How can I install Intelligent Message Filter on Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2?

Microsoft Exchange Intelligent Message Filter is a product developed by Microsoft to help companies reduce the amount of unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE), or spam, received by users. IMF used to be a stand-alone tool downloadable from Microsoft, however now IMF is an integral part of Exchange Service Pack 2 (SP2).

As usual, one should read the Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 Release Notes before installing SP2. This is more important in regards to the installation and configuration of the Intelligent Message Filter in SP2.
Download Exchange 2003 SP2 (109mb)
After downloading Exchange Server 2003 SP2 you can now install it on your machine. However, make sure you read the following information before doing so:
Uninstall IMF v1 first!
Exchange 2003 SP2 setup program will check for the presence of IMF v1 on the server, and if found it will display an error that the older IMF v1 needs to be uninstalled first before SP2 (with IMF v2 bundled in) can be installed.
Important note: There seems to be a bug in the SP2 setup program that will sometimes, under specific circumstances, to ignore the fact that IMF v1 is in fact installed on the machine, and will proceed without warning. In this case, IMF v2 will not work. Make sure you remove IMF v1 prior to installing SP2.
If there was no IMF v1 prior to installing SP2
The Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 Release Notes has a note about the need to manually create a container in the Active Directory prior to installing SP2 (if there was no IMF v1 installed on the system prior to installing SP2).
In order for Intelligent Message Filter to function a container must be created within Active Directory directory service. This container will NOT be present unless you used to run the IMF v1 add-on tool. If not present, you must create it manually.

​Cn=UCE Content Filter,cn=Message Delivery,cn=Global Settings,cn=cn=Microsoft

This global Microsoft Active Directory object “CN=UCE Content Filter” holds content filter configuration information used by the spam filter, and the information on this object applies across all servers in the system.
You must have elevated rights to create this container – either Exchange Full Administrator or Exchange Administrator role at the organization level. The first time that you try to upgrade to a released or SP1 version of Exchange Server 2003, your permissions will be checked and a warning displayed if you do not have the correct rights level. After the first upgrade is completed successfully, the system checks for the container and allows you to proceed with a more restricted permission set, such as Exchange Administrator role at the administrative group or higher.
I have tested installing SP2 on many machines, and so far I can only say that it seems to me that there is no actual need for this container to be present. IMF will work either way, or so it seems. Please do send me a feedback if you think otherwise.
In order to create this folder follow these steps:

  1. Go to Start > Run. Type adsiedit.msc and press Enter.

Note: In order to have the Adsiedit tool you will need to install the Windows Server 2003 Support Tools, found here: Download Windows 2003 Support Tools.

  1. Browse down to the location shown in the screenshot. Right click in the right frame and select new->object to create the new container (give it the proper name of course).


Create the proper registry entry
IMF also requires the presence of the following registry key:


This key is required for certain advanced functions. This key only exists if you previously had IMF v1 installed. If it is not present, create it manually and restart the SMTP service to enable the extended functionality.

Configuring IMF

In order to properly configure Intelligent Message Filter please read Configure Intelligent Message Filter in Exchange 2003 SP2.

After the configuration of IMF

Make sure you monitor your Junk Mail folder. Test your e-mail software (it does not necessarily have to be Outlook) and make sure you don’t have too many false positives. If you do, or if you see that legitimate e-mail is deleted or treated as junk you can always go back to the IMF configuration screen and lower your SCL rating. In order to view the SCL rating and understand how it works read the Display SCL Level in Outlook 2003, Display SCL Level in OWA 2003 SP2, Archiving the SCL Rating in Intelligent Message Filter and View Intelligent Message Filter Archive articles.
Note: IMF v2 will ignore messages that have attachments with the size of 3MB or larger. This is by design.
If you’re running Exchange 2003 SP2 you can (and should) read the Updating Intelligent Message Filter in Exchange Server 2003 SP2 page.

Further Reading

You might also want to read the following related articles:


Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 Release Notes
Exchange Intelligent Message Filter
Microsoft Exchange Intelligent Message Filter Deployment Guide (2.2mb)
Microsoft Exchange Intelligent Message Filter Readme