Un-blacklisted email accounts for cheap?
February 18, 2016 6:45 PM   Subscribe

We have personal email accounts on our own domain and send maybe 1000 purely noncommercial, non-bulk emails in a month. Sometimes these get blocked by various blacklists, because we're sharing our SMTP servers with everyone else on 1&1. Help me find mail hosting that will not get blocked but also is cheaper than getting a dedicated virtual server for $13 a month. Assume that I can install and setup any reasonable Linux distro, if necessary, but a turnkey solution is preferred.

I understand that nothing's perfect, and it's impossible to assure mail delivery in every possible scenario, but the 1&1 IPs are clearly used for spam from time to time. So either I need my own IP, or a host that is super strict about spam. A rate limit of 5 messages an hour would be plenty.
posted by wnissen to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Use gmail as a solution.
posted by kadmilos at 7:01 PM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Google Apps w/Gmail.
posted by My Dad at 7:09 PM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

A Digital Ocean mini machine for $5 / month with debian running postfix will do all you need.

I do this for my personal mail, and once you setup, send messages from a yahoo, a google, and an outlook account you create, and send mail back from the machine, so in the hive brain of each of those mail services their first impression of you and your server is positive.
posted by nickggully at 7:37 PM on February 18, 2016

Use http://mailchimp.com/. You need a specialized service for what you want to do.

Sometimes these get blocked by various blacklists, because we're sharing our SMTP servers with everyone else on 1&1.

Make sure your email server's IP points to your mail domain in your PTR record. If it doesn't, many mail servers will ban emails from your IP or domain.
posted by GiveUpNed at 8:06 PM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The IPs on any of the VPS or hosting providers are either blacklisted now, or will be at some point in the near-ish future. Believe me, I have intimate familiarity with this. There's so much spam coming from 1&1, Digital Ocean, AWS, Azure, etc. that if you care about deliverability, it's hopeless. Either give up and use a reputable email (not hosting) provider, or get your own netblocks and carefully nurture the reputation. If nurturing IP reputation is what you want to spend your energy doing, be my guest. Otherwise, delegate it to a company that specializes in it...
posted by primethyme at 8:24 PM on February 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Is the blacklisting really done by blocks? So even if I have my one perfect static IP, someone else in my subnet could screw it all up?
posted by wnissen at 9:39 PM on February 18, 2016

IP reputation at the larger mail providers like Gmail is... complicated. There absolutely are components of reputation that are applied to entire providers or netblocks as opposed to individual IPs. Having an IP in a block that is surrounded by bad actors is not as bad as sharing an IP with a bad actor, but it will absolutely impact your deliverability.
posted by primethyme at 9:57 PM on February 18, 2016

As you want non-bulk emails, SendGrid does what you want, is really easy to configure, and is free for up to 12,000 emails per month.

I've used it for transactional emails and it has been solid.
posted by ssg at 11:31 PM on February 18, 2016

If I'm understanding correctly -- you have multiple user email accounts on your custom domain, and the *combined* sending volume is approx. 1,000 personal messages per month? If that's the case, Fastmail is often recommended here on AskMe as an email host. The pricing will depend on what features you want. Check out the Family or Business options, and you can mix/match various account types to generate a quote online. Here's more info on their sending limits (scroll down).

If you have at least 5 email user accounts and want to be able to access 24/7 live support, look into Rackspace's regular email hosting which is $2 per mailbox account per month (5 mailboxes minimum).

I've had good experiences with both Fastmail and Rackspace; overall, I prefer Fastmail, personally.
Fastmail has some nifty features that are pretty useful for advanced/technical users, and even non-technical users. I also really like the level of technical info they provide on their status page and their blog (e.g. if there was a major problem, then they'll talk in detail about it, and what they did to address it). Rackspace has a status page that includes their email services, but it's not as granular or as detailed as I would like sometimes.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 11:57 PM on February 18, 2016

What primethyme said: if you want consistent deliverability, it's reaching the point where it's consolidated around a dozen large providers that whitelist one another because everybody in that group runs the same policies and actively patrols their servers. Beyond that, you're gambling. I wouldn't put much hope in the long-term viability of on-demand VPSes (DigitalOcean, Linode, etc.) for email even with DKIM and SPF and PTR ticking all the boxes. (Senderbase shows reputation in the /24 around a particular IP.)

So: Fastmail, Tuffmail, Sendgrid, or you could accept being swallowed by the beast and go with Google Apps.
posted by holgate at 6:20 AM on February 19, 2016

Nthing using a dedicated email sending service for email of that volume, it should run you around $10/mo for under 25k messages a month. I'm the lead infrastructure engineer for an email security startup and we use Mandrill, which is Mailchimp's transactional email service.
posted by signalnine at 2:33 PM on February 19, 2016

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