Hard Bounce

What Does Hard Bounce Mean?

A hard bounce is an email message that is returned or bounced back to a sender due to a recipient’s invalid email address and/or domain host details. It is a type of bounced email message that is visible only when a sender provides incorrect or unknown email credentials.

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Techopedia Explains Hard Bounce

A hard bounce is a permanent reason why an email cannot be delivered to a recipient. It occurs in the following situations:

  • A sender incorrectly types a user’s email address.
  • A recipient’s email address does not exist on the domain or email server.
  • The recipient’s domain does not exist at all ([email protected]).

All of these situations are permanent because no matter how many times the sender tries to resend the email message, the sender will continue to receive a hard bounce email. Once the email is rejected by the recipient’s email server (when the domain exists, but the recipient does not), an auto-generated bounced email is sent by the recipient’s domain server specifying that the user does not exist on that domain. Similarly, when a recipient domain is invalid, the sender’s host domain will auto-generate a bounced email indicating that the specified domain does not exist or cannot be reached.

A hard bounce also occurs when an email message has been rejected by the recipient’s email server for privacy or security reasons (email/email domain/recipient tagged as spam/spammer).

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.