How to ping an email address to validate it

One of the ways to validate emails is to ping separate email addresses using nothing else but Windows PC. Of course, the most accurate way would be sending a real message to the address, though often people wonder how to check if an email exists without sending it. So in this short article we’ll show you how to ping an email address. This implies a basic knowledge of computer and networking.

All you need is operating system Microsoft Windows 7 & 8 (for other OS there are ways too, but different). Ping is a common tool for diagnosing connection between computers, and email box pinging is somewhat similar. It means there is a point A machine – your PC for example, and a point B  machine – such as mail server. In many cases, with it you can determine whether an email address is valid, although this method isn’t 100% conclusive.

How to ping an email address

Pinging an email to validate it is based on the following principle – when an email is sent, it goes to an SMTP server, and a server checks the MX (mail exchange) records of the email domain. In other words, the email to test@gmail.com will look up the gmail.com domain. If records exist, next you need to determine if the username exists.

With the aforementioned principle you can do this verification. Let’s say we want to check the address 12345@gmail.com. You will need Windows OS, Telnet client, and command console.

Step 1. Enable Telnet

Open the Start menu on your PC or laptop, go to Control Panel. There go to Programs, and then  Features. Click on “Turn Windows features on or off” and in a pop-up window with Windows features, put a tick on Telnet client. Click OK and wait few seconds, and that’s it.

how to ping email address

Step 2. Find the mail server

In Search at the bottom of PC menu, search for “cmd” and click on a small black box – this opens the command prompt. Type nslookup –type=mx domain.com. In our case it is Gmail, you’ll have to just replace domain.com with the one you’re checking.

how to ping email address

Press Enter and it will load the list of MX records for that domain, since we specify the type as MX. It will look something like this, in our case:

how to ping email address

Step 3. Connect to the server

As you will see, there could be multiple MX records for a certain domain, with various preference levels. Pick one of them and send a pretend email to that server. This is done, again, using Telnet protocol, so we type in the following command and click Enter:

how to ping email address
…and you will get a response like this:

how to ping email address

Step 4. “Talk” to the server

After that, we type the following sequence into the Telnet session. HELO and press Enter, mail from: info@ilead.io (you will replace it with yours) and press Enter, and type the recipient email address we want to validate.

how to ping email address

Here is how that whole session will look like on our example email:

how to ping email address

Step 5. Check results

So our little exploration shows that 12345@gmail.com is not a valid email address (“does not exist”). If the address exists, you’ll get the OK message. Common error results are:

  • The email account that you tried to reach does not exist
  • The email account that you tried to reach is disabled

And that’s the story. Note, that while code 550 indicates invalid email address or wrong email address, the “positive” response will be marked by 250. Also, be aware that regular use of this method to check Gmail, Yahoo, MSN domains could result in your IP blacklisted.

Final words

Now you know how to ping an email address in a fairly easy way. However, it won’t work in all situations, as technologies evolve constantly, and results aren’t 100% accurate. In addition, email providers may put strict policies for remote mail servers in order to prevent spam. If you are unable to validate an email address by pinging, you may use iLead online service.

validate email with ilead

It is totally free, and it grants a much more detailed analysis for email validation. It includes format, syntax, MX records, domain, SMTP server and address existence. Results are marked in percentage, so you’ll get a clearer picture for your further actions.

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