ActiveMQ Artemis Documentation

Message Redelivery and Undelivered Messages

Messages can be delivered unsuccessfully (e.g. if the transacted session used to consume them is rolled back). Such a message goes back to its queue ready to be redelivered. However, this means it is possible for a message to be delivered again and again without success thus remaining in the queue indefinitely, clogging the system.

There are 2 ways to deal with these undelivered messages:

  • Delayed redelivery.

    It is possible to delay messages redelivery. This gives the client some time to recover from any transient failures and to prevent overloading its network or CPU resources.

  • Dead Letter Address.

    It is also possible to configure a dead letter address so that after a specified number of unsuccessful deliveries, messages are removed from their queue and sent to the dead letter address. These messages will not be delivered again from this queue.

Both options can be combined for maximum flexibility.

Delayed Redelivery

Delaying redelivery can often be useful in cases where clients regularly fail or rollback. Without a delayed redelivery, the system can get into a "thrashing" state, with delivery being attempted, the client rolling back, and delivery being re-attempted ad infinitum in quick succession, consuming valuable CPU and network resources.

Configuring Delayed Redelivery

Delayed redelivery is defined in the address-setting configuration:

<!-- delay redelivery of messages for 5s -->
<address-setting match="jms.queue.exampleQueue">
<!-- default is 1.0 -->
<!-- default is 0 (no delay) -->
<!-- default is redelivery-delay * 10 -->


If a redelivery-delay is specified, Apache ActiveMQ Artemis will wait this delay before redelivering the messages.

By default, there is no redelivery delay (redelivery-delayis set to 0).

Other subsequent messages will be delivery regularly, only the cancelled message will be sent asynchronously back to the queue after the delay.

You can specify a multiplier (the redelivery-delay-multiplier) that will take effect on top of the redelivery-delay. Each time a message is redelivered the delay period will be equal to the previous delay redelivery-delay-multiplier. A max-redelivery-delay can be set to prevent the delay from becoming too large. The max-redelivery-delay is defaulted to redelivery-delay \ 10.


- redelivery-delay=5000, redelivery-delay-multiplier=2, max-redelivery-delay=15000

1. Delivery Attempt 1. (Unsuccessful)
2. Wait Delay Period: 5000
3. Delivery Attempt 2. (Unsuccessful)
4. Wait Delay Period: 10000                   // (5000  * 2) < max-delay-period.  Use 10000
5. Delivery Attempt 3: (Unsuccessful)
6. Wait Delay Period: 15000                   // (10000 * 2) > max-delay-period:  Use max-delay-delivery

Address wildcards can be used to configure redelivery delay for a set of addresses (see Understanding the Wildcard Syntax), so you don't have to specify redelivery delay individually for each address.


See the examples chapter for an example which shows how delayed redelivery is configured and used with JMS.

Dead Letter Addresses

To prevent a client infinitely receiving the same undelivered message (regardless of what is causing the unsuccessful deliveries), messaging systems define dead letter addresses: after a specified unsuccessful delivery attempts, the message is removed from its queue and sent to a dead letter address.

Any such messages can then be diverted to queue(s) where they can later be perused by the system administrator for action to be taken.

Apache ActiveMQ Artemis's addresses can be assigned a dead letter address. Once the messages have been unsuccessfully delivered for a given number of attempts, they are removed from their queue and sent to the relevant dead letter address. These dead letter messages can later be consumed from the dead letter address for further inspection.

Configuring Dead Letter Addresses

Dead letter address is defined in the address-setting configuration:

<!-- undelivered messages in exampleQueue will be sent to the dead letter address
deadLetterQueue after 3 unsuccessful delivery attempts -->
<address-setting match="jms.queue.exampleQueue">

If a dead-letter-address is not specified, messages will removed after max-delivery-attempts unsuccessful attempts.

By default, messages are redelivered 10 times at the maximum. Set max-delivery-attempts to -1 for infinite redeliveries.

A dead letter address can be set globally for a set of matching addresses and you can set max-delivery-attempts to -1 for a specific address setting to allow infinite redeliveries only for this address.

Address wildcards can be used to configure dead letter settings for a set of addresses (see Understanding the Wildcard Syntax).

Dead Letter Properties

Dead letter messages which are consumed from a dead letter address have the following properties:


    a String property containing the original address of the dead letter message


    a String property containing the original queue of the dead letter message


See: Dead Letter section of the Examples for an example that shows how dead letter is configured and used with JMS.

Delivery Count Persistence

In normal use, Apache ActiveMQ Artemis does not update delivery count persistently until a message is rolled back (i.e. the delivery count is not updated before the message is delivered to the consumer). In most messaging use cases, the messages are consumed, acknowledged and forgotten as soon as they are consumed. In these cases, updating the delivery count persistently before delivering the message would add an extra persistent step for each message delivered, implying a significant performance penalty.

However, if the delivery count is not updated persistently before the message delivery happens, in the event of a server crash, messages might have been delivered but that will not have been reflected in the delivery count. During the recovery phase, the server will not have knowledge of that and will deliver the message with redelivered set to false while it should be true.

As this behavior breaks strict JMS semantics, Apache ActiveMQ Artemis allows to persist delivery count before message delivery but this feature is disabled by default due to performance implications.

To enable it, set persist-delivery-count-before-delivery to true in broker.xml: