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Mail Sending/Receiving questions...


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TCH Friends,

 

I have two clients that are hosted with TCH and things are great since we switched over. I have one other client (serviced on what I euphemistically consider to be a deadbeat webhost) who is having mail server issues. I am asking for insight on these forums because I switched my other two clients to TCH from this other worthless host and am about ready to do the same for this client, but they are wary of having to wait for the DNS change to take effect and are worried about downtime for e-mail. Here is the situation as I understand it.

 

They send e-mail to customers and vendors that they have been doing business with for years and for about the last week about 1/3 of them never arrive, and another 1/3 of them bounce and they get 550 Error messages from the server they were sending mail to saying that the recipients are unknown. The other 1/3 or so make it ok. The same thing is happening for inbound mail, about half of what is being sent to them never arrives. I have reconfigured SpamAssassin to not discard e-mail flagged as spam but this isn't helping. The tech support at this other webhost says that they need to delete the entire site, reconfigure a fresh account, at which point I need to start fresh with all of the e-mail accounts. According to them, this will reconfigure DNS and e-mail settings.

 

First, does this sound to anyone like a sensible or viable solution or are they just wasting my time. I have asked a couple of their vendors to whitelist their domain but it doesn't seem to be helping.

 

If I have to do a full backup and re-upload the entire site I am going to go ahead and re-upload the site on a TCH server then make the DNS request over the weekend.

 

I know there are a lot of details that I cannot provide. The webhost likes to give two and three word answers to very specific questions. Can anyone give any advice here? Will a new server account fix the problem or is the problem not with my client?

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Welcome to the forums adephue :)

 

I feel for you friend. If email is a part of his business and it's not reliable he's probably losing business.

 

Here is what a 550 error means

This message indicates that the recipient specified in the RCPT command is not locally hosted on the server and relaying options prevent the message being forwarded to the recipient. To resolve this you should ensure that an address map has been associated with the desired mailbox. If you receive this message then you should use the MMC to ensure that this address has been assigned to a mailbox. This can be done in the MMC by viewing the properties of the Mailbox.

 

Usually this means that the problem may be with their ISP preventing them from sending email out over port 25 using another mail host other than the one belonging to the ISP. It's called relaying, most often used to transmit spam. I've encountered this myself. To get around it they could send email from through their ISP's mail server by configuring their mail client. TCH gets around this problem by allowing mail to be sent over port 26 but if the ISP is blocking that port the same problem will occur.

 

I am not sure why they are not receiving email unless the hosts mail server is on some black list.

 

If their tech support said to wipe the account and start over I'd do as you say and just move it to TCH or another host.

 

If they are worried about missing email during the DNS propagation they can access the TCH server and their current server by IP number instead of domain name until the propagation has completed. It will require setting up additional accounts in their email client or using web mail at one or both sites.

 

Best of luck.

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Bruce,

 

Thanks for the prompt reply. If their ISP was the problem, wouldn't all of their outgoing e-mail via relay on port 25 get rejected?

 

I am able to send and receive e-mail to the very address that bounces back to them.

 

Looking through the tech support tickets, the webhost says that 'the account is on an old server with less-than-desirable' DNS performance'. Solution: move the site to another server.

 

I guess my question is, will something like this work? Bruce, you are right, they need their e-mail and expect it to work. That webhost's performance reflects poorly on me since I developed the site for them.

 

If anyone out there can concretely say that a move to a 'better' server stands a good chance to fix the problem, their site is coming over to TCH this weekend.

 

A

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If their ISP was the problem, wouldn't all of their outgoing e-mail via relay on port 25 get rejected?
No, the servers they are sending too would determine what it considers as mail coming from a relay. So some servers may allow the messages to be delivered while others would not.

 

Looking through the tech support tickets, the webhost says that 'the account is on an old server with less-than-desirable' DNS performance'. Solution: move the site to another server.

I have no idea what this means.

 

Maybe one of the techs can answer that.

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Looking through the tech support tickets, the webhost says that 'the account is on an old server with less-than-desirable' DNS performance'. Solution: move the site to another server.

 

Without more details, I'd have to guess what they mean is some of the DNS lookups are failing, causing your mail to fail (although I'm betting there's more to it than that). A server would have to be in pretty bad shape to get to that state though.

 

If anyone out there can concretely say that a move to a 'better' server stands a good chance to fix the problem, their site is coming over to TCH this weekend.

 

I don't think anyone here could tell you that moving to a better server would absolutely fix your problem without knowing all of the details. From what you've relayed, I'd say the provider you are on doesn't really know what the problem is, so they are going to move you to a better server hoping that will fix it (which, despite not figuring out what's going on in the first place, is not necessarily a bad decision if it gets your problem fixed quicker).

 

However, if you have to deal with being moved anyway, and you are already planning on moving them to TCH, then one move is generally better than two. And if DNS performance or mail server configuration is indeed the problem, then that move to here would fix it.

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I'd say the provider you are on doesn't really know what the problem is, so they are going to move you to a better server hoping that will fix it (which, despite not figuring out what's going on in the first place, is not necessarily a bad decision if it gets your problem fixed quicker).

 

Although Mike's thinking is right I just wanted to remind everyone that "deadbeat hosts" are not like TCH. A site move to another server may turn into a week long nightmare if the guys are incompetent, swamped with work, or any of a dozen other things that separates TCH from the rest. It may not actually turn out to be faster and certainly not better in the long run. :) Besides, if it is a DNS problem doesn't it stand to reason that another server would likely have the same problem?

 

Remember, if you put the other site on an account here and process the DNS change, there would be no down time - the visitors would just suddenly show up here instead of there depending on when their ISP gets the change. Then, when you're confident everyone is coming here (up to 72 hours) you can drop the other site. The only down side to this would be if they have a forum there where posts would get split and that they have to check email in both places for 3 days.

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As it were, I decided to move the site over to TCH. I did this last Saturday, 04 November 2006. I immediately changed DNS entries to TCH nameservers. Right now it is Thursday, 09 November 2006, seven full days after the DNS change. Here is where I am at:

 

I am using Verizon DSL. When I connect to the mail server through outlook and send myself a test message, the headers resolve back to TCH. I also made a subtle change to the homepage, I can see the change.

 

My client is in Mass using Comcast. When they connect to the mail server through Outlook and send a message to me, or anyone else for that matter, the headers resolve back to the old webhost. When they look at the website, they cannot see the subtle changes I made. The are looking at the site still on the old webhost.

 

So... is the issue just dns propagation? Seven days seems like an awful long time. I also have another domain parked (which is with a different registrar). When I made DNS changes for the other domain, the changes were nearly instantaneous. Did I mention that the registrar for the main domain is owned by the deadbeat host that I switched away from in the first place?

 

I'm not sure where to go from here because my client still has choppy e-mail service (I'm convinced because it is still hitting up the old site's mail server). All of my test whose headers resolve back to TCH have worked flawlessly.

 

Thoughts?

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