Rate Limited by Google Bulk Email Senders Guidelines


You might see a message like this in your Mail logs:

421-4.7.0 unsolicited mail originating from your IP address. To protect our users from spam, mail sent from your IP address has been temporarily rate limited. Please visit http://www.google.com/mail/help/bulk_mail.html to review our Bulk Email Senders Guidelines.

The message means what it says: Gmail will eventually accept the email, but it will be delayed.

I forward emails to my gmail account so that I have important messages in two places, and I recently noticed that this was causing these messages in my logs. As I am only forwarding to myself, I'm certainly not complaining to Google about spam, but of course I may be forwarding spam that I get myself. Was that why I got those messages?

At the page referenced above, Google makes several recommendations:

To ensure that Gmail can identify you:

  • Use a consistent IP address to send bulk mail.
  • Keep valid reverse DNS records for the IP address(es) from which you send mail, pointing to your domain.
  • Use the same address in the 'From:' header on every bulk mail you send.

We also recommend the following:

  • Sign messages with DKIM. We do not authenticate messages signed with keys using fewer than 1024 bits.
  • Publish an SPF record.
  • Publish a DMARC policy.

I felt I was meeting all of those recommendations except DMARC, so I added that. Still, the messages kept cluttering my INBOX. What was going on?

I was astounded when I found what may be the answer: a while back I had moved my mailserver to a new host and IP address. Amazingly, I forgot to have a PTR (reverse DNS) record created!

Of course I corrected that immediately. I don't know yet if that was the last piece Google needed, but it may well have been. It would certainly have helped if they were more specific in their responses!

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