When I send emails to a friend he says he always gets two emails of the same
message. As he is on dial-up this can be very time consuming. Is the problem at
my end when I send, or his end when he receives?
If it’s only your email that causes this problem, it would seem to
be your issue. However if you’re not seeing any errors on your end when you
send, it’s going to be very difficult to diagnose.
However if it’s not just your messages that are getting duplicated, then the
issue would appear to be on the recipients end. The good news here is that
there is an occasional configuration issue that can cause this behavior.
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You haven’t indicated which mail program you and your recipient are using.
That makes a big difference. If you’re using some kind of web mail
interface, such as Hotmail, GMail, or even a web mail interface provided by
your ISP, it’s extremely unlikely that the issue is on your end.
If you’re using a traditional email program, like Outlook, Eudora,
Thunderbird or the like, this problem can sometimes happen if there’s an issue
uploading your message to your mail server. The mail program will attempt to
send it by uploading the entire message, and then wait for confirmation from
the server that it was received and sent ok. Sometimes the server will take too
long, or that confirmation will be lost or garbled. Your mail program then
assumes that the mail was not sent properly, even though it might have been,
and dutifully attempts to send it again. If both attempts actually work, then
two copies of the mail result.
The most common cause is a message that is excessively large.
Now, I’m skeptical that this is your issue, because you make no mention of
there being any error message. Most email programs will display an error
message in the situation I just described. If your email program supports any
kind of logging, you might enable that and see if it sheds any light on what
your program might be doing.
It’s more commonly a problem at the recipients end – particularly if they’re
using a traditional email program on a dialup connection. If they’re using a
Web based email program, then it’s very unlikely the problem is on
When a traditional email program receives mail it requests each message
individually from the mail server and upon completion of the message tells the
mail server, in effect, “OK, I got this one, move on to the next”. If for some
reason that response is somehow lost or not received soon enough by the mail
server it assumes that the message was not received properly and needs to be
Once again the most common cause is a message that’s excessively large.
Now there is one configuration scenario that, while not common, can easily
also cause two copies of messages to be downloaded. I’ve had it happen
If the recipient has one email account, but more than one email
address that delivers to that account, it’s easy to configure some
mail programs to mistakenly attempt download mail twice.
This can quickly get confusing because technically an email account
is not the same as an email address. An email account is
what’s used to establish the connection to your mail server and authorize you
to download mail. It also identifies which collection of email is yours. An
email address is simply how people direct email into your account.
Let’s say I have an email account “leo” at a domain “example.com”. I’d
configure my mail program appropriately, and email sent to “firstname.lastname@example.org”
works pretty much as you’d expect.
Now let’s say I have an additional email address “email@example.com” which I
use for all my email mailing list subscriptions. The ‘trick’ here is that this
email address just automatically forwards to “firstname.lastname@example.org”. So while I’ll
receive all email sent to “email@example.com”, I do so because it all gets
forwarded to “firstname.lastname@example.org”. I don’t need to make any modifications to my
email client. So far so good.
If I ever want to send email from “email@example.com”, we
run into a problem.
So far my mail client only knows about the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org”,
and when I send or reply to any email, that’s the email address it uses. In
most email programs, if I want to send from an additional email
address that’s delivered to the same email account, I need to
configure an additional “fake” account. That fake account uses all the same
account information as my primary real account, “email@example.com”, but with a
different email address, “firstname.lastname@example.org”. When I use that
fake account to send mail, the From: address will be
The default, of course, is for that second account to download all email.
But it’s configured with the same account information as the first, so
it tries to download the same email. Some mail programs allow this to happen in
such a way that all the email could actually be downloaded twice. My experience
was with Microsoft Outlook, for example.
The solution to this confusing situation is to change the configuration of
your email program to not download email for that second, fake,
account. Exactly how depends on the email program, of course. You’ll still get
mail sent to that address, because it’s all being forwarded to your primary
account. You only need that second account to send email when you need the
“From:” field to be set to that second email address.
Given how confusing it is, it’s no wonder that it’s so easy to have errors
like this crop up.