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

One of the casualties of the war against spam is reliable email deliverability. Sometimes mail simply never shows up. We'll look at what can be done.

I have a problem receiving email in my Hotmail accounts. I have my friends and family that are able to email without a problem. Suddenly these past few weeks I can't get emails from my father. I have checked the filters and all and there is no indication as to why. I have contacted Hotmail and their response is to check my filters, unblock them and that will work. As I said, I'd already done that. Their next idea was to see if the sender got a bounce back but they didn't. There is nothing indicating this issue is on my side or the sender's other than I am not receiving emails and I don't know if this could be a problem for anyone else as I just heard this from my father. Do you know of anything that I can do?

This turns out to be a fairly common problem, and not just for Hotmail. Yahoo and other email services seem to suffer the same problem from time to time.

And no, I know of nothing you can do.

Strike that, I do know of one thing you can do, but you won't like it.

As you've described, the scenario is very, very simple:

  • Someone sends you an email

  • You don't get it

  • The sender doesn't get any indication that the mail wasn't delivered

"And it really is all about spam."

It's the worst of all possible scenarios - you can't know what you didn't receive, and the sender has no indication that nothing was delivered. Neither of you realize that there's any problem until much, much later.

It's the most frustrating of all possible scenarios.

And to cover the stock recommendations:

  • Check your junk mail folder

  • Clear any filters you have set that might automatically act on incoming email

  • Add the sender's email address to your address book. On some email providers this acts as a kind of "whitelist", or at least increases the probability that email from that person will get delivered

  • Make sure that the sender isn't sending something that "looks like" spam. For example if his email is talking about enlarging body parts, then it's highly likely to get filtered as spam. Sadly it doesn't have to be that blatant - legitimate messages about breast cancer, free offers, business opportunities and more can often be confused with, and filtered as, spam

And it really is all about spam. Chances are that your email provider, Hotmail in this case, is simply being overly aggressive about filtering spam. (And unfortunately in doing so, there are actually reasonable arguments for not sending a bounce message - many spammers actually rely on bounce messages to either legitimize an email address, or to actually carry their spam message.)

So, what can you really do?

Aside from what I've listed so far, nothing.

I wish that email providers, particularly the free ones, gave you more direct control over what is, and is not, spam to you. Truly paying attention to your address book would go a long way to solving the issue, but as you can see that's not happening consistently.

So what's the one thing to do that I said you won't like?

Use a different email provider.

Stop using Hotmail.

Find an email provider that is more responsive to its customers needs. GMail currently appears to be the best of the free services, but email reliability is also worth paying for, if that's what it takes.

Article C3382 - May 14, 2008 « »

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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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35 Comments
Andrea Schumann
May 15, 2008 6:54 AM

Hi Leo,

I had a similar problem a while back. All of my friends could not receive emails from my Dishmail account. I received no "bounce" and they never received my emails. I contacted Dishmail and they reported that Yahoo had blacklisted them as an email provider that sent too many spam emails or something along that vein. They said that they were negotiating with Yahoo and recommended that I contact Yahoo as well. I did contact Yahoo and after several complaints to them about this problem along with Dishmail's persistence, Yahoo finally lifted their ban. So the user might want to have his father check with his ISP to see if it's a similar scenario.

alan berry
May 20, 2008 2:24 PM

I too have e mails that go missing, I thought that my ex boss had got someone to hack into my business email address, but i am still waiting for my ISP to get back to me, is it possible for someone to hack into an e mail address, and put a fliter in, and let some types of mail get through.

dunstergirl
May 22, 2008 11:50 PM

The other thing to consider is that sometimes things just "get lost in the mail." Seriously. I've been doing email for work etc. for nearly 2 decades now and periodically messages just disappear in the ether. No reason (and some of these happened long before spam filters etc.), so now when a message is important I either cc myself (so I can see it come back to me and feel somewhat assured it also got to the sender) or better, request a read receipt so I KNOW it got to the sender, or both. If I don't see my message come back to me (when I've cced myself) or get a read receipt in some reasonable period of time, I send it again, just to be sure. When it's business and the files are important, you can't take chances.

I also check in with clients etc. who I think may be sending me things and I haven't seen them when I should, for the same reason.

It may be spam filters, but sometimes it's just the electronic equivalent of bad sorting in the mail room (or worse, a lost mail bag). Which also happens with snail mail more than you care to think about.

Cheers,
Lelani

Corrine Barlow
November 16, 2008 2:09 PM

I am not receiving email from my daughter and friend both of whom I have written to for a long time. They are not receiving mine either.It upsets me.

Liane Durkin
November 18, 2008 5:05 AM

Hi, I've can no longer get emails from my dad, it doesn't matter if he replies to one I've sent him or if he sends me a new email, or even if I'm cc'd in - everyone else gets emails from him and I THINK I'm getting emails from everyone else ok just not from my dad. I've checked he's in my safe list. He gets no notification that emails haven't reached me. I really don't know what to do!
Liane.

Tina
January 8, 2009 1:30 PM

I had this same problem for a while, a good friend of mine was sending me emails which i never recieved however he could receive my emails, i found after a lot of searching that he had infact been blocked which was not something i did myself...i used the following steps which solved my problem even though i wasnt aware this person had been blocked, Go to inbox select options on the right hand of the screen, select more options, then under the junk e-mail selection select safe and blocked senders then select blocked senders check to see if the person ur not getting mail from is listed, if they are simply click on there name and select remove from list...i hope this solves ur problem ..it did for me!

Flora Seter
January 25, 2009 7:50 AM

I am not receiving any e-mails at all not even junk mails which I used to - I am not too happy about my new situation - I usually received e-mails from hsn.com and qvc.com not nothing. Please tell me how I can changed from hotmail to regular.

Emily
January 29, 2009 6:51 PM

For a month now, I have not been receiving emails PERIOD! I have had a hotmail account for 4 years, but this is ridiculous. I feel blind and lost. Who knows what I've missed? I don't want to use my school email for everything, so I am going to drop hotmail and get a gmail account, which I heard, is more reliable. Frustrating!!!!!

David B
March 10, 2009 5:07 PM

Tina's fix worked for me too !!

Natasha
March 17, 2009 5:08 PM

Thank you Tina, that worked for me too...although I have no idea how anyone got added to that list!!!

margaret blake
April 22, 2009 2:35 AM

i havent received any e mails that have been sent to me for a week now

Zack Strulovitch
May 17, 2009 3:31 PM

I had the same prob, no bad filters, nothingin junk mail.
But when I went to "Contact List" , Chose the person whom I don't get the emails from, Recent email and then I marked the email as safe
now I can get the emails from him again

Dave Lancaster
August 6, 2009 3:43 PM

Similar problem but with a slight twist. Sometimes an email gets through to the recipient and sometimes it doesn't. Only know of one recipient at one business. Messages to others at the same business seem to get through OK. It's not a free account it's a paid MSN account.

Stuart Redgewell
November 21, 2009 2:19 PM

I have a similar story to these other poor souls...
I have used Hotmail for many moons now and only recently are no longer receiving emails from a friend of mine.
He will often send an email to many people and the only time I know it has been sent is when someone else 'replies to all' to the message then suddenly I'm presented with a conversation that has been going on for quite a few messages.
I have looked at my safe list and his email is most definately in there and I have absolutely noone on my blocked list.
I just can't figure it out and it's stupidly frustrating that I seem to missing so much.
And what's worse, like the article said, there appears to be very little (if nothing you can do about it).

trix
December 18, 2009 11:41 AM

why is my MSN different on 1 computer and looks like the normal MSN on another computer in my office?

chelsea
January 30, 2010 6:21 AM

i want to change my facebook password and i dont seem to be getting the email for this and it is frustrating me.

Me
February 17, 2010 3:27 PM

I have4 hotmaill accounts all forwarded to a 5th!Was not receiving any mails at all! When I looked into my blocked senders, all accounts that were being forwarded were in the blocked list. Im not saying that hotmail put them their but i definately didn't, why would I block myself? Either way, removed them from the blocked listand put them on my safe list and all is well

Kurt
February 26, 2010 5:53 AM

I have been sending e-mails from work to my HOTMAIL account for several years, and since yesterday NO ONE from my office can send any mail to ANY HOTMAIL account. To me this indicates that Microsoft changed something.

NA
February 26, 2010 3:41 PM

Thank you 'Me' - I had the same problem in that was not receiving emails to my MSN live account (which I was having forwarded to my hotmail account). Read this link and realised that my MSN live account was on the blocked senders list! (I did not put it there).

Now I urgently need to know what msgs have been automatically deleted and how I can retrieve them, as they may be very important :-/ Please someone Help....

Michelle
March 18, 2010 7:53 AM

I have notice I have not been getting my e-mails
and Yes, It is very frustrating.

Because, I have business account and my college e-mail I us for school

I went to blocked list and everything else to try to fix it. Plus, tried to contact Hotmail Help and can not get in to send them a message

Just how long will it will take to fix this problem

Hotmail is the WRONG service to be using for a business. Why is using Hotmail for my business such a bad idea?
Leo
19-Mar-2010

Chris
March 18, 2010 8:46 AM

I am done with Hotmail, Live, MSN and Microsoft in General. I have my hotmail account for 10 years and as of last week no one can send me emails. NOBODY! I bought your computers, your software, your xbox and you cant even help with this problem! I am an apple fan now, down with Microsoft and there poor customer service!

Sheri
March 18, 2010 8:50 AM

As of this morning, I am not receiving any emails, called a couple of people and they received my email and responded - nothing in my box - i have tried to email a test to myself from another account, and still doesn't work. Not good....

Cheryl
March 18, 2010 8:52 AM

As of this morning, I am not receiving any emails sent to me from ANYONE (not even people in my Contacts). I checked my blocked lists and that is OK. There are just a few email addresses there but they are not email addresses for people that are sending me mail.

HELP!!! I have important information being emailed to me and I am not receiving anything!!

Shelly
March 18, 2010 8:53 AM

I'm not receiving emails to my account today. This AM early I had some, mostly from yesterday. I'm awaiting replies to some I sent out very early this AM and nothing....

Stephanie
March 18, 2010 9:11 AM

I just called customer service because I too am unable to email tech support, it times out. They are doing system maintenance and assured me that all the incoming emails I haven't been able to receive will be queued until they are done. I dont know how to ever know if I received all the emails that were sent to me during this outage, but it's frustrating. I thought it was weird that I hadn't received any emails in a 5 hour span.

Cathy
March 18, 2010 9:19 AM

Have not received an email from my hotmail account since 6:00 a.m. CDT this morning -- just over 5 hours now.

Can log into Hotmail and look at old messages. That's all. No sending, no receiving.

Cheryl
March 18, 2010 10:34 AM

Well get ready for a flood of duplicate emails! boy, did they really screw up this time. I am now getting emails.....TONS OF THEM....FROM MONTHS AGO! They are all emails that I have already received when they were originally sent. My in box is a nightmare now!!!!
Thank you very much MSN....NOT!

Leslie
March 23, 2010 4:43 AM

I have discovered that I have been missing so many emails!!! I'm suddenly not receiving emails from business associates, clients, friends, you name it! I need help with this issue. None of the people or companies that I'm missing mail from are on my blocked list. I sent myself an email from another account yesterday and I never received it. Tried again today and I haven't received that one either! This could be costing me business and money!
The MSN help pages are very difficult to navigate around and the Windows live support page keeps timing out. I've had hotmail for at least 8 years now and I've not been aware of anything of this magnitude happening before.

I've been getting a rash of reports in recent weeks of Hotmail users not getting email that was sent to them. Since it seems to be so pervasive, I expect Microsoft to eventually improve it, but my experience is that Hotmail tends to be one of the most unreliable services for erroneously blocking incoming email. As I've said many, many times before, you should never ever rely on any free email service as the only place you keep your important email for this reason and many others.
Leo
24-Mar-2010

Adam
April 29, 2010 12:56 PM

Please help me my email: [email address removed] isnt getting any emails and i get many per day, i have to confirm my world of warcraft account but cant, please help me! I tryed sending a email to my account useing a friends email and i dident get it please reply or admins check my account.

Kendra
May 22, 2010 9:08 AM

How do I cancel the filter I had to have my mails send to gmail. I canceled the filter and forward thing with gmail then I closed out my gmail account. Yet still I'm not getting my MSN mails... Please help.

Shahnawaz Hassan
July 15, 2010 1:15 AM

Please help me my email: [email address removed] isnt getting any emails and i get many per day, i have to confirm my world of warcraft account but cant, please help me

lorettechartrand
July 19, 2010 5:32 AM

i need to get my mail daily!

Raja Aqib
October 11, 2010 4:42 AM

Plz help me i can't get mail on this accounts. I am facing this problem since couple of weeks.

Please read this article which discusses your 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
11-Oct-2010

lorettechartrand
October 22, 2010 4:55 PM

Please give me back my live .com account !

I have no power to give it to you. I am not Hotmail. Please read this article which discusses your 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
24-Oct-2010

pallamalli maruthi
August 9, 2012 5:44 AM

actaul reason behind of that is u r email pop settings didnt match u r mail dns. that was the problem. due to this cause no need to delete u r hotmail account it will receives emails surely. u just do one thing -> go to the options ->choose mail options-> in that window choose manage your account->click the create an alias name -> create one alias name and lets check ...u will get emails surely....no doubt at all. for more information contact {url removed}

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