Like many users, I have several e-mail accounts. In fact, I have three with Gmail alone.
A couple days ago, I noticed that one of the accounts hadn't received any new mail for about 24 hours. That seemed very strange, as the flow of messages to that address had always been strong and steady.
I figured it was probably a temporary glitch at Google's end (there was a Gmail outage just a couple months ago), so I waited another day to see if it would clear up on its own.
Needless to say, it didn't. I checked Google's App Status Dashboard for any known issues, but it was green across the board. I also Googled "Gmail outage" (and narrowed the search to the last 24 hours) and came up empty. Clearly, the problem was at my end.
But what was the problem? My two other Gmail accounts were chugging along just fine. But this one inbox sat empty, as though someone had simply turned off the mail spigot.
As it turned out, the flow wasn't turned off, but rather redirected. See, when I checked Gmail's Spam filter, I discovered that junk mail was still arriving. It stood to reason that "good" mail was still arriving as well, just not landing in my inbox.
A quick visit to Gmail's Settings, Filters proved my theory: a filter was rerouting all new mail to Gmail's All Mail "folder" (sometimes known as the Archive), effectively bypassing the Inbox.
In fact, there were two identical filters doing this. How did they get there? I have no idea. I certainly didn't create them. But there they were. I quickly deleted both, and presto: problem solved. (I did have to visit All Mail, select my "missing" messages, and move them to my Inbox so I could process them normally.)
If you want to learn more about problems like this and potential resolutions, Google has a help page devoted to incoming Gmail messages that don't arrive.
In the meantime, if you ever encounter a similar inbox interruption, check Gmail's filters. You might just find the mysterious culprit.
Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at firstname.lastname@example.org, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.