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 (Yahoogroups) that sent it - advising the problem, *Yahoogroups will "hold" the email for a short while - 15-30-60 minutes and try again later.
  • If the second or third time this happens, Yahoogroups will record your email as a "bounce" and no longer sends THAT particular email. (if the email is not returned back to the Yahoogroups system, it assumes the email as sucessfully sent).
  • If Yahoogroups has tried to send multiple emails to you, and they all get returned (after trying to re-send it..) Yahoogroups will set your account to "bounce" status, and no longer sends you ANY email from Yahoogroups.
  • At periodic times, Yahoogroups sends out a "probe" email to you - To see if your email account is still having problems. When you reply to the probe email, Yahoogroups will resume your email delivery to your account.

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. EG :- (over-exagerated examples) You need to cross a major bridge to get to/from work - You get to the bridge and see it is no longer there (Zapped by aliens in a U.F.O.) You washed the car yesterday, and this morning, you find that your child has decided to help and washed the inside of your cars engine (you need to call a mechanic in to fix it. - Car flooded in all the wrong places).

Hard bouncing is where there is a permanent / long term problem with your email provider.

It's the same process for soft bouncing - as above - except your email provider sends a different report/code back to Yahoogroups.

Yahoo "occasionally" sends out probes - to test if your account is fixed. However this is less frequently than with soft bouncing.

Usual cause of hard bounces:-

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