What causes the email delay?

How is the mail transmitted?

You are aware that a mail sent to a user is received by the user in just few seconds or lets consider minutes. But if a mail reaches you after hours it is sent, you will start wondering the reason behind it. You will immediately start blaming your ISP or your mail service provider for the late delivery or receipt of the mail. But are they the real culprit not always. When a mail travels from a source to its destination it moves through various servers in between which further facilitate the movement of the mail to the destination. It is like when you travel by a plane you sometimes need to take a connecting flight, though the time taken for your travel could be a 20 hours but if by any means your connecting flight takes time your traveling time increases. Same is the case of email travel from its source to destination.

Technical Information :

The mail transmitted carries some technical information along with it like your passport carries your information while your travel. The information can be retrieved in different ways from different platforms.

Lets check them one by one :

1) Microsoft Outlook

– Click open the message.
– On the Message tab, in the Options group, click the arrow.
– The headers appear in the Internet headers box.

2) Gmail

– Log in to Gmail
– Open the message you’d like to view headers for.
– Click the down arrow next to Reply, at the top of the message pane.
– Select Show Original.

3) Squirrel Mail

– Open the email
– In options click “View Full Header”

4) Roundcube

– Log in to open your mail
– You will find a drop down arrow at extreme right of the date within the email on clicking it you will see the raw headers.

5) Horde

– Login to open your mail
– In the top menu you will find a drop down header menu, when you click it you will see show common headers which will reveal the header.

For access to headers of more webmail providers and email clients refer


Finding the reason :

After getting to the headers of the mail the task further is much easier with the help of google’s email analyzer


Copy and paste the raw headers in the box and voila you get the full report of the mail from the point it was transmitted till it reached your mailbox. The delay should be in the route in between. This tool facilitates the analysis than looking through the raw headers.

this google apps toolbox can be used as email header analyzer for diagonising delay in reaching recipient mailbox


The above mail reaches with a delay of 8 minutes in this case above but in practicality we have come across some emails which came up hours after transmitted. The mail in the above case goes through only two servers but there are cases where mail passes from 4 to 5 servers.

The Google’s email header analyzer tool has been very useful in tackling the delay in email.

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