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IF01973  

Q.  I was wondering why there is a delay in receiving my e mail. Example: Checked my mail at 7:30 and an e mail message was just received but the sender sent it at 5:30. What could be the cause of this?

A.  Email is similar to real "snail" mail when it comes to delivery.  The email message is passed from the sender to a local post office (their mail server), then to your post office (your mail server), and then picked up by you (downloaded to your PC).  To make this trip the email is routed over the internet which can involve dozens of temporary stops along the way, each of which can introduce a slight delay in processing before passing your message on to the next stop.  Normally there aren't any significant delays and the email arrives within seconds or at worst a few minutes of when it was originally sent.  If either of the mail servers are busy, overloaded, or experiencing technical difficulties then some or all of your email could be delayed or even permanently lost.  This is why it is important to have a good quality ISP with a reliable email service.

If it continues to be a problem then check to see if it is just from a particular sender.  If so then the problem is most likely on their end so they should check with their ISP.  If all of your email is delayed then you can check with your ISP for email support and they can look at the email server logs to confirm what is happening.

Also, in rare cases, it is possible that the sender is creating the message with a bogus time/date stamp, or that one of the email servers is stamping the time/date improperly.  This can be done in a number of ways but there isn't much you can do about it.  Basically email is a convenient communication method but it is not perfect, secure, or extremely reliable so don't expect too much and you won't be disappointed.

 

            
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