Understanding email quarantines

Types of quarantines

There are three different types of quarantines.

Temporary quarantines: soft bounces, addresses temporarily not available (inbox full, out of office messages...).

Duration of a temporary quarantine:

  • 1st time: 1 week

  • 2nd time: 2 weeks

  • 3rd time: 4 weeks (1 month)

  • 4th time: 8 weeks (2 months)

  • 5th time: 16 weeks (4 months)

The fact that a webmail classifies an email address as spam doesn't imply a quarantine. In this case, the problem is the sender, not the address quality.

Long-term quarantines: hard bounces, addresses that don't exist or don't exist anymore.

Blacklist: people who have marked your emails as spam from their inbox.

Quarantines (both, long-term and temporary) are common to all databases and clients. Blacklists only apply to your license.

This means that a quarantined address is, in a way, a blocked address for every user. However, a blacklisted address is an address that has specifically blocked your emails.

Why is an email quarantined?

There are usually three reasons for an email to be quarantined.

1.- An email has been sent to a given profile and a hard bounce has taken place. When the domain is well-known, such as @gmail.com, the bounce is trustworthy. In this case, a long-term quarantine starts right after the first message. If it's not a well-known domain, the quarantine will not be as direct and up to two messages will be allowed before starting the long-term quarantine.

2.- Several emails are sent over several months to an address and there is always a soft bounce (for example, full inbox). First, a temporary quarantine (one or more weeks) will start, and then, if issue persists, a several-month quarantine.

3.- A quarantine history from the tool previously used by the client (if that tool is reliable and manages quarantines in a similar way to Actito) is imported and the email address was included.

This third and last way is the only one that might be a source of errors. Even if we are extremely cautious, an imported history might always contain mistakes. In this case, the source of the error can be identified and a quarantined could be imposed or lifted to solve the problem. The history import is also verified. When a particularly big license is integrated into Actito, it can be cleaned so as to release the most active quarantined profiles.

The reason why a profile is blacklisted is quite different.

If someone clicks on the "Mark as Spam" button (which is a complaint), they will be blacklisted, and all the messages sent by your license to their email address will be automatically filtered. Their profile's blacklist field will show the moment the complaint was issued.

It's possible to release an email address from a blacklist, but the process is not that simple.

Some "junk" domains are filtered automatically (which is technically not a quarantine but has the same effect). They are domains such as "yopmail", temporary addresses that will damage your database quality and your deliverability on the long run.

All this information is linked to the email addresses and not to the profiles. This means that a person may leave the quarantine or the blacklist only by changing their email address. Of course, if the new address is not already quarantined or blacklisted.

How to check if an address is quarantined?

It's possible to find out who is quarantined and to use that information in your targeting. However, this is only possible when you have already tried to contact your profiles at least once.

This is how you can find out how many addresses are affected by quarantines and blacklist restrictions.

For quarantines:


For quarantines and blacklist:


For individuals:

If you want to find out the status of a given person, you can check directly on their profile file. In the "Attributes" section there are two fields that will provide you with this information, both in the "Technical Attributes" section, at the bottom of the screen.

The first one is "Blacklisted on": if it's completed, it's because that person issued a complain (clicked on the mark as spam button).


The second one is "Latest email status": you will see here if the profile's status from last time they were contacted and if it is quarantined or blacklisted.


Or for example:


In the Interactions section you can check, email by email, if they have been filtered and why.

If you click on the eye icon, at the right of the email, you'll obtain more information:


Can a quarantine be lifted?

In general terms, yes, it can.

If you want to release a given number of specific quarantined addresses, write an email to our technical support indicating the relevant addresses (don't forget your license name). You should also include some information such as the type of quarantine. The procedure is slightly different for blacklist cases, where you will have to take on a part of the process.

When it comes to bigger number of profiles (hundreds or thousands) an in-depth investigation is required to understand why there are so many quarantined addresses.

Is it risky to lift a quarantine?

It's not risky if we are to release just a couple of profiles from long-term quarantines. In the worst case scenario, we would receive hard bounces from them and it's not a problem as long as they don't amount to more than 1% of the campaign. The profiles would then be quarantined again and, at least this time, we would know that they are rightly so.

However, if we are to release a big number of addresses, the risk of having our bounce rate increased is high and that can impact our deliverability on the long run. In this case the options must be considered on a case by case basis. The strategies that we will propose to you will depend on the total volume of your campaigns and the number of addresses affected.

On the other hand, releasing a profile from a blacklist instead of a quarantine is a different process. In this case, the risk is rather legal. For that reason, there's a different procedure in place for which we will need you to proof that the person agrees with their email not being blacklisted anymore.