Got Spam? Exchange SP2 and the IMF

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One potential issue to be aware of with Exchange 2003 SP2 is that you will have to reconfigure your IMF settings if you already have that component installed.  If version 1 of the IMF is installed prior to running SP2 setup, you may receive an error message during the install that tells you that you have to uninstall IMF v1 first before completing the service pack install.  IMF v2 is automatically included as part of the SP install.

Once SP2 is installed, you then have to reenable the IMF in both message delivery (Exchange System Manager -> Domain name (Exchange)-> Global Settings -> Message Delivery -> Right-click, properties -> Intelligent Message Filtering) and on the SMTP virtual Server (Exchange System Manager -> Domain Name (Exchange) -> Servers -> Server Name -> Protocols -> SMTP -> Default SMTP Virtual Server -> right-click, properties) -> General tab -> 'Advanced' button -> Edit -> Apply Intelligent Message Filter).

The SP2 release notes call this out in more detail (although it can be easy to miss all of the details):

Microsoft Exchange Intelligent Message Filter is integrated with the Sender ID feature in the Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 (SP2). Note that, for Exchange Server 2003 SP2, Intelligent Message Filter is built into the product and is considered to be version 2. Version 1 of the Intelligent Message Filter was a stand-alone tool.

Intelligent Message Filter helps companies reduce the amount of unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE), also know as spam, that can be received by users.

Installation Tips

If Intelligent Message Filter version 1 is detected as being on the target server computer when you start the upgrade to SP2, a flag is raised and you must uninstall version 1. After the SP2 upgrade, Intelligent Message Filter version 2 is automatically installed on the server. However, the administrator still must enable version 2 on the Virtual Server Instance (VSI).


Do not install Intelligent Message Filter version 1 after the upgrade to Exchange Server 2003 SP2. Version 2 has been i
nstalled automatically with SP2.

For information about Version 1 of Intelligent Message Filter, see the Microsoft Exchange Intelligent Message Filter Deployment Guide.

During the upgrade to Exchange Server 2003 SP2, the server will not be available. When the server becomes available again, the administrator must enable Intelligent Message Filter immediately. Or, the server must be taken offline and Intelligent Message Filter enabled, if more time is required. Otherwise the server will be subject to spam attacks.


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  • Hmmm. The help file states that you don't need to enable IMF on an SMTP VS where the Exchange server also hosts mailboxes.

    The help file could be wrong, I'll have to experiment.

    Question: does IMF write anything to the email header? (like the SCL?)

    Question 2: Can we expose the SCL in Outlook, the way we could with IMF of Old?

    I haven't used IMF, except for a brief time when it was first released, and have to get back up to speed on it.

  • Here is a walkthrough on this, along with the archive viewer stuff.

  • I uninstalled IMF v1 prior to installing Ex2003SP2 but in the setup log files it still says that it detected a previous version of IMF and therefore it won't install the new version.

    I have been hunting for a way to completely remove IMF (registry settings and all) but to no avail. Can anyone assist?