Home : Internet Terms : Bounce Definition


The term "bounce" has several different IT related meanings, yet none of them include bouncy balls. The most common definition of bounce used in the computer world refers to e-mail messages.

1. Returning E-mail

When you send an e-mail message to another person, the mail server processes the message and delivers it to the appropriate user's mailbox. For example, if you send a message to "mrman@mail.com," the mail.com server looks for a user named "mrman" to deliver the message to. If the user does not exist, the mail server may bounce the message back to the sender, saying "Sorry, that user does not exist." These messages often come from "Mail Delivery Subsystem" and have a subject line that reads "Returned mail: see transcript for details."

If you receive a bounced message, you may want to check the e-mail address you sent the message to and make sure it was typed correctly. If the address is correct, it may help to read the body of the bounced message for more details. The transcript may say something like "User quota over limit," which means the recipient has reached his or her e-mail quota and must delete some messages and/or attachments in order to receive new mail. If this is the case, you may want to call the person or use an alternative e-mail address to let the person know he or she has some Inbox maintenance to do.

2. Restarting a Computer

The term "bounce" can also describe the process of rebooting or restarting a computer. For example, a workstation may need to be bounced after installing new software. Similarly, a Web server may be bounced if websites hosted on the server are not responding correctly.

3. Exporting Audio

"Bounce" can also describe the process of exporting several tracks in an audio mix to one mono track or two stereo tracks. This helps consolidate audio tracks after they have been mixed. Bouncing audio tracks limits the need for processing power since the computer only has to process one track instead of all the tracks individually. Digital Performer is the primary audio software program that uses bouncing to export audio.

4. Hiding a Network Connection

Finally, "bouncing" can also be used in networking to describe a method of hiding the source of a user's network connection. This type of bouncing is often abbreviated "BNC." Someone who bounces his network connection is called a "bouncer," though this is not the same person who checks your ID at the bar.

Updated: October 18, 2007

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