We had a mailing go out to 231 recipients, and it completed within the same minute it started. Looking at the report today, it shows that only 131 were successfully sent, the others all show as "unknown." I looked into /var/log/mail.log and can confirm that I don't see any lines of trying to send mail for those contacts that show as unknown. I also see records in the civicrm_mailing_event_queue table for what I believe are the same contact_ids that are unknown. Not sure that is related.

CiviCRM is set up to use the standard php mail() function.

I'm at a loss of even where to look for the issue. It just seems like CiviMail stop trying to send or something. Is there somewhere I can look to find some error? Some kind of limit we reached?

mail status

  • What is your set up. Could it be some limit by a hosting provider?
    – Mick Kahn
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 9:21
  • We're on a Linode VPS with Ubuntu 16.04.4. I don't know of any limits for mail that we've put in ourselves. And what's funny is it looks like it's CiviCRM itself that isn't even trying to send it, as there is no reference to the mail in /var/log/mail.log. Is there some type of default limit in ubuntu? More importantly, wouldn't Civi at least try and then send out an error?
    – Paul B
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 12:33
  • It could be a limit in the php.ini or other server settings regarding how long a script can run. By default, those settings tend to be quite low. I don't think you would see an error, as it's expected that you'd just run the script again to finish it off. Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 2:46
  • That is an interesting thing to look at. Ours was set to 150 seconds (2.5 minutes), which I have doubled. However, Civi tells me it completed in less than 1 minute. So I still have a feeling the issue might be with Civi itself.
    – Paul B
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 12:51
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    I think your next steps to escalate this are to seek professional assistance (guessing you don't have any at present, or you'd already be escalating to them?) or to ask for community support on chat. I'll add some pointers in an answer because I can format better there! Commented May 1, 2018 at 10:56

2 Answers 2


Some pointers on how to debug this a bit further. Links are to the CiviCRM demo site - visit http://dmaster.demo.civicrm.org/ and log in. (WordPress / Joomla URLs will differ.)

Check output of "Send Scheduled Mailings" scheduled task.

This is the task which delivers CiviMail messages. It's executed from cron regularly, and there's a log visible at the URL above ("View job log" for "Send scheduled mailings"). Check if there's any output there. (If there are no job log messages, it's not getting executed!)

Check your cron setup

CiviCRM and CiviMail depend on cron - scheduled jobs triggered by the system. A single CiviMail may take several cron runs to deliver all the emails. This task should be executed by the system somehow. The task will be run in the console and may generate output (success or failure). It should be executed as the webserver user for filesystem permissions, and ideally set up to capture output so you can investigate if it's not working as expected.

Investigate your mailserver logs

Use tail / grep etc to observe the mailserver logs and see which addresses get messages queued for them. It sounds like you've already established that the missing messages never get there, but worth including in this list.

Get support

  • This isn't really an answer, but comment formatting would have been painful. Commented May 1, 2018 at 11:07
  • It answers "Is there somewhere I can look to find some error?"
    – petednz - fuzion
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 21:53

I'd also recommend looking at from a slightly naive point of view - i.e. what was special about this mailing from your other mailings? and secondly, see if you can identify which of the recipients didn't get it and find out if there is a pattern. You can do this with fancy advanced search stuff, for example.

Another useful log that Chris didn't mention is the CiviCRM error log, which sometimes has useful entries. Actually, I'd look in this first (either manually or using https://civicrm.org/extensions/civicrm-log-viewer).

I agree it does look to be an unexpected error that CiviCRM isn't handling properly.

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