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Why do I receive mail from MAILER - DAEMON?

The MAILER-DAMEON is a computer program responsible for managing email. Your email program communicates with the MAILER-DAEMON to send email out across the Internet. If everything goes well, you will never receive messages from MAILER-DAEMON. But when things go wrong, MAILER-DAEMON politely sends you a message alerting you to the errors. In this document we describe some of the possible error messages you may receive, what they mean, and how to deal with them.

There are three cases when the MAILER-DAEMON will send mail back to you alterting you to errors:

  1. The user you tried to send mail to doesn't exist on the server you were sending the mail to, or
  2. The server part of the email address (everything following the "@" symbol) doesn't exist, or
  3. The server you are trying to send mail to is not respsonding

You can determine which of these three is the cause of the problem by examining the mail you received from the MAILER-DAEMON. The cause can usually be spotted in the first 25 lines of the message. Below are some actual error messages generated from the MAILER-DAEMON. They are put in the same order as the list above:

              ----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----
              ----- Transcript of session follows -----
          550 fakeuser@info-link.net... User unknown

    Should you receive mail like this from MAILER-DAEMON, you know two things: first, the email server you are sending the mail to exists (if it didn't you would have received the second message); second, the user does not exist on the system.

    To correct this error, check the email address you wish to send to. Make sure that you type in the username (everything before the "@" symbol) exactly as it appears, including capitalization. If this doesn't work and you get this same message again, you may have been given an incorrect address.

        ----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----
        ----- Transcript of session follows -----
        550 jdoe@infinite-link.net... Host unknown (Name server: 
        infinite-link.net: host not found)

    This error message tells you less than the first message. First, the error message says that the mail server address (everything after the "@" symbol) could not be found, which implies that it doesn't exist. Second, you do not know whether the user you are trying to send the mail to exists. The possibility is still open for receiving an error message similar to the first (user unknown) even if you resolve this error (host unknown).

    This error is fixed much in the same way as the first. Check the address you wish to send mail to very carefully. Make sure that whatever is capitalized (or not) in the address is capitalized (or not) in what you type in. They must match exactly.

    If you receive this message again, you may have been given an invalid email address.

          ...insert warning message here...

    This is not an error message, but only a warning. Your message may still go through. Fortunately, if you receive this message, you know at least one thing: you probably have typed in the server name correctly. Unfortunately, you do not know if you typed in the user name correctly. The error message is warning you that our mail server could not talk to the recipient's mail server for a certain period of time (X hours). This does not mean that your message will never go through. The recipient's mail server just might be down (someone could have turned the power off) or someplace on the network between here and the other server there is something down.

    As the message indicates, our mail server will keep trying to send the mail to the other server until the message is X days old. If you never hear back from the MAILER-DAEMON, then everything was successful and your message went through. If you receive a message after X days from the MAILER-DAEMON, then our server could not communicate with the other server during those X days. To resolve this error you usually just wait a few days and try sending the message again.

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