the WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\INETSRV\MetaBase.XML

Stop IIS (WWW) and SMTP services and make a backup of this file. Then edit it using  Notepad or some XML editor. Do a search for your problematic domain — if it appears you may have found your culprit.

In my case the Metabase.XML contained numerous references to many old domains that I used to host for family and friends — over time they have migrated to my offsite hosting servers and their accounts removed from my personal Exchange and IIS servers – however simply removing the users and removing their domains using Exchange System Manager does not seem to have cleared them from the IIS/SMTP Metabase.XML file

Remeber to be careful when editing the XML file – make a backup first. And remember to stop all IIS/SMTP services before editing, and start them after saving the fixed XML file.

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