Microsoft SNDS: Common errors and how to handle them

Microsoft's SNDS (Smart Network Data Service) portal is a free and valuable deliverability resource for senders, providing direct data and feedback regarding your sending reputation. It also allows you to configure JMRP (Junk Mail Reporting Program), the Microsoft version of an ISP FBL. Very useful! Occasionally, however, the service's website can present as glitchy. But don't despair -- few SNDS website errors are fatal and most can be worked around. Here are the most common errors I think you'll run into and what to do about each of them.

Error: No matter what I click on, I get "We're sorry, an error has occurred."

This error can happen when clicking on almost any link in the SNDS portal. Usually it takes a number of seconds where the website pauses, doing ... something ... and then after a bit, all you get back is this generic error message.

There's not much you can do about this one, other than to take a break and try again a bit later. This happens to all users of SNDS from time to time, and it seems to have nothing to do with anything on the user end. It usually corrects itself and starts working again in a few minutes -- but sometimes it can take a number of hours, and you might even want to wait a day or two before trying again, if at all possible.

The important thing to remember is, it's not just you, and you didn't do anything wrong. This error message provides a good excuse to go on a Dunkin' or Starbucks run to get yourself a caffeinated beverage.

Error: "Unknown authorization request ID."

I run into this one often when approving SNDS authorization requests. I'm less sure if other folks run into this one as much as I do, but I'll share this, just in case. There seems to be some sort of glitch around the SNDS authorization approval request. Sometimes when clicking on the approval link ("If you are (person), click here to confirm that you can receive messages at the selected address") in the email message, you receive this "Unknown authorization request ID" error, instead of seeing the usual confirmation that this particular SNDS approval request has been processed successfully.

If you run into this error, go to the SNDS Access Control screen, and search for the IP address in question. You'll probably find that the status for that user for that IP address is "Normal" -- meaning your authorization approval worked just fine, in spite of the error message.

If it still has a status of "Pending initial verification," then you may want to click the "Request reauthorization" link to generate a new authorization email, and try again. (Note that you cannot modify the recipient address when generating a new authorization email -- it will go only to the same address that received the initial request.)

Error: I can't select my desired date range on the SNDS "View Data" page -- the date I want is greyed out.

This can happen when you're trying to select a date more than 60 days ago. The SNDS portal only makes data available for 60 days. Anything older than 60 days is gone, not saved or available any longer from SNDS. If you want to trend out SNDS data for longer than 60 days, consider working with a Deliverability tools vendor -- many of them can be configured to automatically import SNDS data into their own reporting and analysis platform.

Error: "Error: no data for the specified IP."

This means that the SNDS portal has no data to display for that date, for that IP address. Sometimes that is expected, because SNDS data is not displayed on days when a given IP address sends less than 100 email messages to Microsoft OLC ( consumer aka Hotmail) domains.

But also, sometimes, the update process used by Microsoft will perhaps crash and recent data will not be loaded into SNDS as expected. How you can you tell? Click on the "view data" page and look at the list of data below. What is the last date range listed? Sometimes you'll notice that there's no SNDS data showing for the past 3-4 days for any of your IP addresses, even if you know that you're sending a significant amount of email. If that's the case, then it's a Microsoft issue -- nothing you can fix on your end. This happens perhaps a few times a year, and multiple senders usually notify Microsoft of the outage, so you don't have to. (As of this posting, this has happened a couple of times in the past couple of months-- most recently, a couple of weeks ago. Microsoft was able to restore the missing data after 3-4 days.)

If you want to ask around to make sure that it's a global issue with SNDS data, the Mailop list is a good place to do that. (And not a bad thing to signup for overall -- sometimes there is noise and a few people with uselessly strong opinions, but there are a lot of good people there, too, and it's a useful forum for discussion of operational email issues like, "is SNDS down for everyone or just me," among other things.)

(Side note: If you do decide to join and participate in the Mailop list, please be calm, professional and restrained in your communication there. Posts are publicly archived, and you don't want a potential future employer to be upset with something you may have said in the past, in the heat of an argument or when frustrated over some other company's handling of spam issues. Be better than the angry idiots. Post like your mom, dad, child or priest is watching.)

Other Errors and Frequently Asked Questions

Did I miss any other common SNDS error messages? If so, let me know and I'll add them to this post.

Also, don't forget, Microsoft publishes their own SNDS FAQ here. It's definitely something that all senders should bookmark for future reference.

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