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Trace The IP Address Of An Email Server

If you're receiving harassing e-mails, or even just SPAM messages from a repeated sender that you wish would stop, what can you do besides identify the e-mail address of the sender in order to discover the culprit? The next logical step is to find out the person's IP address. An IP address from the e-mail server can give you a very good idea of the person's location so that you can take further action to track him or her down and bring the e-mails to a complete stop.

With the IP address of an e-mail server, you can find out a great deal about who has sent you those constant irritating messages, that virus that threatened to infect your computer (which was hopefully unsuccessful) or even a threat or blackmail message.

The trick is knowing how to read e-mail headers that reveal the original IP address of the sender of an e-mail. If you're like many people, you may have just felt the inclination to give up, because that sounds very technical and complicated; but don't worry, this process is much easier than you think. You neither need a large amount of computer experience nor a PhD in computer programming to figure this out.

Just like with snail mail, e-mail messages come with their own electronic form of envelope. When you receive a letter through snail mail, there is usually a return address label at the top of the envelope. The same thing goes for the electronic envelope in which your e-mails are delivered. Except, instead of being called a return address label, e-mails have "headers".

Headers are simply a series of text lines with various characters and codes that precede the message that the sender has typed to you. When you use an e-mail program such as Microsoft® Outlook, Microsoft® Outlook Express, Googleâ„¢'s Gmail, Windows Liveâ„¢ Hotmail, or Yahoo® Mail, the programs or web-based e-mail display pages will not usually show the headers when they open an e-mail for you. However, this does not mean that you cannot access the header at all.

Each of these e-mail programs will allow you to see a header when you want to. Depending on the program, this may involve viewing the message "Properties", or you may need to change your overall settings in the "Options" menu to display the headings. Either way, it is not a complicated process, and it allows you to view a great deal more about the people sending you e-mail.

The header consists of seven main pieces of information. Once you know what they look like, you'll be able to identify and understand them within your own e-mails. Your headers may include more information than the following, but when you're looking for the IP address, the following is all you need to understand.

- "To:" This is the name and the e-mail address of the recipient of the e-mail. This includes you and anyone else who was copied in to the e-mail (not including blind copies, to which you will not have access). For example « To: "Your Name" <youre-mail@sample.com> »

- "From:" This line contains the name and e-mail address of the sender of the e-mail. For example « From: "Joe Spam"<joespam@sample.com> »

- "Date:" The message was created on this date, at this time, and in this time zone. For example « Date: 1 Jan 2008 21:42:32 -0000 »

- "Subject:" This is the subject line of the message. For example « Subject: Buy these watches »

- "Return Path:" This is the e-mail address to which any responses are sent. This may or may not be the same as the sending e-mail address. For example « Return Path: <bobspam@sample.com> »

- "Received:" This is the delivery stamp placed on the envelope of the e-mail you've received. For example « Received: from [12.34.567.890] by spamweb123.mail.sample.com via HTTP; Tue, 01 Jan 2008 21:42:32 EST »

It is that last category that holds the information you need. That strange looking number with all of the periods breaking it up, such as in the sample "12.34.567.890", is the IP address of the sender's e-mail server.

Email Tracing