How to Recover from an Email Crash

Have you ever experienced an email outage? Whether your business lives and dies by electronic communication, or you’re retired but enjoy your connection to the outside world through email, experiencing an email crash is no picnic.

This was the case for me starting on January 30th. For three days, I could send out emails, but I couldn’t receive them. To make matters worse, the messages that weren’t reaching me were not bouncing back to the sender. They had no idea I hadn’t received their communication, and I had no idea of who might have possibly emailed me. And there was no place to go for me to look for the non-arriving emails. They were lost in the cyber netherworld.

While it was wonderful not to have spam roll in or receive sales pitches for services that don’t apply to my line of work, it was nerve-wracking knowing that I might be losing out on business or that my lack of response might lower someone’s opinion of my communication skills or etiquette.

If you ever find yourself in this situation, here are some triaging steps to plow through:

  1. Why is this happening?

Duh. This might seem like a no-brainer question, but in a panic, many people focus on getting emails out instead of first finding the source of the email hijinx. Has someone hacked the system? Is there a glitch in the server? Has something within the hosting company changed, which somehow affected how your email is routed? Is your email platform (Gmail or Outlook, for example) no longer speaking to the domain name of your email address (@HeleneSegura.com or @YourCompanyName.com)? Get on the phone with your tech person or hosting company. While you’re on hold, work on the next steps.

  • When was your last incoming email?

If you can pinpoint the date and time, this might help narrow down when a mysterious change took place and, therefore, determine the cause.

  • Turn on your auto-responder.

If you’re not receiving emails, this may not work, but it’s worth a shot. Turn on your out-of-office responder. But instead of saying you’re out of the office, briefly explain your situation and ask them to email you again in one week if they haven’t heard from you.

  • Determine who you need to inform about your technical difficulty.

You may not have ESP – which would allow you to magically know who had indeed emailed you – but you can ask yourself the following questions to determine who you need to contact.

Who were you expecting emails from?

Who have you been in conversation with in the last two to four weeks?

Are there any projects you’re working on and might be receiving information about?

Are you involved with anything that has an approaching deadline and might be receiving emails about that?

When you’re done triaging, you might need to contact a few folks. In next week’s post we’ll examine how to do that.

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