Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA)

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Why an email may not get delivered

The average person checks their mailbox every fifteen times in a day.

For most if not all, the first thing we do at work, is to check our mailbox and it is the last thing we do at close of work. It could be a frustrating day when our mail don’t get sent or delivered or we don’t receive the mail sent to us.

There are several reasons why an email may never get delivered to a mailbox. When an email is sent and a failed delivery message is received, several reasons can be attributed to this situation.

These can be:

  • Mailbox is over its allocated quota
  • The mail server being unresponsive
  • Virus was attached to message and virus scanner redirected the email
  • Authentication issues (the most common).
  • Network issues.
  • Blocked IP addresses (Customers IP address may be blacklisted).
  • SpamAssassin settings too strict (email spam filter).
  • Spammer (or more likely a compromised email account)
  • Misconfigured settings

When an email is sent, there are only two possible outcomes; either the email gets delivered or it bounces back with an error. There is no in-between and mail doesn't just "disappear into limbo" as many people believe.

A bounce error is also called a Non-Delivery Report/Receipt (NDR), a (failed) Delivery Status Notification (DSN) message, a Non-Delivery Notification (NDN) and is an automated electronic mail message from the mail server informing the sender about a delivery problem. There are two types of errors. Temporary errors are known as soft-bounce errors and permanent delivery errors and are known as hard-bounce errors. Temporary errors will usually be re-delivered, while permanent errors will be returned or bounced.

That being said, the most common cause is usually the user error in setting up the email on their mail client. Their mail client could be Outlook, Thunderbird, Eudora, etc. It is advised that users should check the configuration settings.

Should you face challenges with your mailbox, call in the experts in your organization to assist to resolve the problem.