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Email SOS: Troubleshooting Tactics to Rescue Your Inbox

There are few things more frustrating than waiting for that important email to come through, only to find it never arrives, or receiving a call asking why the documents you sent over never showed up. Let's face it, email is the lifeline many businesses run on, and any hiccups can cause huge headaches. So, what can you do when you inevitably run into an issue? Luckily, we're here to give you some tips to help calm your email woes in times of need before waiting for tech support.

Always check for what is called a "bounce" message. Often, when a message isn't delivered, you'll receive an email back from the server telling you why it couldn't be delivered. The most common message will be "sender not found." This issue is usually caused by a typo in the email, such as a zero instead of an O, a missing period, or even just a mistyped name. If you get the "sender not found" message, simply check the address for errors and try again. If the address is correct and you still get this message, there is a chance the email address itself has been disabled, so reach out to the recipient to find out.

Another common bounce message is "Undeliverable." This message could be due to a number of things, including the recipient's server being temporarily down, overloaded, or even not found. Unlike the "sender not found" message, "undeliverable" would be a domain-wide issue, or the part after the @ symbol. Try resending the message later, and if it's still bouncing, your best bet is to give the recipient a call and see what's going on.

Ultimately, if you're getting a bounce message, you just need to read the message and see what the description says is the reason. If you are having trouble understanding the reason, take the error number and error and throw it into Google for a more detailed description with tips to troubleshoot that specific issue. An example of this search would be to copy the "5.5.3 Too many recipients" and search it for a detailed explanation and troubleshooting tips.

What if you didn't get a bounce message, though? Well, now it's time to put on your detective hat and start troubleshooting. The first step is to check spam/junk folders. Messages are commonly sent to these folders as "false positives" or incorrectly marked as junk mail. This can be due to the language in the email, attachments, or simply using a domain. Spam filters look through emails for trends that match known spam to classify them as spam or legitimate, and sometimes legitimate messages get marked incorrectly.

Still not there? Check your "sent" folder and "outbox" folder. If the email is in your "sent" folder, it has left the building, and the issue is on the recipient's end. Conversely, if it's still in your outbox, it has not been sent yet and is waiting to send. In the case of the message being sent, let your recipient know that there may be an issue on their end that they need to troubleshoot to see why mail isn't coming in. It could be anything from an overloaded mail server to overly strict mail filtering. If it's sitting in your outbox, it's time to dig a little bit deeper to see why your email isn't going out.

Mail stuck in your outbox is going to require some troubleshooting with your mail service. The first thing to consider is whether there are any attachments and how big they are. If you're trying to email a large attachment, that is likely the culprit slowing down delivery. Think of it as putting a 500lbs box in your mailbox for your mailman to pick up. He may struggle a bit to get it into his truck and off to delivery compared to just a simple letter. Next, check that your internet is working. If your mail service can't connect, it can't send, and this can also be the case if the connection is unstable. Lastly, make sure you are fully logged into the service. If your login has expired, this will cause messages you send to sit in your outbox until you log in again.

If you have gone through all of this and are still having issues, it may be time to contact your IT department, Managed Service Provider, or tech pro. While these tips can help you to solve most email issues on your own and get those emails flowing immediately, sometimes things break at points that may be beyond your expertise or control, and that's where your technology partners come into play. We hope that these tips help take at least one point of stress out of your busy workday, and feel free to contact All American Cyber to assist you with all your email and business IT needs.

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