Gmail “Message left on server” Message – What it Means
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If you use Gmail, it is likely that on occasion you will get an email that says something like ‘Message left on server: “(no subject)”‘ or ‘Message left on server: “Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender”‘, or ‘Message left on server:” followed by some random subject.

The message, which comes from “Gmail Team “, will then invariably instruct you that the message “contained a virus or a suspicious attachment. It was therefore not fetched from your account” and that it has “been left on the server.”


Finally, it will advise you that if you wish to write to the sender, you should “just hit reply” and send the sender a message.

It is this last bit that makes the whole email seems questionable – is it a phishing trick? Should you really hit reply?

And, if it’s legitimate, why hit reply to send email to the quarantined sender, when the notice seems to come from Gmail or Google?

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These are all good questions. However, the email is in fact legitimate, and is part of Gmail’s anti-virus efforts.

To answer the last question first, Google has set up their Gmail system to send these notices with the “reply-to” address set to the email address of the person who attempted to send you the presumably virus-laden email. So, if you hit reply in the notice from Gmail, your reply will indeed go back to the person who originated the email which has been quarantined by Gmail.

So no, despite that it may not look it, these emails really are from Google, they are not phishing attempts, and you can safely hit reply.

 

Here are some variations on the email notice:

From: “Gmail Team”
Date: August 9, 2007 11:06:09 PM PDT
Subject: Message left on server: “(no subject)”
Reply-To: “Shaffer Stanislaus”

The message “(no subject)” from Shaffer Stanislaus (dkacj@bigfoot.com) contained a virus or a suspicious attachment. It was therefore not fetched from your account and has been left on the server.

If you wish to write to Shaffer, just hit reply and send Shaffer a message.

Thanks,

The Gmail Team

From: “Gmail Team”
Date: August 9, 2007 11:06:09 PM PDT
Subject: Message left on server: “cashed”
Reply-To: “Adalbert U. Bridges”

The message “cashed” from Adalbert U. Bridges (swrha@evolutionjobs.co.uk) contained a virus or a suspicious attachment. It was therefore not fetched from your account and has been left on the server.

If you wish to write to Adalbert, just hit reply and send Adalbert a message.

Thanks,

The Gmail Team

From: “Gmail Team”
Date: August 9, 2007 9:39:35 PM PDT
Subject: Message left on server: “Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender”
Reply-To: “Mail Delivery System”

The message “Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender” from Mail Delivery System contained a virus or a suspicious attachment. It was therefore not fetched from your account and has been left on the server.

If you wish to write to Mail, just hit reply and send Mail a message.

Thanks,

The Gmail Team

From: “Gmail Team”
Date: August 9, 2007 9:39:32 PM PDT
Subject: Message left on server: “archive”
Reply-To: “Elliott Evelina”

The message “archive” from Elliott Evelina (bshz@trcsolutions.com) contained a virus or a suspicious attachment. It was therefore not fetched from your account and has been left on the server.

If you wish to write to Elliott, just hit reply and send Elliott a message.

Thanks,

The Gmail Team

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The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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6 thoughts on “Gmail “Message left on server” Message – What it Means
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  1. I have never had these messages in 5 years with Gmail, and now get 1-3 every day. What changed?
    Still not clear whether to respond or not. I have copied the email and sent separate email, usually comes back failed delivery, so they must be spam?

  2. Please note that this article addresses a system that Gmail was using in 2007. Back then, specifically with respect to those emails, this advice was correct (as the messages really were from Gmail). That phishers or spammers would have, in the following years, adopted the same language is not at all unsurprising. In other words, it was accurate in 2007, for the emails in 2007.

  3. Absolutely horrible advice. NEVER reply to ANY email that you do not recognize AND, EVEN IF you think you know the person just dont. They’ll contact you eventually, if its legit. Man people are so gullible!

  4. I am getting 50-60 of these message left on the server message in a single morning. Is there a way to eliminate this much spam or virus? I have a second gmail account that only gets 5-6 spam in a months time.

  5. >> and you can safely hit reply <<

    What? That’s completely wrong, and it’s not safe at all.

    If you hit reply and send an email, the spammer will confirm your email. That’s not safe at all.

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