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A little more detail on email headers and associated error messages.

Email headers and associated problems

Most other email systems will send you a message which will look something like this example from Pine, though some (including Outlook) will normally hide the information:

From Mailer-Daemon@ccs.bbk.ac.uk Mon Oct 11 16:52:26 1999
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 1999 16:00:24 +0100
From: Mail Delivery Subsystem <Mailer-Daemon@ccs.bbk.ac.uk>
To: vivien <v.hall@ccs.bbk.ac.uk>
Subject: Returned mail: User unknown

The original message was received at Mon, 11 Oct 1999 16:00:17 +0100
from vivien@localhost

----- The following addresses had delivery problems -----
<h.crun@bbk.ac.uk> (unrecoverable error)

----- Transcript of session follows -----
... while talking to mail1.ccs.bbk.ac.uk.:
>>> RCPT To:<h.crun@bbk.ac.uk>
<<< 550 Unknown local user 'h.crun'
550 <h.crun@bbk.ac.uk>... User unknown

----- Original message follows -----

In this case you should check the person's email address is correct, first by checking the on-line directory, and then by asking the recipient or ITS.

Messages from systems beyond Birkbeck

If the address to which you are sending is not in the College, it may be a little while before a message similar to those that follow appear. The delay is because these error messages are sent from the remote system dealing with the message, or from Birkbeck systems reporting problems contacting the remote system.

The error messages are very similar in format, and the interesting part is the ten or so lines after the header. In the examples below, the key phrase is in bold. It is often possible to see what the problem is from the subject line if it is an obvious mistake.

A message from postmaster@ccs.bbk.ac.uk usually indicates a problem with a message reported by the systems at Birkbeck. In the following example, the user has the address back to front, and instead of f.bloggs@cems.bbk.ac.uk the user entered cems.bbk.ac.uk@f.bloggs - f.bloggs is treated as the site name and of course is invalid.

 

Subject: Delivery Report (failure) for cems.bbk.ac.uk@f.bloggs
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 16:25:56 +0000
From: postmaster@ccs.bbk.ac.uk
To: d.willcox@ccs.bbk.ac.uk
;
------------------------------ Start of body part 1
This report relates to your message: Subject: Test message,
Message-ID: Pine.SOL.3.95.990115161215.15949D-100000@acer.ccs.bbk.ac.uk
To: F.bloggs@bbk.ac.uk of Fri, 15 Jan 1999 16:25:29 +0000
Your message was not delivered to cems.bbk.ac.uk@f.bloggs
for the following reason:
Unknown Address
Nameserver error for f.bloggs: Non existant host/domain
(NXDOMAIN)
***** The following information is directed towards the local administrator
***** and is not intended for the end user

The following is a forwarded message from another site, but reporting the same problem - in this case the person sending the message has entered "bbc" instead of "bbk"

From postmaster@westminster.ac.uk Mon Jan 25 07:47:03 1999
Delivery-Date: Mon, 25 Jan 1999 07:47:02 +0000
X400-Received: by /PRMD=UK.AC/ADMD= /C=GB/; Relayed;
Mon, 25 Jan 1999 07:46:51 +0000
X400-Received: by mta ssss.wmin.ac.uk in /PRMD=UK.AC/ADMD= /C=GB/; Relayed;
Mon, 25 Jan 1999 07:46:51 +0000
X400-MTS-Identifier: [/PRMD=UK.AC/ADMD= /C=GB/;ssss.wmin.ac:146090:99012507465
1]
From: postmaster@westminster.ac.uk
To: x.xxxxx@westminster.ac.uk
Subject: Delivery Report (failure) for f.fffff@philosophy.bbc.ac.uk
Message-Type: Delivery Report
Date: Mon, 25 Jan 1999 07:46:57 +0000
Message-ID: <"ssss.wmin.ac:146090:990125074651"@wmin.ac.uk
Content-Identifier: your question
Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary="---Multi-Part-Message-Level-1-1-14619
"
MIME-Version: 1.0
-----Multi-Part-Message-Level-1-1-14619
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

This report relates to your message: Subject: your question,
Message-ID: <199901250748.HAA09160@ssss.wmin.ac.uk ,
To: f.fffff@philosophy.bbc.ac.uk
Your message was not delivered to f.fffff@philosophy.bbc.ac.uk
for the following reason:
Unknown Address
Nameserver error for philosophy.bbc.ac.uk: Non existent
host/domain (NXDOMAIN)

***** The following information is directed towards the local administrator***** and is not intended for the end user

If the site is ok, but the user's email name is not, then a message from the remote system is sent, similar to that shown below:

Subject: Delivery Report (failure) for DDD.DDD@ccs.bbk.ac.uk
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 1999 13:05:21 +0000
From: postmaster@ccs.bbk.ac.uk
To: d.willcox@ccs.bbk.ac.uk
;
------------------------------ Start of body part 1
This report relates to your message: Subject: This is a test,
To: DDD.DDD@ccs.bbk.ac.uk
of Mon, 25 Oct 1999 13:05:14 +0000
Your message was not delivered to DDD.DDD@ccs.bbk.ac.uk
for the following reason:
Unknown Address
Unknown local user 'DDD.DDD'

***** The following information is directed towards the local administrator
***** and is not intended for the end user

In these cases you should check the email address used. If you have not made a typing mistake, you should confirm that the address is correct with the person concerned, perhaps by using other means to contact them.

Address correct, but still fails to deliver

It is not possible to send FROM outside the College, TO outside the College via College systems. This is called relaying, a technique often used by spammers, and the following message is displayed:

Your message was not delivered to dddddd@gold.ac.uk
for the following reason:
Incompatibility between two sites on the route of the message
(please contact local administrator)
Authorisation failure at site 'ccs.bbk.ac.uk' for recipient
'dddddd@gold.ac.uk'
Reason: 'You are not authorised for this
route :
(policy block, imta (unset unset) sender (unset unset)
omta (unset unset) recip (unset unset))'

The same message would appear if your PC is not dns-registered.

In this case, you should probably change the "smtp" server, through which the message is being sent. Often, if you are connecting to the network via an ISP, they will have smtp servers which may be used.

Recipient mailbox problems

If there is a problem with the mailbox of the person you are trying to send to, a message similar to that given below may appear - in this case from a system in Chile, which is reporting that there is no space left to extend the mail file (ie write the mail message to the recipient's mailbox).

Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 05:20:56 -0400 (CST)
From: Mail Delivery Subsystem <MAILER-DAEMON@cec.uchile.cl br>
To: "c.flint" <c.flint@bbk.ac.uk >
MIME-Version: 1.0
Subject: Returned mail: Can't create output
Auto-Submitted: auto-generated (failure)
Status: O

The original message was received at Mon, 20 Sep 1999 05:20:48 -0400 (CST)
from mail2.ccs.bbk.ac.uk [193.61.22.7]

----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----
<aaaaaa@cec.uchile.cl

----- Transcript of session follows -----
procmail: No space left to finish writing "/usr/spool/mail/aaaaaa"
550 <aaaaaa@cec.uchile.cl ... Can't create outputbr>

If the message is sent to a system which is dns registered, but not available, the message waits in the mail hub which makes repeated attempts to connect to the remote system. If no response is received within a week a message similar to the following appears

This report relates to your message: Subject: Closed_Class_Form,
Message-ID: <199910071607.RAA12814@ccs65.ccs.bbk.ac.uk ,
To: vvv@bbk.ac.uk
of Thu, 7 Oct 1999 17:12:33 +0100
Your message was not delivered to vvv@bbk.ac.uk
for the following reason:
Message timed out

***** The following information is directed towards the local administrator
***** and is not intended for the end user
of administration information