Emails and Bouncing - What is it

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Simply put, 'bouncing' is the internet term for a traffic jam.

Simple explanation:

  • On a normal day, you leave home, and get on a bus, or get in your car to go to work.
  • You get to work, and travel home the same - No traffic problems.
  • This is how email is supposed to work.. - You send an email & it gets to its destination. They send a reply, and it gets to you.


  • This is where, there is a traffic jam slows things down - and your trip to/from work takes longer. However traffic is still flowing (some people may give up... & wait, to travel later).
  • Soft bouncing is where there is a temporary / short term problem with your email provider.
  • When there is a "temporary" problem with your email service, the email gets sent back to the person that sent it - advising the problem.
  • If the second or third time this happens, your email is recorded as a "bounce" and no longer sends THAT particular email.

Usual causes of soft bounces:-

  • Mailbox full - (You have not read your email in a while & no more emails can be received.)
  • Overloaded Server - (This is where a LOT of emails come into a particular domain name, and the server cannot cope)
  • Some causes of this are a lot of "spam" / "viruses" going around the web - Using up precious processing time for the servers.


This is where there is a complete halt to traffic.Hard bouncing is where there is a permanent / long term problem with your email provider.

Usual cause of hard bounces:-

  • Your mail provider sends the wrong code - tells them you no longer have an email account.

For more information on how this affects your email delivery from Freecycle, please click here.