Inbound mail flow

Inbound mail flow

Where is the message that someone claims to have sent me?

We have a new Guided Walkthrough Troubleshooter available for troubleshooting issues sending or receiving email.  Please try it and let us know what you think! 

Scenario: In this scenario an Office 365 mailbox is not receiving a message sent from outside of the Office 365 organization.

If this is NOT your email delivery issue, or if the sender is getting a bounce message, return here.

Steps:

  1. User: See if Office 365 received the message and was able to deliver it
  2. Administrator: Track the message through Message Trace feature
  3. Work with the sender to determine what happened to the message

 

Step 1: User: See if Office 365 received the message and was able to deliver it

This step can be followed by any person with an Office 365 mailbox.  If you are an administrator, you may wish to skip to Step 2.

Since you don’t have the item, you will need to enter the delivery report center though Outlook Web App (OWA).  Log in to OWA, go to Options, and find the Delivery Reports under Organize Email:

Highlight the Search for messages that were sent to me from button and then in the box that pops up, type the SMTP address of the user you sent mail to:

As an administrator or someone with the ability to track messages (helpdesk), you can also access Delivery Reports for any user directly from the Exchange Admin Center. From Office 365 portal, go to the Admin page and select Exchange

Note: Small Business customers will need to follow the steps here to access Exchange Admin Center: http://community.office365.com/en-us/wikis/exchange/4077.aspx

Once in Exchange Admin Center, select Delivery Reports in the Mail flow tab. 

Things to consider for inbound messages when looking at the Delivery Report results:

  • If the message doesn’t appear in the report results, it may never have made it to Office 365.  If you are an administrator for your Office 365 subscription, proceed to Step 2 as you should use Message Trace feature to verify if the message was filtered in Anti-Spam.
  • If the message appears in the report results, check to make sure it was delivered.  If it was delivered, check to see if an inbox rule rerouted or deleted the message.  Check to see if the email was moved to the Junk folder.  For more information on inbox rules, see Learn About Inbox Rules.
  • Administrators: If the message was not delivered, did a transport rule act on the message? For more information on Transport Rules, see Create a new Rule.

  • For more information about Delivery Reports see TechNet for more assistance.

 

Step 2: Track the message through Message Trace Feature

At this point, if you’re an end-user, you need to get your tenant administrator involved.

As an administrator or someone with the ability to track messages (helpdesk), you will need to navigate to Message Trace in the Exchange Admin Center. From Office 365 portal, go to the Admin page and select Exchange

Note: Small Business customers will need to follow the steps here to access Exchange Admin Center: http://community.office365.com/en-us/wikis/exchange/4077.aspx

Once in Exchange Admin Center, select Message Trace in the Mail flow tab. 

In the Message Trace tool, enter the search parameters – in this case, enter the sender and recipient addresses.

Message Trace tool supports wildcard searches and many other features.  For more information about Message Trace see TechNet for more assistance.

After retrieving results and clicking Details, you’ll see more information like this in the Message Trace Summary:

You may wish to capture a screenshot of this information in case you need to provide more details to the receiving side or to Office 365 Support.

If the message cannot be located within the allowed time period, then Office 365 never received the message and you should continue to Step 3. 

 

Step 3: Work with the sender to determine what happened to the message

Assuming that you still have not solved the issue, this is about as far as you can go right now from the receiving side.  If the sender just sent you the message, you may need to give it some time to arrive or timeout.  If the message times out, then the sender will get a notification and be able to skip to the troubleshooting notifications section.  If, however, the sender does not receive a notification, then the sending side should perform message tracking.  In most cases, the remote side should be able to provide you with information to help you make sure that the message was handed off properly.  One data point that will be extremely useful is the IP address of the system to which they handed off the message.  Frequently, the problem is that a DNS configuration problem causes the sending system to hand off the message to the wrong email server.  Having an IP address will help you in this case.

 

One last thing you can try as a test: have the sender email your onmicrosoft.com email address instead of using your custom domain address.  This test can help prove if the issue is with DNS.

 

Common problems

Here we'll add links to helpful Knowledge Base articles or other documentation that pertains to this scenario.   

  • Most commonly the issue is that your DNS records, specifically the MX record is not configured correctly.  This would be particularly true if other users within your domain that are using Office 365 are also unable to receive email.
  • Use of more than one MX record with Office 365 is not recommended or supported by Microsoft.  The options are as follows:
    • MX record points to Office 365 ONLY
    • MX record points to other email server which forwards some/all email to Office 365 (e.g. Hybrid or Simple Shared).  Multiple MX records can be used in this scenario, but only if one of the MX records is NOT pointing to Office 365.

Trying to use multiple records can result in:

  • Missing email
  • Rejected email
  • Inconsistent results with spam

To verify that you only have one MX record, open a Command Prompt and type:

 

nslookup -type=MX contoso.com

 

Where contoso.com is your domain. You should ONLY get one result, like this:

Server:  foo.contoso.com
Address:  10.2.3.7

Non-authoritative answer:
contoso.com  MX preference = 5, mail exchanger = contoso-com.mail.protection.outlook.com

 

To make sure this record is correct, login as an administrator account.  Click Admin and then Office 365.  Click on Domains and then select your custom domain.  The MX record will be listed if you click on View DNS Settings.

Tip: Make sure the domain status is not saying Setup in progress.  If it does, then you need to configure your records. 

  • If you recently moved your domain (Small Business) or MX records (Enterprise or Education), there is a DNS caching period where some servers may still deliver your email to your old provider.  If you have recently moved the domain to Office 365 and are missing email, one thing you should try to do is check the old provider and see if the are still getting some of your email.  The problem may be isolated to some senders.
  • If you have Office 365 Small Business and are having trouble receiving email from your old email provider, the problem may be that the old provider is still hosting stale DNS records for your domain.  If the domain you are using was hosted somewhere other than the domain registrar you were using, then you may also need to contact your old DNS provider and have them remove the stale entries for your domain. For more information see Domains in Office 365.

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Comments
  • This sentence makes no sense - "Highlight the Search for messages that were sent TO me FROM button and then in the box that pops up, type the SMTP address of the user you sent mail TO:"

    In addition to that senseless statement, the form does not allow me to enter an address at all.  It requires me to select one from my contacts list.  That's ridiculous..

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