Are Hotmail cutting their own throat


Hotmail says I send Spam

Spam is a big problem for everyone. Postini estimate that spam now accounts for approximately 87% of all email on the Internet. There are several technologies that greatly reduce its penetration though, especially when used in combination. The exact technologies used by Hotmail are not clear, but if you’re having problems sending to Hotmail it might be worth having a look through their various FAQ’s, guidelines, anti-spam policies, and services aimed towards the sender. If you wade through all this and are confident your environment checks out but are still having no success sending to Hotmail, you can always contact their support staff, which is exactly what I did.

The response I got from Hotmail support was that their SmartScreen technology had identified email coming from my domain as being spam and had blocked my email server IP. Now, even if I was sending spam, somehow blacklisting the IP regardless of what other domains are sending email through that server does not seem especially “smart” to me. Hotmail support would not tell me why my domain was being flagged for spam, and when asked what the possible solutions were I was told I could sign up for 3rd party accreditation through Sender Score Certified (at a cost of $400USD start up, and $1000USD each year) who maintain the only whitelist service Hotmail use, and was also advised I could try tightening my SPF policy. Just to be especially vague the footer on the email also stated that there were no guarantees that any of the solutions offered would work. Great! So I could end up paying $1400USD to be accredited by a 3rd party whitelist just so I can send to Hotmail, and there is still no guarantee that if I get accreditation that my mail will get through.

I took the other option and tightened my SPF policy so that it explicitly stated what servers were able to send email on behalf of my domain using the “-all” option. I waited 72 hours as the hotmail support said it would take to update Hotmail’s various caches, but still I could not send emails to Hotmail. I then came across this article on openspf which pointed out that in fact the SenderID technology which Microsoft had championed (and Hotmail use) as another anti spam technology was in fact highly incompatible with SPF policies. Microsoft were apparently even made aware of this prior to the final release, but did not do anything to correct it despite there being hundreds of thousands of domains with active SPF policies in effect at the time. I updated my domain with a SenderID policy and waited another 72 hours but still the problem persisted. I contacted hotmail support again who informed me that if SmartScreen was flagging my email server IP due to a reputation issue (or lack of it) then it might take longer than 72 hours for the problem to rectify itself.


Anonymous's picture

Sign the Petition to remove SmartScreen technology

Remove SmartScreen technology from Hotmail & Windows Live Mail.

Sign the petition right here:

Anonymous's picture

Try to fight with hotmail support

I have had same issue with hotmail. After weeks of negotiations with the hotmail technical support, problem has been solved.
But, in any case, I do not recommend to "communicate" with them. Always inform users about possible disruptions in sending mail from your servers to hotmail accounts (through hotmail faults).

Anonymous's picture

So glad I found this article

I'm no sysadmin but I fill the shoes at our office and at home. I had come to the conclusion that it wasn't my relative lack of knowledge but actually hotmail blocking my messages. Now all is confirmed. Outlook & Outlook expr, both work to hotmail, but no-go with T-bird. I finally dumped that waste of money ISP Sympatico also. Went with Velcom and a static IP for $20 bucks less a month than Sympatico. Symp want (I think) around $90 cdn a month for a static IP!!!! Down with the big boys!

Anonymous's picture

Careful With Accusations

Sender Score Certified is an independent 3rd part that maintains the whitelist that is used by 100's of other ISP's. I would not be surprised if you start seeing the other big boys behaving like this as well.

Brashquido's picture

Sender Score Certified might

Sender Score Certified might be an independent 3rd party, but regardless of how it is put forward it still spells trouble for small/medium business with their own messaging infrastructure who cannot afford to pay upwards of $1000USD a year to maintain membership. I'd also be hesitant to use such as system as it bypasses your SPAM filters, especially when commercial entities can still send unlimited and unsolicited emails for $20,000 a year. Just sounds like it is a lot more about making money than stopping spam, especially with comments such as this in their FAQ;

If you are sending legitimate email with a negligible complaint rate AND you want to ensure your email isn’t blocked or put into the bulk folder, Sender Score Certified is for you.

Define legitimate email, and what is a negligible complaint rate? This description is a little bit too loose I think, especially when Return Path stand to make a lot of money by letting their certified customers send more email.

Anonymous's picture

Lost files and Folders

Hi Everyone,
Can you pls help. I a have a Hotmail account but had not accesed it for some time. Last night I wanted to have a look at my previously save folders and I was asked to re-activate the account, which I did but WHERE is my important folders and files gone? Can I ever recover these?
Pls help.

Brashquido's picture

That's happened to me a few

That's happened to me a few times in the 8 years I've hat my hotmail account Korehan, and another reason not to use Hotmail for important communications. Unfortunately I would say that all your data is gone. You could try contacting Hotmail support, but I don't like your chances of being able to get anything back from one of their free accounts.

Anonymous's picture

So what are the solutions??

How I wish I had found this article sooner. Just 2 questions to anyone listening.

1. Will changing the IP of my mailserver to a 'clean' IP address solve the problem of being blocked


2. How do we start the revolution to get hotmail to sort their act out? Where do I sign up. As webmasters we have the power to make ourselves be heard. Hotmail MUST listen.

Brashquido's picture

Patience and luck...

1) I would say probably not, but can't be sure. My mail server has two IP addresses and after being blocked I changed the IP my mail server was bound to. This fixed the problem for a couple of days before it was blocked as well. This might have been because the two IP's I used were on the same subnet, but who knows. I personally doubt that.

2) Microsoft will have invested a massive amount of money and energy into their SenderID / SmartScreen screen technologies, so I very much doubt that they will let go of that easily. About the only thing you can do for now is spread the word and ban hotmail addresses from your site. If the combined reaction is greater than any benefit Microsoft can possibly attribute to their SenderID / SmartScreen (i.e it starts costing them money and/or users in a big way), then they may reconsider.

Anonymous's picture

Same problem happened to me...

After a week of investigation, still no clue.. all my mails goes into Junk

SPF are done, contacted MS support and cache are refreshed..