Can’t send emails to AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail

Are you having trouble sending emails to people who have AOL email addresses, or yahoo email addresses, or hotmail email addresses?

Are you trying to send that email from an email address with your own domain name or your business domain name that is hosted on a shared hosting service? i.e.  (See below for more of an explanation)

The combination of those two situations has been causing a major problem for many people for a long time now.

Let me explain, as best as I can.

I am no expert, but this is how I understand it.

Rate Limiting by AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail and others

A little less than a year ago, aol and yahoo and hotmail and some other of these email services that have been around for a very long time adjusted how they apply what is called “Rate Limiting”.  According to Wikipedia, they start their definition of  “rate limiting” as,

In computer networks, rate limiting is used to control the rate of traffic sent or received by a network interface controller.

These companies use rate limiting as a means of limiting email traffic.  Why?  So that they can reduce spam and other unwanted email activity, which sometimes can come from bulk email, and perhaps also because they cannot handle the traffic volume.  I don’t know but those seem like the most obvious possible reasons.

Shared Hosting Service Emails

Shared Hosting Services are offered by many many hosting companies.  They usually come in the form of a price tag of $12/month or under for website and email hosting.  They are affordably priced and appropriate for individuals, small business and medium sized business to host their websites and the email addresses that run off their own domain names, i.e.

A shared hosting server allows many people to have their websites and emails all running on the same server, (you can imagine it as one computer that hundreds of people, who don’t know each other, are sharing to run their websites and email accounts).  All of these people normally share the same IP address which is the IP address of the server. An IP address is sort of like our street address that we have paper mail sent to, it is a unique identification specific to that location.

So if you have an email address that is running off one of these shared hosting servers, then you likely have been running into problems sending emails to people with aol accounts, or yahoo accounts or hotmail accounts.  I don’t know what other services are sharing these problems.  It does not seem to be a problem sending email to gmail.

The Problem

When AOL and Yahoo and Hotmail and others changed how they applied their rate limiting, they did so in such a way that it is affecting emails being sent from shared hosting accounts – drastically limiting the volume.  Think of 5 lanes of traffic being limited to 2 lanes of traffic.  A lot of traffic just can’t get through.

You should know that your email is not getting through because it will get bounced back to you as undelivered.

Why shared hosting accounts?  Because all of the email being sent from one shared hosting account is being interpreted by AOL, Yahoo and Hotmail as if all of that email is coming from one source, that one IP address, and I guess it thinks it is one user sending out bulk email that might be spam. Of course it is not bulk email, it is just that there are many domain names owned by many people running off of one server at one IP address and AOL, Yahoo and Hotmail see that server as if it were one user.  This is something AOL, Yahoo and Hotmail need to fix.

This has never been much of a problem in the past, but it seems that it has become one recently – at least to me over the past 6 months and many others whom I know as well.  I searched online and found people complaining on all sorts of hosting company support forums and the like.

What is the Solution?

Sorry.  I don’t really have a good one.  Other than just wait it out with hope that AOL, Yahoo and Hotmail will fix this problem – below are some options I can think of.

If you have an AOL, Yahoo or Hotmail account

If you have an AOL, Yahoo or Hotmail email account and find people complaining that they cannot send email to you, perhaps it is time to make the shift and get one with Gmail or some other service that is more modern.  You can set it up so that all email from your old email address gets forwarded to your new email service, to make it easier to transition and have only one place to check email.

If you are having issues sending to AOL, Yahoo or Hotmail accounts

If you are having trouble sending to people with these email accounts, you might first see if they have an alternate email address you can use.  If not, you could ask them if they are having trouble with other people sending to them, educate them about this problem and suggest they consider a new email address as an alternate that they may someday have as a permanent email address.  Gmail is very popular because it is built well and generally considered to be one of the best email services.

Changing your hosting to another hosting service will not help the problem if you change to another shared hosting service.  You could upgrade to a dedicated hosting server, but that can cost quite a bit more.


One option that I believe has potential would be to move your email hosting to a company called Hover (click to connect to their site). They do not host websites, only domain names and email, and from talking with one of their reps just now, they have no record of having these problems with their email service.

They also offer a valet migrate service where they could transfer your email accounts to Hover as long as you are running them via IMAP now, (you could just switch before hand if needed from POP, the other way it might be set up) and you would have to move your domain name to be registered with them also (and you would point what are called the A records for your domain name back to where your website is hosted).  They can help you with it.

Alternatively, if you wanted to save your old emails and you did not want to use their valet migration service, you could download all of your email to your computer to have your history of it and then cancel your email hosting on your shared hosting service and start a new account with Hover or another such service and re-create those same email addresses there.  You could call Hover and ask the best way to do it given your circumstance.  They answer the phone and have great customer support.

Was this helpful?  Do you have anything to contribute? Please share your feedback or contribution below.

5 thoughts on “Can’t send emails to AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail”

  1. That was extremely, repeat extremely helpful. Thank you!!
    I’m a non-expert and I’ve been struggling to get any explanation of the increasing number of bounce-back messages I’ve been receiving from my ISP (Redstation in the UK) and the increasing number of friends and colleagues who I can’t send to.

  2. Excellent write-up.
    You might like to add that small business e-mail users who host their own e-mail servers will also fall foul of three bits of information.
    1) The IP address that that the e-mail is being sent from must have a PTR record ( your ISP can set this up)
    2) The DNS records for the domain should include both a SPF and DMARC records. These can be created by your DNS administrator (who would often be your hosting company).
    E-mail coming from a domain without the above is automatically given a higher spam score and, quite often, lack of a PTR record will cause e-mail providers like AOL to refuse to accept e-mail at all

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