Sounds silly doesn’t it? But it isn’t. Many of us now have a number of email addresses: maybe one for work, one for home, one that will download nice and easily in our Outlook Express and a separate Webmail one so that we can use to stay in touch when travelling.
For much of the time, one of the easiest way of managing this may be to set up email forwarding where we can, so that all our email ends up in one place whether local PC or web based ‘Webmail’ account. Of course we can set up our hotmail account in Outlook Express but we can’t forward automatically from it in the same way one can from an email set up with an Easyspace domain. Many of the largest ISPs offering ‘Webmail’ do not offer the ability to forward the other way. So maybe we forward everything to ‘Webmail’. That should be fine, except that it can put a strain on ‘Webmail’, especially just before Christmas when everyone wants to send e-Christmas cards to everyone in their address books plus those good jokes, messages of joy and good luck, so long as you forward them to another 10 or 20 people – and that is ignoring all the spam. No wonder all the major big email providing ISPs are put under strain and forced to take action to protect themselves and their prime email account customers.
Let’s look at it from their side. First they have to protect the services they are providing directly ie their own email addresses, so they offer good spam deletion for the email address your have with them. But what about forwarded mail? It can be detected where a forwarded email has genuinely been forwarded whether from another of your email accounts or a friend’s, separately from those from spammers pretending to be friends. But it is more difficult for them to identify what is not wanted when it comes from your other genuine account where no spam has been weeded out first. MessageLabs reckon that the level of spam is about 88.7% and rose by 8.5% in October over September. Just suppose you have two other email accounts that you are forwarding to your hotmail account; that is increasing a load that is already increasing by another 3 times. If in addition one or both of them are catchall email accounts (accounts that will accept any and every email addressed to anything @yourdomain being forwarded, they will push up the volume they have to handle many times more.
So what can they do? Well every ISP, and maybe quite a lot of email users, will look at the source or sending server IP, identified by looking at the underlying headers of the email, of all the spam and simply tell their servers to block anything from those servers. That gets rid of a lot and will usually still allow the stuff we want to get through to get through. The next thing they can do is delay acceptance of forwarded mail. After all it is not their email address, even if it is their customer who has set up the forwarding to it. And anyway they are only delaying it. If that is not enough though and they need to prune out more, they may spot that an awful lot is coming from the mail servers of a large hosting company like Easyspace (for all their continuous efforts to prevent it by stopping customers spamming and negotiating with the blocking ISP) – and then block out those as well. Understandable?
The effect then is that if you are forwarding all your mail, and especially if you are forwarding a catchall email account, you could be forcing your main email address’s ISP to block the email that you are forwarding to it – plus all the email being sent, not forwarded, by other customers trying to send email to other addresses with the same ISP that holds your destination email address. In effect by having forwarded, you have blocked your own email, haven’t you? It could make you unpopular too. Even if the others affected do not know it is you, the engineers working round the clock to make sure the mail does go though will!
So what can you do? First do not put an automatic email forward in place, unless you really have to, and if you really do have to then only for a limited period. Second get rid of any catchall mailbox you have: they are honey pots for spam. Make certain you have a spam filter in place to get rid of the rubbish at the earliest possible stage. Try not to be superstitious and do not send on all those emails asking you to forward them on to another 10 to 20 names in your address book for good luck or to avoid bad luck etc. You never know, you may find that someone actually responds to an email you have sent once more, because he has decided that you can be taken off his personal blocked mail black list!