General discussion

Growing number of e-mails sent, but not being received.

Mar 22, 2013 9:08AM PDT

Growing number of e-mails sent, but not being received. What's the deal?

Over the past 12 months or so I have slowly come to realize that e-mails are not always getting to their destination. This not just me but there is a growing number of acquaintances that have noticed the same thing when communication with others that have nothing to do with me both within the USA or Canada and cross the border.

This is extremely frustrating and expensive especially when it involves money e.g. ordering goods and making sales not to mention pissed-off family members. "The cheque is in the mail" has already worn thin and is, for the most part, not believed so how could a "but I sent you an e-mail!" be believed? Is there any explanation for this? Has anyone else noticed this? Thanks!

--Submitted by Nigel S.

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spam filters
Mar 22, 2013 10:29AM PDT

Noticed the same thing. More and more the security updates to spam filters or the outlook junk folder is catching the emails that are legitimate so I always check it to make sure it's only spam. About 10% of the messages trapped are legitimate.

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Track sent e-mails
Mar 22, 2013 10:44AM PDT
I use a program called MSGTAG, which is available in free and paid versions. It tags all your sent e-mails and you will be notified when e-mail is picked up. It is not 100% successful, but on my computer succeeds at least 95% of the time. If e-mail recipients deny receiving your e-mail, it is easy to see if the tag was picked up.
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issue is not receiving emails sent to us from the senders
Mar 23, 2013 12:53PM PDT

We are not receiving emails sent by's not that people are not receiving ours necessarily.

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MSGTAG doesn't work with web based email programs
Mar 29, 2013 10:27PM PDT

I use web based email, like Hotmail (now called Outlook, not to be confused with the older program Outlook/Outlook Express), Gmail and Yahoo mail. I just looked into MSGTAG and unfortunately, it doesn't work with them.

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Email Tracking Service
Feb 23, 2016 9:55AM PST

Try using 'getnotify'

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Growing number of e-mails sent, but not being received.
Mar 22, 2013 11:05AM PDT

I think they ARE being received. People are now aware that they are being held accountable for knowing (or doing) whatever was in the email. As a result, when they are "caught" not knowing something, or not doing something, they are claiming "I never received that email!". How could most people prove otherwise? I liked it when we could receive "your email has been read" receipts.

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What is your email client?
Mar 22, 2013 11:54AM PDT

To be able to diagnose the problem, I would need to know your email client ie: Outlook, Your ISP's email client, or address, Thunderbird, or one of the others. If it were just you, I could make an educated guess, but you say others in your immediate circle have the problem too. I would guess it's your copy of Windows that's bad, and that you used that same copy to install in your friends, and relatives computers that is causing the problems. When you find out what is causing your problems, you should share that with your friends, and family, to fix there problems.
As for what is causing your problem, I would contact your ISP. In many cases they can take control of your computer, and diagnose the problem there. If the problem is indeed with your computer, and not with the email client you use. In any case, it will allow another set of eyes to look over your problem, and maybe fix it.
Good luck, I hope your able to fix your problem.
The Masked Villian

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Remote Access
Mar 22, 2013 4:49PM PDT

" As for what is causing your problem, I would contact your ISP. In many cases they can take control of your computer, and diagnose the problem there."
Not much of a Masked Villain if you allow others to take control of your computer! .
For security, everyone should go into " Services " , and disable Remote Access .

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ISP, Dell, Microsoft, and paid 3rd party NO help.
Mar 23, 2013 12:56PM PDT

I have spent hours (literally) on the phone with my ISP (Comast), Microsoft, Dell, and a paid third party. All say they will fix the problem but none have fixed anything. This is a brand new computer from Dell.

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I have never experienced this...
Mar 22, 2013 2:26PM PDT

but then I also don't use any spam filters and I personally go through every email. I also change my email address periodically. It is possible that your recipients are missing the emails, even though they come in. It is easy to do if you are getting a lot of spam or if you use a spam filter. I also save all of my sent emails. If anyone ever tells me that they never received an email I can re-send it and I even have the information about when it was originally sent.

There is a possibility that you should look into. If your email account has been compromised and used to send out spam or viruses there is a distinct possibility that your email address has been blocked by some recipients or their service providers. This can happen without you ever knowing about it. If this has happened you may find it easiest to get a different email address. In fact, I keep an email address that is reserved for nothing but personal emails and another that is for business emails. If I ever receive even one spam message on either I immediately change it. It can be labor-intensive, but I have never found a better way to fix a potential problem. My "regular" email address is not used for anything that is important. Fortunately, I have only had to change an email address because of spam a few times.

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Mar 22, 2013 2:57PM PDT

I fix email as part of my job for my customers.

I have found one of the biggest problems is certain ISP's email systems are buggy, causing email to just disappear at times before reaching its destination.

It can seriously disappear, never reaching its destination, causing much stress and confusion.

When I detect a problem within a certain email company, (usually an ISP Email company's internal blocking filter or programming) I call them to report the problem, but have found more often than not, they are extremely slow to fix it.

Sometimes the easiest way to fix it, is to get a gmail email account. I have never had one lost email, with gmail and it supports many features.

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can I forward comcast email to gmail account?
Mar 23, 2013 12:59PM PDT

If I could somehow have Comcast email routed to gmail I wonder if the missing emails would lessen. I assume my replies would have a gmail address but maybe I would at least receive correspondence.

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Yes you can
Mar 23, 2013 1:15PM PDT
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Some email arrives, some do not--ever
Mar 22, 2015 5:12AM PDT

I have serveral email accounts and one of my customers is unable to get email to any of those accounts: AOL, gmail, or Neither my desktop computer nor my iphone, nor my laptop are receiving these missing emails. Ebay missed an email yesterday and I only noticed it because the unanswered question was on my ebay page. It has to be the server (Charter) so we're going to check with them today. Very strange indeed.

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True. I like Leo's answer on this.
Mar 22, 2015 5:24AM PDT
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I have run into this on a gmail address, but
Jan 29, 2016 8:02AM PST

I suspect it has something to do with many years ago, and in going to stop the periodic spam message, I mucked around with bouncing the spam back to sender while spoofing an invalid email address situation. It stopped the spam, but there have been a few, albeit a small minority of individuals who have had trouble emailing me.

This first came up when one of my sister's emailed an invitation to something, I never got, then the "did you get my email?" "what email?"... It's happened with a few other individuals, and the only easy fix I've found is to get their email and email them, and then theirs seems to come through fine. It isn't the one lost email either, but anything from a given sender. But most senders don't have a problem, so no idea.

It can be a bit vexing, and knowing this has happened, when you give someone you have recently met your email, especially if you've asked them to pass something along. Because it's one of those "all should be fine", but with a "well a small minority of individuals have had trouble sending something, so it MIGHT come up again with them", even though it's extremely unlikely for any given individual.

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e-mails sent, but not being received.
Mar 22, 2013 3:49PM PDT

Hi Nigel, you will not get a definitive answer unless you provide some details.
1/ what email client are you using ?? Outlook Thunderbird, Gmail etc.
2/ what OS are you using ?? windows XP or 7 or 8, Mac, ubuntu, etc.
3/ what ISP are you using ???
4/ what firewall
5/ what anti virus ???
6/ Have you run malware and anti virus scans recently?

As you can see there are a lot of information needed to start diagnostics.

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I only have further questions
Mar 22, 2013 6:00PM PDT

It has been 10 years now since my e-mails would show up days after being sent and spoke to my sister a few states away and she was having the same issue; we were using G-Mail; we switched to Yahoo and have never had a problem since.

It is very disturbing to receive an e-mail days after being sent but have no reason why.

Off topic but have always wondered why I could send an e-mail to a girlfriend in Pa and she would be really upset as there was perhaps 12 strange characters that looked like Chinese; my GF thought I was playing games and when I asked her to return the e-mail she received it was just as I typed them until months later I received one of the strange looking e-mail messages myself ... I am still baffled but I know little about tech.

I have had no issues for years now but am curious about this problem.

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Google Mail is The Problem
Mar 22, 2013 6:59PM PDT

Google's email system is quite likely the culprit. I have had a gmail account ever since Google opened their system up to us in the UK. Over the past two years or so I began receiving emails from various place, most notably the US and Canada, that had similar addresses to mine, with dots in different places, or no dots at all. Apparently Google's mail system strips out any "fillers" such as dots, dashes and underscores.

My address format is but I regularly receive emails addressed to, as well as I have tried tackling Google about this but their response is "it can't happen", despite my providing proof that it does. I have had a raft of site registration confirmations as well as more personal communications; even repeated FaceBook password reset requests.

So my guess is that if you are using a gmail or googlemail account then there is the distinct likelihood that your address is being repeated in a slightly different format, or the supposed recipients (if they have gmail addresses) are having your emails redirected to someone else.

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Sorry, pjw, but
Mar 23, 2013 1:58AM PDT

the --same-- thing happens in Yahoo and Thunderbird...I have tracked it as far as packet routers 'assuming' what you wanted, but more often it has to do with spam filters vs spam 'generators' muddying up the readers. One way to identify the problem is to read through 'full headers', but even that is not complete.

I have had similar issues of delays and mis-routings, and to date there has been no definitive answer...just electrons doing their thang playing with ones and zeros! The controllers will never admit a problem until they are affected financially...even then maybe not!

About the only thing you can do is monitor spam folders religiously, and use third-party confirmers such as MSGTAG mentioned above.

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Might be your recipients ISP.
Mar 22, 2013 6:54PM PDT

my ISP uses a very aggressive spam filter on my POP3 email service and to their credit, I rarely receive any spam, even on an email address I've had for over 10 years. However, their filter does have an element of false positives, about 1 or 2%, I think. None of the spam messages are sent to my email client (Thunderbird) so never show up in the junk or spam folders. Instead, the ISP holds them on the server for 10 days, then deletes them automatically. The only way to see these messages is to logon via webmail, whereupon, the server spam folder is visible.

If you know a message was sent but hasn't arrived, it may be worth your recipient checking their ISP server folders, where this is possible.


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Aggressive Spam Filtering May Be To Blame
Mar 22, 2013 10:40PM PDT

I have occasionally had the same problem. If if your email goes through to some recipients but not to others, the problem is very unlikely to be in your own email client or computer.

Some intended recipients only permit mail to go through to their clients from specifically allowed senders -- these paranoiacs have brought it on themselves.

However, there are these big spam clearinghouses that many ISPs employ fairly aggressively to prevent the delivery of email from flagged addresses. The most prominent of these is called "The Spamhaus Project," and they maintain an enormous "Blocklist" of IP addresses. Some of these are whole class C networks, and in some cases where ISPs have been extensively exploited by spammers, even entire class B networks. If your address is included on one of these lists, or is passing through an SMPT server that is on one of these lists, your mail will not go through to recipients who receive their emails through ISPs that employ the lists.

Note that you can get on these lists even though you never sent a piece of spam in your life. The SMPT server you use to send your mail is used by others, and one or more of those other users may be the offenders. Your inclusion on the blocklist is just collateral damage.

You can go to their website at and check to see if your IP address is blocklisted. Note that the IP address in this case is unlikely to be the one of your individual computer, particularly if it is on a home network behind a router. It is likelier to be the IP address of the SMPT server you use to send mail, which you can obtain from the FULL headers in your email. Your ISP's technical support staff may be able to assist you if you are unable to determine this on your own.

I have found MSN/Hotmail to be a particularly aggressive employer of this spam blocking service.

If you find that you are blocklisted, you can petition to have your address removed from the blocklist. They're pretty good about it, but it takes about a day. Again, your ISP's technical support may be able to help.

The only problem with this theory is that you usually get notified in your client that your email has been blocked. This takes the form of a return post that indicates the specific reason for the non-receipt. This would NOT be the case if the block consisted of a filter in the recipient's email client. There is nothing you can do about that but talk to the recipient -- the intended recipient has to fix it.

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Spam Filtering Lookups
Mar 29, 2013 2:40PM PDT

Second that. As far as I know google doesn't use but Yahoo and Hotmail can't protect their users and have to rely on third party help.

I was sending messages to a few clients and those with Yahoo and Hotmail didn't receive them. It turns out that my mail server was blocked by

It's not just spamhaus. There are other IP based and domain based blocklists. They will block you but they will not provide an automated tool to search their databases and alert you when you are blocked. Unless you create one for yourself or manually check their databases you have to wait for customers to report the problem.

I worked with support to clear this up and they gave me this address as the best tool out there to manually check against multiple databases if your IP is blocked:

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Sent Emails being Blocked
Mar 22, 2013 10:57PM PDT

Blocked emails can be a real problem especially if you rely on email for business. I have not experienced this problem personally but many of my clients have had the problem. The issues I have seen appear to be much greater with clients of mine that are sending overseas emails. Due to the ever increasing number of infected emails, spam and junk mail, everyone is trying their best to block or at least reduce the number of bad emails that get through. So when you take into consideration the complex electronic journey that email must make and the number of possible places that your email could be stopped, it is amazing that any of it gets through at all. Unfortunately, since all parties involved are trying desperately to improve the detection of bad emails, the rules are changing constantly.

Where can email be blocked? - Your email can be block by anyone of the following:
1. The security software on the sender's own computer (least likely).

2. Spam and Virus filters at the sender's Email provider or company email server.

3. Spam /virus/Black list filters at the recipient's email provider and/or company email server. Some companies may even pay to reroute email to a 3rd party company to check mail before it even gets to their own email servers
4. Spam and/or virus software on the recipient's own computer.

5. Spam filter within the recipient's own email client program such as Outlook

How is E-Mail Blocked? - There are many types of scans, filters and methods to check mail for viruses and spam and the rules change constantly to attempt to keep up with the bad guys. But just to give you a few quick examples:
A. Some systems may check for key words within the subject line and the body of the message. Some of the obvious words like Viagra would trigger the email to be blocked. Did you happen to notice how may junk emails will now misspell key words like Viagra to try to avoid being picked up by spam filters.

B. Other filtering m ethods may include checking mail against a list of known bad email senders. Thus the reason many spammers like to break into Yahoo, gmail and AOL accounts so send out spam under someone else's email address. This also gives them your address book to send to and increases the likelihood that the email will be opened because it looks like it is coming from someone you know.

C. The Senders IP address may be checked against a list of IP addresses known to be sending out Junk mail.
There are many, many more methods to scan and filter e-mails.

How do I reduce the chances of my email being blocked? - Here are a few way that you can reduce the likelihood of your email being blocked.

1. Avoid sending emails with links to websites. If you must send a web address to someone, send the address as text and not as a link.

2. Avoid using images within your emails such as company headers, logos or custom stationary.

3. Change your email settings to send emails as plain text. This is especially helpful when sending emails overseas.

4. Avoid using obvious key words within the subject line and body of your message. Words like Viagra, Sex and many 4 letter words may cause your email to be blocked. I have found that even placing the Word "TEST" in the subject line when I am testing clients email will get blocked my own email system.

5. Be very careful when forwarding someone else's email. It may contain links to infected websites or contain items that may be blocked. If you forward too many junk emails, you could be black listed yourself.

6. If you are having trouble receiving emails, you may want to log into your email providers site and change your spam filter settings. Many providers will have adjustable settings that you can change or even place specific email addresses in a do not block list (White List).

7. If you are really only having problems sending email to a single person, you may need to tell him to put you in his email address book or he may need to add you to a list of acceptable email addresses with his email provider.

8. Protect your email account by changing the password often and use a secure password that includes both letters and numbers as well as upper and lowercase letters. Avoid common words that would be easy for a computer to guess. If your email account does get compromised and someone sends out spam or infected emails under your account, your account could be black listed and then blocked by some email systems.

9. If you find that your emails are increasingly being blocked to many different people and you have tried all of my suggestions, then you or your email provider may be blacklisted (on some list of spammers). You may need to contact your mail provider or even move your email account to another hosting company.

I have noticed some suggestions of sending emails with received requests and using 3rd party email systems that send what is similar to a registered letter. It was once popular to send emails with the Delivery Receipt or Read Receipt request and many company email systems rejected this because it was clogging up there email servers with sending back delivery receipts (Thus doubling the number of emails that their servers needed to process). I am not sure how this is being handled today or if this is still a problem. I know that occasionally I will receive an email with a read receipt request and I always refuse them, on principle.

I hope this may help you a little and sometimes it takes a little experimenting to determine exactly where the problem is coming from.

Wayland Computer

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Something else that needs to be considered!
Mar 29, 2013 11:15AM PDT

I use GMail and here is what I have experienced. I have an E-mail address that may be proof that our E-mails are not as private as we think they are. I got this address (< because I was forwarding an E-mail I thought was a phishing attack against the authentic owner of the website the E-mail purportedly came from -- to enable them to report the problem and prevent phishing attackers from using this website's e-mail address as a tool of deception. The message bounced back with this message added to the subject: Delivery Status Notification (Failure) - [AKO Content Violation - SPAM]. So, what do all of you think of this?

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Where did you get the idea that emails were private?
Mar 29, 2013 7:51PM PDT

Emails are far from private. Especially gmail... Google reads and scans all your mail. They even scan your emails for key words and then send you ads based on what they find in those emails.

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My answer.
Apr 2, 2013 5:48AM PDT

I know about the issue of Google scanning E-mails (I think that there is a BIG difference between a computer program scanning my E-mail and a person scanning my E-mail, but that is a totally a different discussion). The issue I have is, why does the military have to get involved with the E-mail system!!!!!!

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This covers a wide area of problems
Mar 29, 2013 11:34AM PDT

If you have sent mail to the recipient address in the past, my first guess would be spam filtering at either the ISP or receiver mail client. If it's at the ISP level, messages will never get delivered even to a spam folder. Everyone you contact will need to contact their own provider to painstakingly troubleshoot the problem. You providing them with exact dates and times cab be helpful to all involved. Like a poster before said m make sure you have not been blacklisted, a terrible process to fix if you have been. If you are sending to a company that is using Exchange and an email cannot be delivered, you will receive a bounceback email with av 3 digit code 5xx. You can then search the internet for "exchange error codes" to identify the issue.
These types of email issues are extremely frustrating to deal with and troubleshoot. Best of luck.

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difficulty in getting Emails sent
Apr 1, 2013 3:15AM PDT

Last week, there were several days that I could not get my emails sent. Apparently, Time Warner Cable was overloaded, and switched to their Tampa system. (I live in NYC!) I finally gave up, but where I could, I sent responses to the same people,but I knew they were on Facebook. Sending messages to people on Facebook was one way of circumnavigating a non-working TWC Email system!

So far, TWC email systems are working this week. I think they get dumped upon, with all the Spam email.

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Two more ideas
Apr 1, 2013 4:35AM PDT

Thanks, Dana. Very comprehensive.

1. I've just turned my send scan (Norton Internet Security) back on. It occurred to me that email may have a code embedded within them to indicate they have been scanned on the way out.

2. That I may need to update my MS Outlook version 6!!

Nigel S (The creator of this thread)

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