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Hard Bounce

Definition - 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.

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 (
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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