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For Professionals >  User Guide > Email Problems

Is Your Email Working Properly?

mail 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 through.

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

sadTrying 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.

happyThe 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?

serverIf 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 message examples:

        Received: from mail.yourhostingservice.com [19.24.24.88] by yourhostingservice.com

        Received: from web32906.mail.mud.yahoo.com [209.191.69.83] by yourserver.com

        Received: from bay0-omc2-s9.bay0.hotmail.com [65.54.246.145] by yourserver.com

        Received: from hs-out-2122.google.com [64.233.178.240] 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; http://www.spamcop.net/fom-serve/cache/19.html

How do I determine the IP address of my mail server?

If you have checked your email header you will find an address like 64.233.178.240 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 displayed.

Email Problem Reporting Tools

Problem?        your mail server             client's filter may block your messages
youcomputermailarrowserver arrowThe Internetmailarrowserverfailcomputersad
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 Management System.

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 has occurred.

    (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 received.

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 the problem.

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

    (2) become 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 the blacklist.

Check the following blacklists at:

http://www.au.sorbs.net/lookup.shtml

http://www.mail-abuse.com/cgi-bin/lookup

http://spamcop.net/bl.shtml

http://www.spamhaus.org/lookup.lasso

http://www.njabl.org/lookup.html

http://dsbl.org/listing

http://cbl.abuseat.org/lookup.cgi

http://lashback.com

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 http://member.dnsstuff.com/pages/dnsreport.php 

Blacklist check, mail server diagnostic, MX lookup, SPF record check is at http://www.mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx

Blacklist check is at http://www.emailtools.co.uk/tools/blacklistcheck.htm

Blacklist check is at http://www.blacklist.ie

There is useful information at http://www.dnsbl.com with the Blacklist Statistics Center at http://stats.dnsbl.com

SpamLab Email Tools are at http://www.tools.appriver.com


SPF Records

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 spf-test@openspf.org to verify your mail server SPF record

To test the SPF record on your mail server, send an email message to spf-test@openspf.org.  You will then receive an "Undeliverable Mail" return email with a message like the following:

RCPT TO generated following response: 550 5.7.1 <spf-test@openspf.org>: Recipient address rejected: SPF Tests: Mail-From Result="pass": Mail From="support@expertgenealogy.com" HELO name="mail.thehostingservice.com" HELO Result="pass" Remote IP="199.246.24.158"
 

Look for the two results that specify "pass" which means your server SPF record is correct.

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