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Issue #613: April 21-27, 2019

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Q: I have an older computer (HP Pavilion Slimline) that I have had since 2009. It has Windows 7. The computer suits my wife and I just fine as we use it for emails, ordering on-line and general internet access. It also has Windows Live Mail 2011 version. I have noticed for a long time that I don’t receive emails from certain correspondents and friends. These friends and I have spoken on the phone and discussed this issue without any solution. My question is: can I upgrade my email to a more recent edition of Windows Live Mail that might overcome this problem? Or, is there another email version that is available that will solve my perceived problem?

– Rick G.
Crestview, Florida

A: I answered a similar question from reader Kelly S. last year (Geek Note: I.G.T.M. #590, November 11, 2018).  Kelly happened to be using Windows Live Mail too, although I’m doubtful that is relevant to the issue at hand.  I would encourage you to pay a visit to my website and give it a read before you continue.

As I indicated in Issue 590, there are a number of things that can interfere with the delivery of an e-mail.  Some of them are within your span of control, and some of them are not.  As previously discussed, some of these issues can result in e-mails that originate from one person on even an entire domain to be blocked, or, to use a more accurate term, blacklisted.  I would imagine that you probably would have recognized a pattern if all of the friends whose e-mails were failing to arrive were on the same domain.  Assuming that’s not the case, I’m going to cover some other things that you can check, since I highly doubt that simply switching-out your e-mail client as you asked, would have any effect.

1) SPAM folder. First of all, make sure your friends’ e-mails aren’t simply being marked as SPAM.  This is a more common occurrence than many people realize.

2) Virus-scanner.  Some virus scanners have modules that embed within the sending and receiving process of e-mail.  As such, the possibility exists that they could block individual senders, or even interpret certain legitimate e-mails as SPAM.

3) Blocked Senders List.  Windows Live Mail allows you to add senders to a list that automatically blocks all e-mail sent by a person.  It’s possible the people in question were added to this list, either accidentally, or on purpose.  To check, choose Actions>Junk E-mail>Safety Options…  Click the Blocked Senders tab to see a list of all senders whose e-mail is being automatically blocked.  To unblock any names here, highlight them and click “Remove”.

4) Rules.  Windows Live Mail supports the ability to define rules for how incoming mail is handled.  For example, you can set up a rule to automatically route all e-mail with the word “Refinance” in the subject line to the Trash folder, or you could set up an auto-responder to automatically reply to all or some e-mails.  Although it’s unlikely, it’s not unheard of for someone to set up a well-meaning rule that accidentally blocks desired e-mails.  To check, click on Tools>Message Rules>Mail.  If there are rules defined, click on them to view the description and criteria to make sure they do what you intend.

5) Non-Delivery Reports, or NDRs.  Also known as Bounced E-mail Notifications, these are usually delivered to an e-mail sender when their e-mail is rejected somewhere along the line. Since you say you’ve spoken to your friends about this problem, I can only assume that they would have informed you if they were receiving such notifications when they e-mail you.  However, it’s worth mentioning here for the benefit of any other readers who may be experiencing similar problems.

6) Webmail.  Finally, you can eliminate or confirm your local e-mail client as the source of the problem by looking directly at your e-mail server using webmail. The ISP of the e-mail address in your contact information provides access to webmail along with your Internet account.  For me at least, webmail has become my e-mail client of choice.  Embracing webmail has eliminated all worries about Microsoft withdrawing support for my chosen e-mail client.  I also can access my e-mail from virtually any computer with an Internet connection and a Web Browser, including smartphones and pad devices.  I get a smooth, consistent e-mail experience everywhere I go, with no mysterious blocked e-mails.

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