Understanding Email Delays and Attachments

by | Jun 10, 2024 | Email, Technical Help

Email Reliability

drawing depicting email issue frustrationsAt CharlesWorks, I often tell people that if they knew what I know about email and the number of computers it must traverse perfectly to get from one point to another, they’d wonder how it works at all. That said, however, email is actually very reliable.

I was recently caught by our new phones here and their 12 megabyte pictures! The pictures are great but they take a lot more space in those emails! When it appeared a friend ran into the same issues, her situation inspired me to write this article.

Independent Email and Web Servers

At CharlesWorks, our email servers are not connected to our web servers. This separation provides a huge advantage. It ensures that web traffic does not interfere with email traffic, leading to more consistent email performance. This setup reduces the risk of downtime affecting both services simultaneously and enhances security. It enhances security by allowing your email total separation from your webspace.

Common Email Issues

Most of the time, email works as expected. But when it doesn’t, it can be very frustrating. I am a firm believer that understanding why these issues occur can help reduce frustration.

Delayed Email Reception

Emails arriving late or all at once usually stem from connectivity issues. Connectivity issues arise when your device (usually your phone in this case) might temporarily lose its connection to the server. When it reconnects, it downloads (or uploads if it couldn’t previously) all pending emails, leading to a sudden influx. This can happen if you switch between Wi-Fi and cellular data or move through areas with varying signal strength.

So in the end, you may notice a bunch of emails come in all at once on a laptop or desktop machine at home as delayed. In fact, they most likely weren’t sent out until the phone became reconnected with a better connection.

Large Attachments

Sending photos or any large files can be tricky, especially from mobile devices. Picture file sizes have increased dramatically, and most mail servers limit emails to around 30 megabytes. This limit includes the email text and attachments. When sending large photos, they are often encoded in a way that can double their size. For example, a 15-megabyte photo can become a 30-megabyte email.

Some folks have mentioned to me that they didn’t have this issue before. Most likely it has occurred because each time we upgrade our cell phones, the one thing that gets better (at least it has for me) is the quality of the photos I can take with it. This is resulting in huge emails now whenever I email photos to anyone. On my phone, I can now only send one photo in an email. That has nothing to do with the email system – it’s just the additional resolution of the pictures I can take with my phone.

Asynchronous Server Speeds

Asynchronous server speeds mean that upload and download speeds are different. To add insult to injury, home internet connections often have much slower upload speeds compared to download speeds. Uploading out of your phone at home usually happens at 5-10% the speed of downloading. So sending large photos out takes way longer than receiving them. This can cause unexpected delays when sending large attachments, as it takes longer for the email to leave your device. Then this is exasperated by picking up your phone and moving it somewhere else not realizing it could still be sending a large message.

If you are on the go and have sent off an email with a large attachment from a phone that is not in or passing through a bad reception area, there’s really no telling how long it may take to complete that process. It may even fail and resend the email trying to get it through the sending process.

Fortunately, most of the devices just chug along until the email is finally sent. But some may not even send them and just indicate on the phone the message was not sent. The email would have to be resent when the phone is in a good connection area at that point.

Mobile Connectivity

Where you are and the strength of your mobile signal can significantly affect email performance. In areas with weak signal strength, emails definitely may take longer to send or receive. If you’re moving between locations with different signal strengths, your connection might drop and reconnect, causing even more delays.

Solutions

Here are some ways to mitigate these issues:

  • Reduce the Number of Pictures: If you need to send multiple photos, try reducing the number of pictures per email. This keeps the email size within server limits and makes it easier to send and receive.
  • Use Lower Resolution: Sending lower-resolution photos can reduce file size. Many email apps and phones offer options to resize images before sending.
  • Stable Connection: Ensure a stable internet connection when sending large attachments. Using Wi-Fi with a strong signal can help, especially compared to relying on cellular data.

Conclusion

By understanding how email works and the factors that affect its performance, you can take steps to reduce frustrations. At CharlesWorks, we strive to ensure reliable email service by keeping our email and web servers separate and providing support to help you troubleshoot and resolve issues.

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