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Why A Free Email Checker Won’t Keep Your List Clean

Mar 15, 2022   |   3 min read

Knowledge Center  ❯   Blog

Are you looking for a free email checker? If so, you’re not alone. According to Google’s Keyword Planner, the phrase “email checker” generates over 27,000 monthly searches. By comparison, there are only 18,100 monthly searches for the search term “email marketing”.

That’s great, right? On the bright side, marketer’s hearts are in the right place.

They want to find out if the email addresses in their database are safe and able to accept mail. Nothing wrong with that.

Where the Average Email Checker Falls Short

But just because an email address is valid, doesn’t mean it’s safe to message. Email hygiene runs much deeper than that and the typical email checker doesn’t provide the appropriate level of sophistication required to label an email address “clean” or “dirty”.

Marketers want to know if an email address is “good” or “clean” and it’s likely what they find here won’t give them a definitive answer. That’s because most email checker sites only perform a “ping” or SMTP check.

What’s wrong with that?

If your email checker only provides a ping, that’s a problem. Email pinging provides a shallow analysis of an email addresses and is unreliable on its own. The process involves taking each email address on your list and:

  1. Essentially knocking on the door of the ISPs (e.g. Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft for Hotmail, etc.),
  2. Asking if an email address belongs to one of their customers, and then
  3. Walking away without sending through your message.

The Perils of Pinging & the Free Email Checker

Solutions that appear too good to be true never are. Relying solely on an email checker or a ping could leave you in worse shape than you were when you started out.

That’s because the information returned is wrong half of the time. Even worse, there’s no way to know which 50% is wrong! If you base your “clean or dirty” decision solely on a ping, you’ll end up purging good email addresses from your file while adding some dangerous ones.

In addition to doing a poor job at gauging whether an email is valid, pinging also misses the mark in other ways because it doesn’t:

1. Detect spamtraps, honeypots, and other deliverable but damaging email addresses

Without this quality check in place, you’ll end up sending to toxic addresses that can hinder your deliverability and potentially sink your entire email program.

2. Identify bogus and disposable email addresses or those belonging to frequent spam complainers.

These addresses cost you money and engagement opportunities and put your sender reputation at risk. Having too many of these in your list is a prime indicator of problems with your acquisition processes.

3. Provide clear visibility into B2B domains.

Many businesses use catch-all email servers that return a valid response whether the address exists or not. This makes it impossible for the average email checker to tell you if the business email on your list is deliverable and or/dangerous.

4. Suggest corrections for common typos.

We’re seeing a surge in mis-typed email addresses lately. Some of these typos correspond with actual subscribers that want to hear from you. Without a correction engine in place you’ll miss out on reaching them.

Email Checker Alternatives

Here’s a 3-step alternative to a free email checker that you can use today to gauge the quality of your email list.

1. Scan a list with a free service to see if you have issues.

Tools like Free List Check will scan your list for a wide variety of threats, not just bouncing email addresses. Use one to detect issues stemming from bogus and disposable addresses, spamtraps, and other deliverability threats.

2. Audit your collection processes

A good free email hygiene tool will flag the bad email addresses in your file, so that you can in turn go upstream to identify risky acquisition sources. Once you know where the problem data is coming from, you can either shut down that source entirely or take steps to improve the quality it yields.

3. Hire a professional to help fortify your collection points

If your free scan detects major problems, especially related to some of your bigger acquisition sources, don’t go it alone! The best practice here is to use a real-time email validation, correction, and hygiene solution to ensure that every email address you collect is problem-free and 100% deliverable. You can use this on your website, in your stores, call centers, etc. This will provide a level of hygiene that no free email checker can.


If you’re a digital marketer that relies on email to open doors and drive revenue, making sure that every email address in your list is safe and deliverable is an absolute must. The average free email checker won’t get you there, but these tips will.

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