Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Why Aren’t My Friends Getting My Email?


Hi, Leo. I have two friends in Europe who do not receive my emails nor can I get theirs. Neither one of us has the other marked as spam so what’s going on?

To be honest, it’s almost impossible to say. I will throw out a few ideas based on how the email system might be working, but I really don’t know of a direct or specific way to fix this.

I do however have one workaround for you to at least try.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

Blocking your service

It’s more than likely the email services used by your friends in Europe have blocked or blacklisted your email service or some portion of it. Not your specific email address, I would expect, but a specific email server associated with your email provider.

That happens for a variety of reasons, the most common being that one of your email providers is sending out too much spam. Again, this has nothing to do with you; it’s just that the server or service, as a whole, has at some point been responsible for too much spam.

The problem with this technique, of course, is that it’s error prone. Specifically, false positives like yours happen and legitimate email gets blocked when it shouldn’t. Since in your case it’s bi-directional, either your email service has similarly blacklisted that of your friends, or there’s a middle man that’s part of how email is routed between the two of you, that has been blacklisted by both.

In either case, it’s just not something that I know that you can fix. You can each complain to your email provider, and perhaps they’ll research it, but in all likelihood not a lot’s going to change. Unfortunately, it’s notoriously difficult to get off of blacklists, in part because there are so darned many.

No SPAM!Bypass the block

Here’s what I recommend you do: Open up a free email account at a different provider – Gmail comes to mind. Test your ability to send to and receive email from your friends. If it works, use that email. You can have it forward incoming mail to your usual email account if you like (though you’ll probably need to actually go into and use the second email account whenever you want to send something).

Or, if you’re using a desktop email program it’s even simpler. You just configure an additional account with this other provider, and use it when exchanging email with your friends in Europe.

I could be wrong about the blacklisting. But regardless of what’s happening, it appears to be happening with your respective email providers. As a result, I’m not particularly hopeful that there’s an easy way to get it resolved. Thus, my recommendation is that you try an alternate method. At least that is something that is in your control.

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

2 comments on “Why Aren’t My Friends Getting My Email?”

  1. Not to be silly, but I think it’s a strange story.
    One way, OK. But two ways?
    Try to send a mail from another location and see what happens.


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.