I have read documentation, but still am having a hard time understanding how I should change my configuration to fix this issue, esp. without causing other problems. Basically all seems to be working OK including CiviCRM tagging contact email addresses as non-deliverable (on hold). The issue I am having is CiviCRM is creating thousands of contacts each week with an email like [email protected]. Each one is connected to a contact called (Mail Delivery System) through an activity. The activity type is "Inbound Email" and the subject is "Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender".

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We are using Sendmail() to send bulk emails to our members and supporters, usually these number in the 1000s per week. We have a catchall@ email address that is seemingly working correctly to handle bounces. Here is our Mail Accounts setup.

Mail Accounts setup in CiviCRM

Should I just delete the "default" email-to-activity entry since we don't use that feature? Is it needed for something other than "email-to-activity"? I seem to recall an email tech contractor telling us it was important for something that I don't recall.

All contact records that are created have civimail+b(...) and not catchall+b(...) even though the created contacts seems to be related to bounce emails coming to catchall@ email with "[email protected]" as the sending email.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

As a side note is it bad to use Sendmail to send 1000s of emails vs mail()? That is how it has been set up for many years and I see now it says it's only kept around for older version of CiviCRM. It seems to be working OK.

(Drupal 7, CiviCRM 5.5.1, Debian 8, PHP 5.6, Postfix)

1 Answer 1


You say: Should I just delete the "default" email-to-activity entry

AFAIk there is no such default. Looking in dmaster.demo.civicrm.org i do not see one


I don't know that you need to delete it but changing the email address it uses should stop the problem.

  • Yes, I suppose it is just called "default" in the editable name field and Civi will allow me to delete the whole entry. Why would changing the email address help? Would it not just do the same thing with whichever new address I replaced it with?
    – desierto
    Oct 9, 2018 at 21:56
  • not sure. but clearly something to do with your mail going out, or bouncing, is going to the email address that is then being used to create Activities. If you set that up so it uses a different email then it would only create Activities for emails sent to that new email address
    – petednz - fuzion
    Oct 10, 2018 at 2:04
  • Thanks for your advice. I did do this and it seems to have worked to stop the activities and contacts being created. Now to figure out how to clean up the 10s of thousands of entries in the civicrm_activity table and more in the civicrm_activity_contact table without breaking anything (activity is over a gigabyte and activity_contact 350mb!). Deleting the contacts didn't seem to delete the activities... and the activities in the database aren't showing up on any contacts or searches.
    – desierto
    Oct 11, 2018 at 21:43
  • find contacts based on Activities - add them to a group - then delete the Activities - then delete the Contacts?
    – petednz - fuzion
    Oct 11, 2018 at 22:06

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