Any suggestions for my email problems?
February 22, 2005 7:02 AM   Subscribe

My company has been having some email problems. Any suggestions?

We're currently using a cheap web provider that, for my personal site in the past, has been very reliable with both its hosting and its email delivery. Since I signed my company up late last summer, email receipt time has slowed dramatically compared to my previous experience. There have been instances where an email sent to us through this provider won't reach us for eight hours or more, which is unacceptable in my deadline-intensive business.

I'm at the point where I'd be willing to switch web providers if I could be guaranteed that the email will work promptly, but I'd hate to switch only to have the same experience we're currently having.

The crux of the problem is that I don't know who to point the finger at... our local ISP, which is notoriously bad, or the web host. I emailed support at the web host who blamed it on "internet traffic," but I've never experienced email routinely taking half a working day to get to its recipient before.
posted by MegoSteve to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
 
Your email provider should provide a web-based interface to your POP/IMAP servers. Check your email there alongside your desktop client for a few days. If the gaps show up in both places, it's your email provider. If messages are in webmail but not your desktop, then it's your ISP.
posted by mkultra at 7:08 AM on February 22, 2005


If they don't provide a web based email client, use Mail2Web which can act as a web front for your POP mail.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 7:10 AM on February 22, 2005


So send mail to yourself and check the headers.

The Received header will show when the web host received the email.

As far as ruling out your ISP, if you can connect to mail.yourdomain.tld (or whatever your POP or IMAP server, through the hosting company, is), then it's not likely the ISP's fault.

If you can't connect, it might be their fault.

Here's an example header -- from a bounced reply to a craigslist posting:

I've highlighted the Received headers, elided my own address, and added some explication. As you can tell from the timestamps, the latest Received header comes first, the later ones are older.
Received: (qmail 18794 invoked by uid 507); 21 Feb 2005 00:46:07 -0000
It's bouncing around in Craig's machine

Delivered-To: anon-55958204@craigslist.org

Received: (qmail 18788 invoked from network); 21 Feb 2005 00:46:07 -0000
It's bouncing around in Craig's machine

Received: from mail2.elided.com (nnn.nnn.nnn.nnn)
by mx2.craigslist.org with SMTP; 21 Feb 2005 00:46:07 -0000

This is when craigslist got it from my hosting provider

Received: from unknown (HELO ?192.168.1.102?) (orthogonality@nothere.tld@nnn.nnn.nnn.nnn)
by mail2.elided.com with SMTP; 21 Feb 2005 00:46:04 -0000

This is when my hosting provider got it from my computer


Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2005 19:53:08 -0500
From: <orthogonality@nothere.tld>
So assuming everyone's clock is synchronized, my host sent it to craigslist about three seconds after they got it from me.

Again, this is from a bounce, so craigslist is helpfully showing me the headers it got. Of course, it showed me in an email, so there were also headers on that email, rom craigslist to me:
Received: (qmail 13279 invoked by uid 399); 21 Feb 2005 00:46:08 -0000
My host's computer is passing it around

Received: from unknown (HELO weasel.craigslist.org) (130.94.251.49)
by mail2.elided.com with SMTP; 21 Feb 2005 00:46:08 -0000

My host's got it from craigslist

Received: (qmail 1634 invoked from network); 21 Feb 2005 00:46:07 -0000
Received: from localhost (HELO localhost.localdomain) (127.0.0.1)
by localhost with SMTP; 21 Feb 2005 00:46:07 -0000

craigslist is passing it around internally
Total round trip was about four seconds -- and then as much as another five minutes for my computer to connect to my host's server. But that's because my email client is only set to check every five minutes.

So check your headers, and see where the delay is.
posted by orthogonality at 7:30 AM on February 22, 2005


Your email provider should provide a web-based interface to your POP/IMAP servers. Check your email there alongside your desktop client for a few days. If the gaps show up in both places, it's your email provider. If messages are in webmail but not your desktop, then it's your ISP.

Interesting advice here, but I honestly doubt you're getting that bad of lag from your hosting provider. You should be connecting directly to your POP server on the hosting side -- as soon as the mail shows up in your webmail, it should be on the POP server, and your computer should be able to retrieve it -- the only lag for POP I can imagine being introduced by your ISP would apply equally to you checking
your mail via webmail. Basically, what orthogonality said:

as far as ruling out your ISP, if you can connect to mail.yourdomain.tld (or whatever your POP or IMAP server, through the hosting company, is), then it's not likely the ISP's fault.

If you can't connect, it might be their fault.



Here's t he main thing though:

We're currently using a cheap web provider that, for my personal site in the past, has been very reliable with both its hosting and its email delivery.

I have to say, if you can afford not to, don't. Good web hosting can be had for as little as $15 a month. *Great* web hosting can be had for $50 a month (depending on your needs, obviously -- here I'm talking about just running a simple webpage with email and the standard trimmings). If you're going with an inexpensive webhost, you run the risk of losing business/data because they're technically inept (which *A LOT* of these bargain basement webhosts are -- check out the forums in webhostingtalk.com sometime -- a lot of these guys know NOTHING about running servers, and are either subleasing space from another provider, or have just bought the equivalent of a webhosting kit from a retailer). I know it's *possible* to get webhosting for a couple of bucks a month, but the savings is really *not worth it* in the long run.

I'm at the point where I'd be willing to switch web providers if I could be guaranteed that the email will work promptly, but I'd hate to switch only to have the same experience we're currently having.

i would definitely do this. Go with someone who you can get ahold of on the phone -- so you know that hosting is their main business -- and then switch. Next time you have a problem with email, you can just call your host and they should be able to tell you what's happening. Expect to pay more than you would pay for a personal website for this (because you *need* that extra support for when things don't work right).
posted by fishfucker at 10:34 AM on February 22, 2005


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