I need a recommendation for a reliable hosting service- php based.
November 22, 2006 10:13 AM   Subscribe

We have gone from Earthlink to Dreamhost to MediaTemple and we can't find a reliable email host. The website hosting generally is fine, but email downtime is killing our company. MediaTemple has been horrible since we switched to the Grid Server. Maybe we just need an email host. So- who has a good recommendation for a host that has given you worry-free uptime? Any I don't want responses from anyone who has only been with their host a day, a week or a month. Long term please.
posted by Chuck Cheeze to Computers & Internet (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: P.S. We use Outlook and entourage via POP/SMTP.
posted by Chuck Cheeze at 10:14 AM on November 22, 2006

I've used Speakeasy for years and the only time I had a problem was when my neighbor moved out and the local telco came by and cut my DSL line (that was a nightmare to get fixed). But not having used any that you mention, I can't compare them. Also, I only pop from Speakeasy once a day or so at home. I do know that Speakeasy support has be absolutely great. As they say on ebay, "AAAA+++++ WOULD USE AGAIN!1!!!1!"
posted by chairface at 10:22 AM on November 22, 2006

Google Apps for Domains. You can download via POP. But I think that the gmail interface is the best e-mail interface there is (including desktop software).
posted by winston at 10:22 AM on November 22, 2006

I have been using Pair for ... 7 years now on multiple domains, first personal, then hosting my business mail and static files. If there was ever downtime, I never noticed. I send and receive lots of email, have it going to Blackberrys, webmail, IMAP and POP clients, etc etc. They gave me 2000 mailboxes on the ~$30/mo account (which also includes web hosting, remote login, and scripting services.) I highly recommend them.
posted by neustile at 10:31 AM on November 22, 2006

Is Google's POP service more reliable than their web service? Because I get 'we're sorry we could not complete that operation, please again in a moment' at least a couple of times a week. I don't lose any email to those mini-problems, but it's aggravating as hell when I'm trying to send something important and can't because Google's decided to take a nap.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:57 AM on November 22, 2006

via my past employment at a small nonprofit where we had no IT deptartment (and no server) (also used MS Outlook), I found Mi8 for email hosting, which has r0x0rd my s0x0rs for the past two years...with almost no substantial downtime that I can remember.

I think it's like $7.99 per mailbox per month, with free spam control, decent storage, and a great interface for MS Exchange Server.

Oh look, a 99.9% uptime guarantee!
posted by naxosaxur at 11:02 AM on November 22, 2006

I think you simply need a backup MX. This is a setting you put in your DNS, so that if your primary mailserver is down, your mail is stored there and then released to your mailserver when it comes back up.

These are easy to find. One good option is to use the Katharion anti-spam service and purchase the optional backup MX. Another good (and cheaper) option is zoneedit.com.

You will never lose email if you have one or more backup MX servers defined. This is much easier than finding a provider who never has mailserver problems.

I manage a multi-million dollar hosting service. I really do know this stuff. You will never get perfect uptime on a single-source mailserver. The backup MX is a much better and easy path to serve the same end.
posted by Invoke at 11:12 AM on November 22, 2006

I've had Pair for my personal mail for years. They've been great, but I haven't been particularly demanding. We used Mi8 for e-mail hosting at a ~500 person company I worked for and their hosted exchange seemed quite solid.
posted by Good Brain at 11:15 AM on November 22, 2006

Since no one else has asked, in what way are e-mail problems hurting you? Is it communication with outside clients & suppliers, communication within your organization, or both?

If it's communication with the outside, then a backup MX might help a little, but there will still be delays. If it's your internal communication, then a backup MX isn't going to help much if the pop & primary MX is down then e-mail doesn't flow within the organization, which definitely sucks.
posted by Good Brain at 11:23 AM on November 22, 2006

Response by poster: Good point Good Brain. Put it this way- my boss is very demanding and always on email, he relies on it from the office, home, in his car while driving (yes I know) on his Cingular card- on the plane, everywhere. If its down he gets really pissed. A backup server would help, but not fix the problem. What I am aiming for here is as close to ZERO downtime as possible.

At my old company we used Verio for web hosting and I can't ever rememebr downtime. Any naysayers? Maybe one of their Virtual Private Servers would be great for total control of the hosting environment.
posted by Chuck Cheeze at 11:38 AM on November 22, 2006

I'd dispute that a VPS gives you total control over the hosting environment, and even if it did, that doesn't necessarily translate into providing POP service at the level your boss demands.

These days, with surging spam volumes, providing good e-mail service is probably not something worth doing in-house unless you have a hell of a lot of mailboxes or you use a good reliable service at the front end to filter spam.
posted by Good Brain at 12:25 PM on November 22, 2006

I've also used Pair for my sites for years (4+, I think) with no complaints. My clients seem happy with them, too.
posted by belladonna at 1:56 PM on November 22, 2006

Pair have got lots of fans - rightly so. Though I haven't used them extensively myself, my company has worked with them for many years, and their reputation is amazing.

Personally, I've bounced between webhosts (and work in the industry) and I've trusted my mail to one mail-only company for the past 3 years: www.runbox.com
Run by a team of dedicated Norwegians, they do email and do it well.

The web-interface is a little weak (especially compared to Gmail etc.) but the service, reliability and uptime is excellent.
posted by nafrance at 2:04 PM on November 22, 2006

Given that requirement to avoid downtime at all costs, I'd probably go with someone like Runbox or a VPS from a top-flight provider, and possibly put a solid spam service in front of it. Something like Katharion or Postini. Plus, in all cases add a backup MX to the mix.

I know that email is the biggest thorn in my side as a manager of hosting products. People expect and demand incredible uptime for tiny (or no) money. I actually get many customer complaints if the mail queue gets over a minute or so. I think that is a stunningly high expectation for a service that is not designed to be instantaneous, and which has no commonly accepted SLA standard. Nonetheless, people expect their cheap shared hosting email to be like a telco, with six nines uptime and instant delivery.

Really, if you want that, you are going to have to pay for it. I think the prices at Runbox are about right for that level of service.
posted by Invoke at 2:57 PM on November 22, 2006

Seconding Mi8. Although we provide web hosting to clients, email is something I don't want to deal with: mainly for the reasons outlined by Invoke. Don't bother doing it yourself when someone else will do it better for not much money. Mi8 have never let us down. I can't remember any downtime in the past 3+ years, plus their support is very responsive.
posted by blag at 8:36 PM on November 22, 2006

Another vote for Pair.com. They've been my personal host for five years, my company's host for two, and I've also used them for several clients.
posted by migurski at 8:54 PM on November 22, 2006

I got tired of lousy e-mail hosting from my web-hosts years ago. I eventually decided to open a pay account at Yahoo mail and my mail has been pretty rock solid ever since.
posted by punkrockrat at 6:59 AM on November 24, 2006

About pair.com: I moved a company *off* of them because they seemed to have really awful bad with spam. Mail was being delayed for 10-16 hours, and when I bugged their support folks about it, the response was "Yeah, we're getting a lot of spam. Nothing we can do about it."

And I dunno about adding a backup/secondary MX. Modern MTAs will simply requeue the mail, and secondary MX hosts are more frequently targetted by spammers. The current recommendation from the anti-spam community is usually to ditch the idea of a secondary MX. I ditched mine years ago and the only thing I noticed was a significant reduction in the amount of spam that I received.

Whatever you do, put a good anti-spam solution in front of it and for the love of god, don't let anyone set up a "catch all" address.
posted by drstein at 7:06 PM on November 24, 2006

I don't know when you had your experience with pair, drstein, but about a year ago they rolled out a new e-mail infrastructure that has a farm of servers dedicated to dealing with spam, which gives them more latitude for managing capacity issues due to spam. I've been happy with the service.

That said, now that I'm looking for a better e-mail hosting arrangement than the virtual private server we are using for our webhosting (I'm tired of spending time babysitting the increacingly unreliable mailservice), pair.com is not at the top of my list. I think someone with more of a focus on e-mail, and more mailboxes under management, is in a better position to deal with surging spam volumes.
posted by Good Brain at 9:44 AM on November 27, 2006

Best answer: Thanks to all contributors. I ended up finding Mosso (www.mosso.com) and their site detail was very inspiring. For $100 a month we get (what they promise) is unbeatable uptime, unlimited domains, and all standard hosting features. Their tech support has been well above what I felt I ever had with Dreamhost or MT- and they even comped me 2 months of service to cover the fact that our Comodo SSL cert won't work with thier servers, to cover the cost of buying new certs. I am EXTREMELY impressed so far and have the utmost confidence.

Thanks again.
posted by Chuck Cheeze at 10:48 PM on November 27, 2006

Chuck Cheeze: I'm in the middle of evaluating a new host for reliable email and am curious about your choice. Mosso offers an excellent guarantee, but besides a few threads on webhostingtalk.com I haven't heard much about them. If you don't mind my asking, how did you find them? And why not go with a dedicated mail host instead, if that was the main issue?
posted by SteveInMaine at 11:51 AM on November 28, 2006

Good Brain: Who are you looking at for your hosted email? I've been in touch with Mi8 and they seem to have their act together, though they are a bit pricey for what we need. I'd consider runbox, but frankly I'd feel more comfortable dealing with a mail host located in the States.
posted by SteveInMaine at 11:55 AM on November 28, 2006

I'm confused. You were looking for reliable email providers with an excellent extended track record. After hearing our recommendations, you chose a web hosting provider launched in March whose fifth google result is "Extended downtime for Mosso"? Seriously?
posted by blag at 2:21 PM on November 28, 2006

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