Gmail and Sending Limits on Outgoing Mail

Gmail-1

To limit abuse from potential spammers, Gmail — Google’s free email service — imposes a limit on the number of emails you can send per day. The exact limit isn’t known (some say it’s a little less than 400 messages, others say 500 messages). When you reach that limit, though, Gmail will suspend your ability to send mail for an unspecified length of time. (On message boards, users claim the shutdown lasts anywhere from 24 to 72 hours.)

I’m a big fan of Gmail. Behind the scenes, every single one of my email addresses forwards to a single Gmail account. As a result, whether I’m at my desk or on the road, I can view and reply to all my email from one web-based interface. If I can get to the Internet, I can get to my messages. In addition, Gmail builds a searchable archive of all my mail, freeing me from having to squeeze all that information onto my laptop’s hard drive.

Another reason I love Gmail: my outgoing emails can all be stamped with a personal email address of my own choosing. In my case, instead of having those emails be labeled [my address]@gmail.com, I can have them show the “mismailbox.com” address I prefer for people to use.

So, I love Gmail. I love it so much that, about a month ago, instead of reading and writing mail in an application (like Outlook, Entourage, or Apple’s mail.app), I started exclusively reading and writing mail in Gmail’s web-based interface. Over time, though, this has become a little uncomfortable, for a number of reasons:

– You can’t write email off-line, to be uploaded to Gmail later.

– The web-based interface doesn’t spell-check as you write.

– The web-based interface can be a little hard on the eyes after a while.

So yesterday, I tried an experiment: could I still enjoy all the goodness of Gmail … but read and write email in Apple’s mail.app?

Before I knew it, I had the system up and running. Outgoing mail was still being stamped with the address I prefer for folks to use, and incoming mail was arriving just fine. Unfortunately, for reasons I still don’t quite understand, Gmail suddenly began sending me a copy of every email message I’ve ever archived. My Inbox began filling with hundreds of messages, and I couldn’t stop the process.

As a result, my ability to send Gmail has been suspended. (Attempting to do so produces a dialog box that says, “You have reached a limit for sending mail.”) Happily, I’ve got other accounts I can use to send messages through … otherwise, I could be silenced for up to three days with no way to send outgoing mail.

(Hitting the limit doesn’t just happen to spammers and klutzes like me. I’ve come across stories from many other users, most of whom were trying to tell all their contacts, “Hey, I’ve moved to Gmail!” Their first 400 or so alerts went out … and then Gmail shut them down.)

I understand Google’s need to limit Gmail’s attractiveness to spammers. Still, this experience has exposed Gmail’s slimy underbelly to me in more ways than one:

– Gmail offers zero customer support. You can forget getting answers from Google about this or any other issue. Customer support is pretty much limited to FAQ’s and a customer-driven message board. I never found a direct way to contact customer service, and those who have used the web-based form say they never get answers.

– Gmail doesn’t give its customers important information. What’s the upper limit on outgoing mail per day, exactly? How long will my outgoing email be shut off? (The dialog box I see just says, “Wait a while.” How long is a while?) How will I know when my service will be restored? Details like these are important; until Google releases them, Gmail users should be cautious about using the service.

– Complaints fall on deaf ears. Any criticism of the system tends to get met with, “Hey, it’s a free service. Don’t like it? Don’t use it.” To an extent, this is true — Gmail is a powerful email service that is offered to the public at no charge. Still … using that “free service” status to squelch valid questions and objections strikes me as more than a little churlish.

If you’re using Gmail — especially as your primary or exclusive email solution — you should be aware of these issues.

Gmail-1

To limit abuse from potential spammers, Gmail — Google’s free email service — imposes a limit on the number of emails you can send per day. The exact limit isn’t known (some say it’s a little less than 400 messages, others say 500 messages). When you reach that limit, though, Gmail will suspend your ability to send mail for an unspecified length of time. (On message boards, users claim the shutdown lasts anywhere from 24 to 72 hours.)

I’m a big fan of Gmail. Behind the scenes, every single one of my email addresses forwards to a single Gmail account. As a result, whether I’m at my desk or on the road, I can view and reply to all my email from one web-based interface. If I can get to the Internet, I can get to my messages. In addition, Gmail builds a searchable archive of all my mail, freeing me from having to squeeze all that information onto my laptop’s hard drive.

Another reason I love Gmail: my outgoing emails can all be stamped with a personal email address of my own choosing. In my case, instead of having those emails be labeled [my address]@gmail.com, I can have them show the “mismailbox.com” address I prefer for people to use.

So, I love Gmail. I love it so much that, about a month ago, instead of reading and writing mail in an application (like Outlook, Entourage, or Apple’s mail.app), I started exclusively reading and writing mail in Gmail’s web-based interface. Over time, though, this has become a little uncomfortable, for a number of reasons:

– You can’t write email off-line, to be uploaded to Gmail later.

– The web-based interface doesn’t spell-check as you write.

– The web-based interface can be a little hard on the eyes after a while.

So yesterday, I tried an experiment: could I still enjoy all the goodness of Gmail … but read and write email in Apple’s mail.app?

Before I knew it, I had the system up and running. Outgoing mail was still being stamped with the address I prefer for folks to use, and incoming mail was arriving just fine. Unfortunately, for reasons I still don’t quite understand, Gmail suddenly began sending me a copy of every email message I’ve ever archived. My Inbox began filling with hundreds of messages, and I couldn’t stop the process.

As a result, my ability to send Gmail has been suspended. (Attempting to do so produces a dialog box that says, “You have reached a limit for sending mail.”) Happily, I’ve got other accounts I can use to send messages through … otherwise, I could be silenced for up to three days with no way to send outgoing mail.

(Hitting the limit doesn’t just happen to spammers and klutzes like me. I’ve come across stories from many other users, most of whom were trying to tell all their contacts, “Hey, I’ve moved to Gmail!” Their first 400 or so alerts went out … and then Gmail shut them down.)

I understand Google’s need to limit Gmail’s attractiveness to spammers. Still, this experience has exposed Gmail’s slimy underbelly to me in more ways than one:

– Gmail offers zero customer support. You can forget getting answers from Google about this or any other issue. Customer support is pretty much limited to FAQ’s and a customer-driven message board. I never found a direct way to contact customer service, and those who have used the web-based form say they never get answers.

– Gmail doesn’t give its customers important information. What’s the upper limit on outgoing mail per day, exactly? How long will my outgoing email be shut off? (The dialog box I see just says, “Wait a while.” How long is a while?) How will I know when my service will be restored? Details like these are important; until Google releases them, Gmail users should be cautious about using the service.

– Complaints fall on deaf ears. Any criticism of the system tends to get met with, “Hey, it’s a free service. Don’t like it? Don’t use it.” To an extent, this is true — Gmail is a powerful email service that is offered to the public at no charge. Still … using that “free service” status to squelch valid questions and objections strikes me as more than a little churlish.

If you’re using Gmail — especially as your primary or exclusive email solution — you should be aware of these issues.

Mark McElroy

I'm a husband, mystic, writer, media producer, creative director, tinkerer, blogger, reader, gadget lover, and pizza fiend.

10 comments

  • I just tried to email out a couple of hundred copies of the survey results which were attached as 200kb spreadsheets. My email was rejected by Gmail, with the following error against it: “550 5.4.5 Daily sending quota exceeded”

  • I have experienced some problems with e-mail quota, even being an administrator, but after contacting the Google-team, I’ve allways gotten answers. So, I do not agrre with what is said here about “deaf ears”. In fact, I have several e-mail accounts on gmail, and now es-tc.net (attached to google) and everytime I have doubts and troubles there has ALWAYS been an answer. it is true that sometimes it takes 3 or 4 days. But I never waited even for a week for an answer. So I’m surprised with the claims that they don’t answer.

    As for the daily limit, I think google is not the only one trying to solve the spam problems this way.

    i sincerly hope that all e-mail services will stop this way of leading with spam, because they are harming people who are not spamers.

    Stay well….Amélia

  • As of May 2007, the official gmail limit is 500/message via the web interface, and 100/message via an email client. But there is no mention of the total per hour or day.

    I have not run into the quota with gmail. I don’t send a lot of mass mailings. I do have a list that totals 140 recipients. My web/mail host (powweb.com) would only send part of the list, then shut me down for a few hours. Yahoo would not allow that amount either. So I opened a gmail account mainly to replace yahoo and use instead of my main mailhost for sending.

    I have sent to that list 3 times in a hour without a problem (140×3=420), and 4-5 times over a day (140×5=700). It seems that gmail is more liberal when the mail is spread out over a day.

    (ps my list is actually two lists of 60 and 80, so it doesn’t break the 100/message limit.)

    Gmail has also smartly forced SSL on all email clients. Gmail is a good thing.

    Have you noticed how many people have changed their hotmail addresses to gmail?

  • Here is the official word from Gmail as of May 2007. Hmm, 100/msg or 500/msg is the limit per message, but what is the limit per hour, per day? Yet “they have a number of sending limits”, and “causes may include”…. but what are the other causes? Do they have an official list internally, if so why not post it here so users know. I guess someone could just test it out.

    Are there limits for sending mail?

    Gmail has a number of sending limits in place to prevent abuse of our system, and to help fight spam. If you reach one of Gmail’s limits, you’ll be temporarily unable to send mail. This limit is generally removed within 24 hours.

    Causes include, but are not limited to:

    Sending a message to more than 500 recipients.You can send a single message to a maximum of 500 recipients through the web interface, or up to 100 recipients when using POP access. Their email addresses can be distributed among the To, Cc, and Bcc fields. If you communicate with the same group of people on a regular basis, you might be interested in Google Groups.

  • Final thoughts…. why don’t these email systems (gmail, yahoo, hotmail, etc) have a two tiered shutoff point. The 24 hour shutoff is overly draconian. It’s a shock to the system when it happens and most people will not expect it or be prepared.

    The mail server needs to warn the user, then allow a few more messages to be sent before a long shutdown.

    The mail server should send a first shutdown stating that outgoing mail cannot be sent for the next 30min. At that point 10 messages can be sent during the next 8-24 hours, at which time the limits will be reset.

    Or simply tell the user they have 5-10 message left on their daily limit – this might cause some panic, but it’s a lot less panic than finding out that you can’t send anymore mail for an unknown period of time, when you have to get that important business message to a client.

  • I use Gmail for my business. integrated with Google App. It is great that i don’t need to buy ms office. Sure Google app is small business winner.

  • I am Gmail user since 2005 and this morning I got a warining from a friend of mine – your mail box is hacked – someone is sending a lot of messages to your mailing list. In the meanwhile I got a limitation of my sending mails – a restriction for 24 hours. Does anybody know how to get rid of that worm or robot who sends maild from my e-mail account?Please help!

    Mitko Nenkov

  • I've just had my account temporarily frozen for this reason. I'm publicising an art event I'm organising. I sent out the mail to my mailing list and as usually happens lots of them bounced back. This is the busiest week on my project and I need to focus on publicity for my project and gmail shuts me down. Also have to apply for a job, the deadline for is today. I am SOOO pissed off with gmail!

Who Wrote This?

Mark McElroy

I'm a husband, mystic, writer, media producer, creative director, tinkerer, blogger, reader, gadget lover, and pizza fiend.

Worth a Look