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Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Help! My Email is Bouncing

Fortunately, sorted out their hosting issues in a fairly timely fashion last week but there is still an ongoing - and completely unrelated - issue with one of their outbound mail servers.

So, if you've seen a bounce-back message like the following, then this post is for you...
 From: [email protected]
[mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: 05 August 2013 11:21
To: [email protected]
Subject: failure notice

Hi. This is the qmail-send program at
I'm afraid I wasn't able to deliver your message to the following addresses.
This is a permanent error; I've given up. Sorry it didn't work out.

[recipient's IP address] does not like recipient.
Remote host said: 554 5.7.1 Rejected - your IP address was found in a blacklist for sending spam. Please visit:
Giving up on [recipient's IP address].
This sounds like scary stuff. Someone is accusing you of sending spam! That's simply not right, right?

The short answer is: don't panic. If you see a bounce-back message like that one, please wait a few minutes and send it again.

I'll explain why. Here's what's happening...

There are more than 20 servers for outgoing mail.

When you send an email, it gets sent via one of those 20 servers.

It seems that a couple of those servers are "compromised" this week. In other words, someone who "legitimately" signed up with the hosting company then used the server to send spam before their account could be closed down. This resulted on a couple of the IP addresses being blacklisted.

Since then, the system administrators have begun the process for removal from the blacklist. There is are a few hoops they have to jump through and they are doing everything by the book.In normal circumstances, this takes no longer than a week and could be considerably less.

This is all very unremarkable and just a part of the day-to-day running of a shared mail server system.

Currently, there are at least 18 outgoing (SMTP) servers at any given moment that are completely "clean".

Thus, your outgoing email will usually be fine. If it goes via one of those 18 servers, it will be delivered normally. It will only get bounced if (a) you are unlucky enough to get channeled through one of the compromised servers and (b) the recipient's mail server is subscribed to one of the blacklists.

So, to reiterate my original point, if you see a bounce-back, just wait five to fifteen minutes and send again. I appreciate this is an inconvenience, but it is temporary. The servers are on a timer of sorts, to balance the load of each server, so waiting a short while before resending will ensure you don't hit the same outgoing mail server the second time.