Delayed Gratification

Email on monitor with "Web traffic" sign

In this post, we’re talking about delayed grati… no, actually, we’re talking about delayed emails. And just for the fun of it, I’m going to throw in another subject – lost emails.

If you read my previous post, But First, you are aware that there are many hardware components to the Internet. When those pieces of equipment are connected together, just about any little glitch will interrupt the flow of information. A relay sticking for a micro-second might be enough to delay the delivery of an email or for the missive to be lost forever. A server malfunction where the server goes offline, even for just a few seconds, could cause havoc.

Besides the hardware issues, though, there are two other main reasons an email might be delayed or even lost. They are:

  • Too much traffic – According to a 2017 report by Radicati Group, a staggering 269 billion emails are sent every day. At times, some popular email servers may simply be overwhelmed with email and some emails could be lost or delayed.
  • Too many emails coming into a mail sever from the same IP address – If you were to send a large number of emails to different email addresses at the same domain, your emails might be delayed as a means of controlling the flow on a particular server. Example: you send an email to multiple people who all are at the same domain, say Comcast (Xfinity) might delay your emails as a means of corralling email traffic.

As for losing emails completely, there are a few other reasons beyond hardware issues, which might cause that to happen:

  • An email address is misspelled. When this happens, an email could go to the wrong person and you wouldn’t know it, or it might just be discarded because the email address doesn’t exist. (In theory, you should get a notice when this happens but in reality, you don’t always get a notice.)
  • The email is filtered out by a spam filter on the email server of the recipient.
  • A hacker intercepts a sent email. This often happens when a hacker breaks into an email account and sends out a fake email to everyone in the account’s address book. The hacker will intercept the replies (and other Inbox email) to continue the scam.
  • Your email may actually have been delivered but it’s lost in a “pile” of email in the recipient’s Inbox. For instance, at 4KCC, I receive about 400 business emails a day. (This doesn’t include my personal emails which often number in the 100-200 range, per day.) It’s possible that your email got missed by me when it was arriving and now it’s buried under a plethora of other emails.

If you send an email and don’t get a reply in a reasonable amount of time, it might be a good idea to resend. (That’s especially true when you are emailing me!)