This article was originally published as part of the Pobox blog. Pobox was acquired by Fastmail in 2015.

Since we began holding messages we caught as spam (many, many years ago now!), a frequent question has been, "Where is the message I released?" To help answer this question, we have added Delivery Status to the Released Messages page. We hope this will help give a little insight about what's happening behind the scenes!

To view Delivery Status, just click "Edit Columns on the Released Messages page, and check "Delivery Status". There are 3 possible states we display: Bounced, Queued or Sent.

If a message is marked Bounced, we tried to deliver it to the address you selected, and it was rejected by your ISP. This could be due to an overfull mailbox, or a problem with your account. If your release bounced, other messages may also be bouncing, so we recommend adding another forwarding address where we can send your messages, and then re-releasing the message. If your other mail is not bouncing, it's possible that the message you're releasing is actually a phishing attempt or virus, and your ISP is rejecting that message, to protect you from a dangerous email.

If a message is marked Queued, it means that Pobox has it flagged for release, but the release hasn't been processed yet. In order to keep the Spam system running smoothly, releases are processed in a batch. But if you have a message that's been marked Queued for more than 20 minutes, please email Customer Support and let us know, and we'll do what we can to get it released, pronto!

A message marked Sent means that your message is being sent. This is what you should nearly always see. However, this is actually the most common "missing" group!

In most cases, the message characteristics that caused us to think the message was spam also caused your ISP to think the message is spam. Usually, these messages can be found in your ISP's Junk Mail or Spam folder. If they aren't, we recommend emailing your ISP and asking them to locate the missing message. If you also add the "Released Time" column to your Released Messages page, you can see what time we sent you the message.

Another reason why a message marked Sent might go missing is if you have multiple forwarding addresses on your account, and you released the message to one other than the one you're checking. In that case, the simplest thing to do is just release the message again.

Released mail is usually delivered immediately, because there's such a small number of messages sent out from those servers. However, from time to time, mail has been backed up by someone releasing a large amount of spam. In those cases, we have seen messages to other users at that ISP get deferred (or temporarily rejected, with a request to retry delivery later.) This is the major reason that we monitor releases; releasing spam can cause other people's legitimate mail to be delayed.

We hope that you'll find this additional little piece of information about Released Messages useful!