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One of the techniques many mail providers use to reduce the flood of spam is to limit how much email you can send in a certain period of time.

When sending emails from my Hotmail account, I have been receiving a message at the top of my message saying I have used the maximum allowable for sending messages in a 24-hour period and then I can't send any more emails for another 24 hours. It's says nothing in their Terms of Use Policy so what gives?

Once again, I get to place the blame on a very common culprit.

Spammers.

It's all about the spammers and how we have to pay for their misbehaviors.

Many email providers will limit the number of emails you can send in a particular period. However they may or may not tell you just exactly what those limits are. The limits are likely kept obscure so that they providers can adjust them as needed or perhaps even on a per-user basis.

The problem that they're trying to solve is twofold:

  • Spammers - Spammers sometimes use services like Hotmail directly to send their buckets of email. Putting a limit on how much you can send in any particular period makes their jobs more difficult. Sending hundreds or thousands of emails, as spammers do, is much more difficult if you can't do it all at once using a single account.

  • Botnets - Botnets are the result of random people's machines becoming infected and then being used to send email on the spammer's behalf. Thus any email service may face a flood of email from an infected machine. Throttling your ability to send large quantities of email is one way to battle the botnet legions.

"But it's still all the spammer's fault. Without them none of this would be needed."

I've even run into this in hotels when traveling. Many hotel or other free internet providers such as Wifi hotspots will capture your attempts to send email and send them through their own servers. The result is that they can enforce a limit on the number of emails you can send. The problem is that the times I've experienced it, it was a very small limit - something that an active emailer such as myself would run into.

Unfortunately there's little you can do. Perhaps a good provider may raise or remove a limit for you, but it's unlikely since it's a maintenance nightmare for them.

The only real recourse, besides waiting of course, is find another email provider with a more tolerant policy.

As for the Terms of Use (or Terms Of Service) policy, as I said it's unlikely that they would call out something as specific as number of emails that you're allowed to send. More likely is relatively vague terminology relating to spam or abuse where they can implement appropriate restrictions or policies to prevent both. By being vague about the specifics it gives them significantly more flexibility about what kinds of techniques they can use and how quickly they can implement them.

But it's still all the spammer's fault. Without them none of this would be needed.

Article C3233 - December 10, 2007 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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3 Comments
Sheila Short
April 4, 2009 6:08 AM

I can only send 10 e-mails at a time on Windows Live Messenger. It is annoying. Can I change that?

Sheila

angel harbert
May 12, 2010 2:27 PM

as a legitimate business dealing with the news media on deadline projects, being stopped from working is a crime.....telling me i can't send more than 250 emails a day is a joke! there has to be a balance in fighting spam. thanks godaddy.

Jim H
May 19, 2010 3:57 AM

As kind of a reverse to this I lost a good paying job when I couldn't return the acceptance email to the potential employer fast enough. My service provider, Comcast, was blacklisted by the service the company used to filter email and Internet traffic SPAM. It wasn't just me and my address, it was any email from a Comcast address. I tried sending it through my gmail and hotmail accounts and it still got bounced. I filled out the appeal form for the service that was blocking me but there was nothing I could do because I didn't speak for Comcast. I contacted Comcast and was told they were aware of it and working to correct the problem. Several days later it was fixed but meanwhile I had lost the job to somebody else.

Another time a Canadian friend sent me a joke about Viagra. I replied by using reply which sent my response and his original message back to him telling him it was a good joke along with some other chit-chat. The email got bounced back and the reason was I had been blacklisted as a "known spammer". I flipped! I guess the word "Viagra" in the email combined with animated emoticons he used which contained an active link to a site to download them to add to your email combined and got me banned from sending emails through his ISP. It took a week and several phone calls plus emails from both of us before I was unbanned and could email him again. Throughout it all he was able to email me. I just couldn't email him. Again, all email accounts I used were blocked

Yet another friend's ISP had begun using a nes filtering service called Barracuda and I had a hell of a time emailing him almost anything because it got bounced. I sent dozens of complaints to his ISP and to Barracuda. Nobody ever replied back but eventually the problem went away.

I am still really sore over the job thing.

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