Missing email


Many millions of email messages go missing every day and in many cases the sender is unaware that the email has not reached its destination. The person receiving the message has absolutely no idea that the message has been sent to them unless by some chance they happen to have had some other communication with the person sending it.


In many cases the missing emails can be tracked down to spam/junk filtering, and in some cases this filtering is done by your email provider without your knowledge. It’s a very good idea to login to the web-based version of your email account (if your account has one) and check the spam/junk folder once in a while. Many of you will be very surprised to find messages from friends and family and other sources that you wanted to receive but which your email company has blocked.


Depending on the email company you are using it may be possible in the settings or preferences to disable this filtering and have it send you all messages, this is my preferred method as you can then install spam/junk filtering software on your own computer. It’s much easier for you to manage your own spam/junk filters and folders than to keep having to login to a web-based system.

For those already using a web-based system such as Gmail directly from the website or Hotmail directly from the website, in this case you do not need spam/junk filtering software on your computer and can quite happily use the email providers own filtering system as you can see your online spam/junk folder all the time.


Another way to help ensure emails reach you is to add the email addresses of your friends or regular senders to your address book, in many cases people find that a friend or family member cannot send email messages and this is usually because the email address is not listed in the address book (sometimes called contacts). You may also have to login to your email provider’s web-based system and add the email addresses there as well, this is especially the case with as they regularly block and addresses.


Never assume that email is instantaneous, while in 99.9% of cases an email message does arrive within a few seconds of being sent it can take up to 72 hours for an email message to pass through the servers and reach its destination.


The email systems that we are currently using is many decades old and is really starting to show its age, it was never designed for the uses we are now making of it. More modern systems usually called instant messaging handle messages in a very different and much more up-to-date way and over the next few years is quite likely that we will see email systems and instant message systems merge together to embrace all the new technology. An example of just how old email is, when you send a photograph by email the photograph is re-rendered by the email system into an extremely large text file (mime format) this text file is then sent to the recipient, where their email system re-renders the image from text back into a photograph. This method is very inefficient,very slow and results in extremely large emails travelling backwards and forwards.


Don’t forget many email systems have a maximum size of email message that can be sent and in most cases 10 MB is the limit, anything larger will simply be rejected. This means if you’re sending two or three photographs by email you may have to send them one at a time, the average photo from a digital camera is around 4/6 MB, this is then doubled through the sending process to 8 MB which is very close to the limit of 10 MB.


Always remember to include a subject with your email this gives the spam/junk filtering at the other end a fighting chance to work out whether your message is spam or not, many corporate email systems will routinely block all messages that do not include a subject.


NEVER forward a group message. i.e. A message that has been sent to lots of people – Unless you take out ALL the other names. It’s very bad form to pass on other peoples email addresses without their permission and in some case you might also be breaking EU data protection regulations. This could lead to you having your email account shut down and maybe even a fine.

If you are sending a group email to lots of people then make sure you use BCC instead of To. This hides the email address from the people you are sending to and keeps you within the law. If you are sending business group emails then you should also include information on how the person can opt out of receiving a more emails from you.


Governments are tightening up data protection legislation and more rigorously applying the law in an effort to stop spam and cut down on fraud.


Lastly make sure your email has a secure password, this is especially important if you use a web based email system like Gmail, Hotmail,, Yahoo etc. Your password should be at least 8 charters long (longer is better), contain numbers and letters and a symbol and if possible not be a recognisable word. Colours, sports teams, children’s names, pets name are not good enough and easily guessed by a hacker. Many people have had their accounts hacked and in many cases they have lost the account forever – be warned a strong password is the best protection.


Many web based email systems are asking users for verification, this usually entails a code being sent to a mobile phone or alternative email address, if you see the verification system do not ignore it and make sure you use your own details when you fill it in. You might not need it now but when it asks you again in 18 month’s time you will need to be able to access the phone or email you provided.