Running a web hosting service can be frustrating, especially where email service comes in. A web server with a bunch of shared virtual domains can mean hundreds of mail users passing email through the server throughout the day. On top of that, the server has to deal with 10s of thousands of spam messages per day. When I bother to look at the statistics about 80%-85% of the mail that hits the server is spam and the overall amount seems to grow weekly. Controlling spam takes a huge amount of resources from servers.

Some mail services have started taking extraordinary steps in an attempt to handle the spam issue. Apparently, one of them is Yahoo Mail. Unfortunately, for their users (anyone with one of those free accounts – I have one) their policies mean that email may be delivered only after long delays or sometimes, not at all.

It’s difficult to explain exactly what they are doing, and I only became aware it recently when a couple of my customers started complaining about lost or long delayed email going to through our mail server. I started looking at our mail queue and Bahoo!tracing what was happening to email addressed to people at

Time and again certain messages going to certain addresses were getting delayed error responses from  This has been going on for quite some time as I discovered at this forum thread. A casual Google search finds this is a widespread issue.

What’s really frustrating is that it seems totally capricious. Some messages get delivered immediately. Others get delayed. If I force a particular message that is stuck in our mail queue, it may get delivered, or it may get delayed. But sometimes if I do it a second time it will go through. What kind of a system is this? Repeated attempts to get through to Yahoo support have ended only in canned responses and no resolution.

If email continues to get delayed, eventually it will get deleted from server mail queues. So, unfortunately, mail users may not even know how much email they are missing.

As a result of this, I recommend no one rely on accounts for anything critical. Switch to gmail on hotmail or something else. Given this situation, not ISP or web host can guarantee delivery of email.