Langa Letter: E-Mail--Hideously Unreliable - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
Software // Enterprise Applications
Commentary
1/7/2004
10:17 PM
Fred Langa
Fred Langa
Commentary
50%
50%

Langa Letter: E-Mail--Hideously Unreliable

A recent test by InformationWeek columnist Fred Langa shows that up to 40% of valid E-mails never reach the recipient. Here's what it all means to you.

You're losing E-mails. It's almost certain that some significant percentage of your legitimate outbound E-mails aren't getting to their destinations; or that some significant percentage of your legitimate inbound E-mails are being lost before you ever see them.

When I say "significant," I don't mean a few. I mean something like 40%, or even more in some cases. And I'm not talking about losing junk mail. I'm talking about the loss of totally valid, non-spam/non-junk E-mail.

Think about that for a minute: As many as four out of 10 of your serious E-mails--the sort you might exchange with co-workers, friends, business associates, or customers--may not be making it to their intended destinations.

This alarming statistic is derived from a large test I conducted late last year, involving more than 10,000 participants. I announced the test with a call for volunteers in an issue of my E-mail newsletter last October. It said, in part:

...I'd like to gather a group of volunteers... and send each one a simple non-spam E-mail message, in plain text and with no attachments, from a personal mail account (not a bulk mailer). I'd like to see how many of these simple messages actually make it through the gauntlet of servers, routers, and ISP-based and local mail filters.

I won't tell the volunteers in advance what address the mail will come from or what the subject line will be.... Rather, I propose to simulate a normal, unanticipated, plain text, non-spam E-mail, as if between friends or coworkers, and see what gets through....

I included specific sign-up information, and asked interested readers to indicate their willingness to participate by sending a reply E-mail to a designated mailbox.

I'd hoped for maybe 500 volunteers. But less than a day after my request went out, I was astonished to see that more than 10,000 people had signed up. Clearly, E-mail reliability is a real hot button!

To keep the size of the test manageable, I then stopped accepting additional applications to participate, ending up with 10,979 volunteers on tap.

It's important to note that these test participants were eager, motivated, and E-mail savvy: They had learned of the test via E-mail, and had signed up by E-mail within hours of the call for volunteers going out. Thus, if anything, this body of E-mail-enthusiastic volunteers represents a best case for E-mail success, a fact that puts the dismal test results in an even starker light.

Previous
1 of 6
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Annual IT Salary Report 
Base pay for IT professionals has remained flat this year with a median annual salary of $88,000 for staff and $112,000 for management. However, 58% of staff and 62% of managers who responded to our survey say they're satisfied with their compensation. Download this report to find out which positions earn the highest compensation.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll