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User Guide > Email Problems
Is Your Email Working Properly?
At one time, email was a very reliable service. Unfortunately, spam email has changed that.
Email problems have become much too common. Is your email working properly? How can you
answer this question? If you send messages to people and they respond to your
messages, then obviously, your email is working. Do you get a reply from every
message that you send? What about those inquiries that you respond to and then
never get a reply, even after multiple requests? The fact that some message are
getting through, does not guarantee that all messages are getting
Your must have reliable Email to do business
on the Internet
To be successful in doing business on the Internet, you must be
vigilant to ensure that your emails are getting delivered. When you send a
message and hope for a reply, ensure that your message asks for a reply. If you
do not get a reply, you need to investigate.
The Bad News
Trying to determine why your email
gets lost is a technical problem that involves access to your mail server which
is managed by your Internet Service Provider and also the destination mail
server which is managed by the Internet Service Provider of your recipient.
Although you are the customer of your Internet Service Provider and therefore
have some influence on them, my experience is that they are unlikely to give the
problem the attention that it deserves. Unfortunately, you have little influence
on the management of the mail server of your recipient.
The Good News
Fortunately, it is
possible to take positive action to discover, report and then get email problems
fixed. Following is a description of some of the tools you can use to discover
the reason for the problem.
How can you have email problems when you
didn't do anything wrong?
Internet Service Providers provide email
services that are shared by hundreds or thousands of users. If one of those
users misbehaves or is a spammer, then the entire mail server is blacklisted
because it is recognized as a source of spam.
How do I determine my email server?
If you use an email program like Microsoft
Outlook, you must specify your email server. You get this information from your
Internet Service Provider, but it your email is already setup and you have
forgotten your email server, then you check the Email Accounts Setup within
Outlook to discover the name of your Email server.
If you send email via a web mail service with
your web browser then you probably did not configure your mail server. In this
case, it is probably easiest to simply send an email message to yourself and
then look at the email header where you will find the email server details. Most
web mail systems provide some mechanism for you to view the header information
that accompanies each mail message. You will need to study your web mail system
to discover how you can display the email header information. At the top of the
header you will find a message identifying your email server as in the following
from mail.yourhostingservice.com [220.127.116.11] by yourhostingservice.com
from web32906.mail.mud.yahoo.com [18.104.22.168] by yourserver.com
from bay0-omc2-s9.bay0.hotmail.com [22.214.171.124] by yourserver.com
from hs-out-2122.google.com [126.96.36.199] by yourserver.com
How can I view the email header?
Each email program has its own way of viewing
the email header information that is part of each email message.
The following website has instructions for many email client programs;
How do I determine the IP address of my mail
If you have checked your email header you will
find an address like 188.8.131.52 in the example above. Otherwise, go to
http://www.mxtoolbox.com, enter the domain name of your mail server, e.g.
rogers.com, and then press the MX LOOKUP button and the address will be
Email Problem Reporting Tools
your mail server
client's filter may block your messages
You & your mail server may be unable to send email
to your clients
Email was once a dependable service, but unfortunately, it is no longer
reliable. You many find it difficult or impossible to conduct business on the
Internet if you cannot communicate with your clients reliably. The Inquiry
Management System at eXpertGenealogy.com provides a solution to the problem.
Click here for more information on the Inquiry
The root cause for email unreliability is that unwanted spam email is so intrusive that
many varied uncoordinated and imperfect solutions have been implemented to try
to fix the spam problem. The consequence is that you may be unable to
successfully send some messages.
(1) You may find it difficult to determine that a failure
(2) If you do recognize that your messages are not being
received, you may find it difficult to determine why your messages on not being
The most common cause of this problem is that the mail server that you are
sending to, is blocking your messages because your mail server is on a black
list. Your mail server is a computer managed by your ISP Internet Service
Provider who must be made aware of the problem so that they can fix it. In many
cases, when your ISP investigates they will discover and report that they
forwarded the message correctly and the problem must be at the other end. At the
other end, the mail server of you client may be blocking your messages because
your server is on a black list. You and your ISP have no control on your clients
server and will find it difficult or impossible to determine which black list is
Many ISPs are not very helpful in finding the reason for the
problem and if that is the case then you should;
(1) stop doing business with your
ISP and get another more reliable and reasonable ISP or else
knowledgeable and identify the problem yourself.
Unfortunately in most cases,
you will be unable to fix the problem, but if you can show your ISP that their
server is on a black list, you should be able to get them to correct that
situation by encouraging them to get themselves removed from the blacklist.
Some of the providers of blacklists have websites that provide status
information on the mail servers that are included on these black lists. If you
find your mail server on one of these black lists, report it to your ISP and get
them to take action to remove their server from the black list. Most black lists
have a procedure where the ISP must prove that they have taken action to fix the
problem. Example website to check follow:
(1) Go to
http://www.five-ten-sg.com and then go to the
blackholes.five-ten-sg.com link where you can enter an IP address to
determine if it has a problem.
(2) Go to
http://spamcannibal.org where you can check an IP address to see if has been
a source of spam.
(3) Go to
http://www.uceprotect.net where you can check to see if an IP address is on
Check the following blacklists at:
Mail servers get on black lists because spammers have used these mail servers
to send spam. It's not your fault, but you will be affected. Many of the bigger
ISPs have this problem because their volume of business makes it difficult to
notice the spam. Free email providers like Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, and MSN, are a
target of spammers. The website hosting service from eXpertGenealogy also
includes email support. If your ISP does not solve your email problems consider
the eXpertGenealogy website hosting service which is only
$59.95/year and includes a website and email support.
The Declude Security Lab tools are at
http://tools.declude.com. Here you will
find SPAM tests, SPF tests, and Mail Server tools.
DNS report and Email Test are at
Blacklist check, mail server diagnostic, MX
lookup, SPF record check is at
Blacklist check is at
Blacklist check is at
There is useful information at
http://www.dnsbl.com with the Blacklist
Statistics Center at http://stats.dnsbl.com
SpamLab Email Tools are at
Sender Policy Framework SPF records provide a facility to eliminate some
spam. Your ISP should setup correct SPF records for your mail server.
Send an email message to
firstname.lastname@example.org to verify your mail server SPF record
To test the SPF record on your mail server, send an email message to
email@example.com. You will then receive an "Undeliverable Mail"
return email with a message like the following:
RCPT TO generated following response: 550 5.7.1 <firstname.lastname@example.org>:
Recipient address rejected: SPF Tests: Mail-From Result="pass": Mail
HELO name="mail.thehostingservice.com" HELO Result="pass" Remote
Look for the two results that specify "pass"
which means your server SPF record is correct.