Friday, March 10, 2006

You’re as likely to lose an email as the checked bag on your next flight

More email is lost than I thought. The loss rate is at least 0.7%, or 7 messages in 1,000 [1]. If you send ten messages a day, this means 25 will go astray in a year.

For comparison, airlines operate with 3 to 10 lost baggage reports per 1,000 passengers on major airlines [2].

As for the old-fashioned way of doing it: the British Royal Mail has admitted that more than 14 million letters and parcels were lost, stolen, damaged or tampered in 2005, out of 22 billion items handled. That’s 0.06% -- ten times better than email!


[1] Research cited in Sharad Agarwal, Venkata N. Padmanabhan and Dilip A. Joseph, SureMail: Notification Overlay for Email Reliability: “Afergan and Beverly [4] report that some mail servers exhibit a silent loss rate of over 5% while Lang and Moors [8, 10] report an overall silent loss rate of 0.69%.”

[2], Grumbling grows among airline passengers, 17 Feb 2006 citing US DoT statistics. The loss rate in terms of bags checked will be different, but hard to know how: increasing numbers of people don't check luggage, reducing baggage/passengers; but those who do check luggage usually check multiple pieces.

[3] BBC News, Royal Mail fined for missing post, 10 Feb 2006

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