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How and why do e-mails bounce?

How and why do e-mails bounce?

When the intended recipient does not receive an e-mail and it is sent back to the sender, it is said that the e-mail has bounced. The sender receives an error message to that effect. But what exactly happens when an email bounces?

When an e-mail has been sent the sender e-mail system makes contact with the recipient mail server. The mail server checks for any message to allow or disallow such a mail to pass through. Some of the circumstances under which an email bounces are these:

Hard Bounce:

  • The mail server has barred receiving of mails from the senders address. (For example, if the address of the sender is blocked.)
  • The recipient mail server is too busy to handle the request.

Soft Bounce:

  • The e-mail address does not exist on the recipient mail server.
  • The e-mail address is erroneous or miss spelt.
  • The recipient exists but does not have enough disk space to accept the message.
  • If the message size is much bigger than the message size pre-decided by the server.

Sometimes, an e-mail may bounce back due to network failure on the recipient server.


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