Common Email Problems

Problem: I keep receiving the same message

There are two likely reasons for this one. One is that someone is sending you the same message over and over (this isn’t very common). The other is that your mail client uses POP3 and has taken a dislike to one of the messages it is trying to fetch. What happens is something like this:

  • The mail client connects to the server and asks how many messages are awaiting collection
  • The mail client fetches message 1
  • The mail client fetches message 2
  • The mail client tries to fetch message 3, but finds something in the message that it wasn’t expecting, gets confused and disconnects from the server

What the mail client should have done is to fetch each of the messages then tell the server to delete them (they are on the client machine now, so there’s no need to keep them on the server any more). Since the deletion didn’t happen, then the mail client connects again a little while later…

  • The mail client connects to the server and asks how many messages are awaiting collection
  • Message 1 is still there, so the mail client fetches it again
  • Message 2 is still there, so the mail client fetches it again
  • Message 3 is still there, so the mail client tries to fetch it again, fails again and the whole process starts again

Solution

If you can remove the message that upsets your mail client everything will return to normal. To do this, you need to access your mailbox using a different mail client – if you have access to a webmail interface, that’s probably the simplest way.

Problem: I am receiving mail that isn’t addressed to me

This one typically crops up with junk email and mailing lists. As explained in The Format Of a Mail Message the details of who a message is sent to is provided in the message envelope, which is not normally seen. When a message is sent to multiple people, they are all listed in the envelope, but only a few are usually mentioned in the message itself.

Solution

There isn’t one, as this is just a misunderstanding, not an actual problem.

Previous   Next