How fast does e-mail arrive?

Sometimes messages can arrive in seconds, but sometimes they can take hours or even days to arrive.

When you write a note and click the Send button, you send your message to your ISP's mail server. It tries to determine the destination mail server and send the message there directly. If it cannot, it hands the message off to another mail server which can. Sometimes the destination server is not connected to the Internet 100% of the time, which may result in additional delays. This is similar to a busy signal, and the sending server must try again later. Also consider what happens if one of these mail servers has a large volume of mail to process. Your message must wait its turn in line. Larger ISPs such as Earthlink and AOL frequently have this problem due to their huge subscriber base. If the recipient does not or cannot connect to the Internet to check his or her mail, delivery will be further delayed.

April 2000

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