Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Email usually works, but it can fail to arrive for a number of reasons. Being blocked is only one. It's nearly impossible to tell which has happened.

How can I tell if my email address has been blocked? The email address I send to is good and working, the only problem is, it's not working for me; have I been blocked? Is there any way of knowing if my emails ever get opened or deleted? And if I'm blocked, it is my email address that's blocked or my IP address?

The ultra-short answer is: there's just no way to know for sure.

Let's look at why I say that.

The root problem is that there are simply so many reasons your mail may not get through these days that it's practically impossible to determine which reason is contributing to your situation. On top of that it could be a combination of reasons.

Here are just a few reasons that your email may get to some people, but not all...

  • The recipient you're having problems with may have a particularly aggressive spam filter, and your mail may be getting filtered as spam based on its content. Make sure that the message you send is totally benign from a spam perspective - no words or phrases that would possibly trigger a spam filter.

  • The recipient you're having problems with may have a particularly aggressive spam filter, and your mail may be getting filtered as spam because of configuration issue with your email. The most common scenario involves sending "From:" one address using the services of another ISP. For example if I were to send "From:" some email@ask-leo.com, but us the mail servers of my ISP, "covad.net" to do it. In theory it's legitimate, but it's also one of the ways that spam works and thus subject to some extra scrutiny.

  • Yes, your IP could be on a blacklist somewhere. If your IP address has been known to send large amounts of spam it could have been blacklisted by one or more of the blacklisting services, and your recipient's mail provider may use that service to block spam.

  • It could also be the IP address of your mail provider that's causing a problem. When you send email it's first sent to your email provider's server, and from there it gets sent on to its final destination. If your email provider has been seen as a source of spam in the past then it's IP address or address ranges could appear on a blacklist. Once again, your recipient's mail provider might use a service providing that blacklist to block spam.

  • Your recipient's email program might be at fault: it could decide that your email is spam for any number of reasons, and discard your email.

"There's no guarantee that you'll get any kind of notification. In fact, it's most likely that you will not."

In all the cases above, when your email gets filtered as spam there's no guarantee that you'll be notified. There's not even any guarantee that your recipient will even get the chance to see your email in a spam folder. Quite frequently the email is simply discarded.

While spam is the biggest reason your mail might not make it through, there are others:

  • Your recipient's email program might be misconfigured - particularly if they use "inbox rules" to automatically organize email.

  • Your recipient might simply have deleted the email.

  • And yes, lastly, your recipient might have blocked you somehow.

There's no guarantee that you'll get any kind of notification. In fact, it's most likely that you will not.

And to top it all of, as I've written about before, there's no reliable way to track if email has been opened or deleted.

If you find yourself in this situation, you can certainly ask your recipient to "whitelist" you, which may bypass some of the possibilities I've mentioned above. But ultimately I would try using a different email account via a different provider to try communicating with whomever it is you're having troubles with.

Article C3177 - October 11, 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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15 Comments
petrit
May 8, 2008 1:56 PM

ahah

Morgan
November 7, 2008 8:38 PM

If I'm able to send an e-mail to an address how do I know whether I'm blocked or that my e-mail is just being either deleted/read?

You don't. There is no way to know for sure.
- Leo
08-Nov-2008

Adeline Hatamosa
January 16, 2009 9:33 PM

I deleted my account because there was a stalker on one of the members of wayn. I want to sign up again but my email address is blocked.

mustapha merzougui
March 20, 2009 6:20 PM

to include my question.The problem is that my Live messenger works normally,my mail box opens normally,butI can not open nor read any of my emails since at least 7 days ago.What should I do?Thank you!

velda archer
November 7, 2009 7:06 AM

changed from windows to yahoo mail,have not received emails since making that change on tuesday.

bob
January 7, 2010 1:48 PM

my email blocked since 4 dayes and i donnot why and how to resolve

Leandra
June 1, 2010 4:28 AM

I'm trying to send emails for last few months and I can't send emails. Can only receive emails. Hotmail said that my account are blocked. But why? I need a answer very urgently.

Mohammad Imran
June 5, 2010 11:31 PM

my email has been hacked and the hacker is using it or illegal purpose

Dilip
July 29, 2010 2:20 AM

Hi, I have a slightly different problem. Spammers have used my email id as an alias for many years (maybe due to poor server setup), causing my genuine business email to be listed on a lot of spammer lists for no fault of mine. Most of the spam seems to originate from Russia, but I still get the message that spam is originating from my IP address in some lists like Barracuda, which is not possible. How can I prevent my email id from being used as an alias and how can I get it removed from these filter lists?

To the best of my knowledge you cannot. More here: Someone's sending from my email address! How do I stop them?!
Leo
29-Jul-2010

E. R. WEBB
June 27, 2011 9:06 AM

i have a sister WITH WHOME I COMMUNICATE with OVER the compuer. as I AM DEAF AND CANNOT USE THE PHONE. WE HAVE DONE THIS FOR YEARS,, BUT THE OTHER DAY THERE WAS A NOTICE THAT HER DOMAIN WAS BLOCKED IF INDEED IT IS BLOCKED IT WAS A MISTAKE, HOW CAN THIS BE REPAIRED SO THAT WE CAN COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER AGAIN? WE BOTH ARE ELDERLY PEOPLE SO MAKE THE ANSWER SIMPLE.WE ARE BOTH NOVICES WHEN SOMNETHING IS WRONG ON THE COMPUTER


Mark J
June 27, 2011 1:56 PM

@E.R.
If you sister's domain is blocked, the best thing she could so would be to contact her ISP (Internet company) and ask them about this.

charoen rajbundit
September 15, 2011 1:56 AM

my e-mail is blocked,maybe someone use my emailI can't open it..I would like to recover rajbundit_c@hotmail.com again and wish to change a new password..someone from security asked some question and need the answer about pre-paid card number,credit card 4 last digit number and expire date, I have none creddit card,such column still requested me to fill up the column how can I do that my credit card not available. So please re-open it for me again and a new password will be changed later..Thank you.

This article discusses recovery options for the various ways that Hotmail accounts can be lost or compromised: What are my Lost Hotmail Account and Password Recovery Options?
Leo
15-Sep-2011

Cathy Tucker
December 31, 2012 8:12 AM

Why am I blocked. I am only talking with people who are asking me questions?

Jewelena
March 8, 2013 4:55 AM

I can do every thing but get or send email what is wrong

Levi Dumaguing
April 5, 2013 12:28 AM

HI! there, my e mail has been blocked I cannot send any emails to my friend. pls. help me thnx....

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