How to Check Why an Email Was Delayed

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It is a common misconception that email delivery is instantly completed. Email is designed to be sent from Mail Server to Mail Server until it reaches the ultimate destination with no guarantee on how long it will reside at each intermediary stop. Most cases of delayed email are due to slow or overloaded mail servers. Email delivery delays are caused by spam, frequency of checking one's email, or other hardware issues. When an email is delayed for a significant amount of time, the best way to check why an email is delayed is to analyze the email header on the delivery delay notification to see where the delay is occurring. Read on to learn how to verify why an email is delayed.


Step 1

Open a Web browser.

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Step 2

Log in to Gmail.

Step 3

Open the target email to check the reason for its delayed receipt (or the location or mail server where it is being held).


Step 4

Select the "Show Original" option on the email.


Step 5

View the "Email Header."

Step 6

An example of a Delayed email header

Review the "Received By" email server to determine the location/I.P. address causing the email delay.



Step 7

Contact your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and provide the I.P. address of the mail server and inquire on the status of your ISP. Ask if the address has been "blacklisted" from sending email. With ongoing efforts to minimize spam email, legitimate emails are prevented or delayed from being forwarded to the desired recipient as part of a precaution.


Step 8

Test the server. If your ISP cannot provide a satisfactory answer to your inquiry, or you are not patient enough to wait on a response, use an alternate email account (ie yahoo, your work email, msn, etc) to resend the desired email. This will allow you to determine if your ISP has been inadvertently "blacklisted."


Step 9

Report the problem. If the email used in step 2 is returned, the recipient is most likely having problems with his email. Use an alternate form of communication to inform the person of the potential issue.

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