Free Tool Analyses Email Header To Show Route Taken

Although internet-based email is incredibly useful, it does have its problems.  It's not secure by default, so you need to encrypt confidential messages.  There's no automatic mechanism to find out whether a message was received or read.  And perhaps most worryingly of all, it's easy to send fake mail that appears to come from, well, anyone.  Hence all that spam that seems to have been sent by a collection of people with unbelievable names.  If they appear to have been randomly generated, that's because they probably have.

If you need to investigate the origin of an email message, all the information that you require in order to do is right there, in the message itself, in a section called the header.  Trouble is, most email programs don't display the header information by default.  And even if they did, it would be difficult to understand because it's not really structured in a way that most people can comprehend.

However, a free online tool makes it all very easy.  If you receive an email and you need to check its authenticity, the first step is to view the headers.  In the case of gmail, for example, that means choosing the Show Original option from the drop-down menu to the right of the page.

Once you've grabbed all the headers, go to http://www.levinecentral.com/mail_parse/default.aspx and paste them into the page there.  Within a couple of seconds, you'll see details of the route your message took.  IE, which mail server it was sent from, which one it was destined for, and any other servers that it passed through on its journey.  It's a great head start in your quest to become an email detective!

 

 

 

 

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Comments

by play8oy (not verified) on 8. April 2012 - 14:12  (91771)

How to show the headers in hotmail?

by Al (not verified) on 30. March 2012 - 20:09  (91449)

For those who use Mozilla's Thunderbird, they have a neat little add-on called MailHops that shows where the email originated and even offers a map of the route the email traveled.

by Marker (not verified) on 30. March 2012 - 18:59  (91445)

Are there any freeware header analysers available which can be run from a local PC without having to go online.

by blaszta on 30. March 2012 - 18:44  (91442)

I'm using http://www.mxtoolbox.com/EmailHeaders.aspx
My main interest is to find which node causing slowness in email delivery.

by techinsd (not verified) on 30. March 2012 - 18:58  (91444)

This is the one I use as well. The parse output is great and gives you all the information on the screen.

by steveorg on 30. March 2012 - 17:46  (91438)

Call me paranoid, but giving up your email address as part of the header seems like another way to invite spam. It may be best to change it to something similar to unlikley.address at mydomain.com.

by kswan53 (not verified) on 30. March 2012 - 13:00  (91427)

One question though. How much needs to be pasted into the parser? Where does the "header" stop if you are looking at the message source?

by TerDale on 30. March 2012 - 8:20  (91414)

This one is interesting for the direct link to MultiRBL, but it is ignoring any "Received:" not having a from. For a complete picture and full details my preferred remains http://www.gaijin.at/en/olsmailheader.php

by mousissue (not verified) on 30. March 2012 - 17:08  (91436)

I agree with you, TerDale!
GaiJin is the best I've found so far too.

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