I've been using 1&1 hosting for my email for the last 18 months.
Recently, emails to AOL users, and some other email clients, have been getting bounced back to us.
I contacted 1&1, and they said 1) I had a unique IP address for email, and 2) I would have to take up the issue with AOL myself.
I contacted AOL's Postmaster Hotline last week. Turns out I had a temporary (RLY:B1) block on my email server. The block had been triggered by AOL users blocking as spam emails from my email IP address.
AOL had me set up a feedback loop to see which messages their users were blocking as spam.
In 3 days, I've recieved 1,734 feedback emails, meaning that 1,734 emails had been sent to AOL users from the "unique" IP address 1&1 had given me.
1) Is it reasonable to expect a unique email IP address from a shared hosting provider?
2) Has anyone else had this problem with 1&1?
3) Will I have this problem with any shared hosting provider I turn to?
I'm (obviously) tempted to jump ship from 1&1, but I'm not sure if the next shared hosting provider will be any better.
First thing you need to understand is that the IP you have is likely not the same one that is sending email for the server.
Exim for example without patches sold to make it switch IPs (spammer patches) per email then all email is sent via 1 IP. Someone on the server completely unrelated to you could be spamming AOL and could get the entire server blocked.
Usually smaller hosting companies (if they have a clue) are better about this as they catch it much faster and will work faster to get the server unblocked.
It's not entirely 1&1's fault here. AOL's spam system is simply overly easy to use, causing users to report spam incorrectly. AOL's system also monitors their mail servers, and if a certain number of messages (I swear that it has to be less than 20) that are alike are sent to users on their network, the server is also blocked.
TotalChoice hosting recently blocked the cPanel forward script from forwarding to any AOL Email Addresses as they're tired of dealing with the spam problem, and from talking to others, I believe that there are several other large hosting companies about to follow in their footsteps.
I understand it is common for several clients to send emails from the same IP address.
In fact, I suggested this to 1&1 as the source of the problem, other users sending spam from the same IP address. What is frustrating is that 1&1 support stated point blank that this was not the problem, that I had a unique IP address for email, that if I was getting blocked, it was because of spam I was sending.
That's where the 1700+ spam messages in three days becomes annoying, because there are obviously more users than just me using that IP.
Thanks for your comments. I am aware that email IP's are different from website IP's. 1&1 supplied a number that was supposed to be my email IP, and AOL ran a reverse DNS lookup on a test email I sent, and it came out as one of the two IP's I'd been given.
It sounds like a smaller provider would do a better job of staying on top of spam complaints.
Also, I'm sure AOL is pretty tight about their spam blocking. That doesn't make things any easier.
I agree with inogenius. It does seem too easy/tempting to hit that spam button. I haven't used AOL mail, but Yahoo seems the same way. As a user, I might get an ad e-mail from Home Depot. Is it spam? Not really, as I probably didn't uncheck the opt-in box (which I consider my own fault, since they make it pretty clear). Is it something I could probably click the UNSUBSCRIBE link for and be reasonably assured they wouldn't abuse it like most spammers do? Probably.
However, I can see it quite easy for most users who don't know what harm it can cause to click the "SPAM" button for any e-mail they're not interested in. Perhaps it was their fault, but they don't understand how it can affect others. Plus, they're taught to fear the "unsubscribe" link on most spam.
On my Yahoo account, I get messages from Experts Exchange put in the spam folder all the time, messages I DO want to read. I constantly mark mail from them that ends up in my SPAM folder as "not spam," but it doesn't seem to be enough to keep it ending up there.
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I've been using 1and1 email server for my domain name for the last few month, and I have to say their email SUCK ***. I can't retrive my emails on average 2 hours a day using IMAP protocol everyday, and their antispam solution barely even works. I've setup forwarding of my 1and1 emails to gmail account and is much happeir now :-)
1and1 seems to be using some sort of relay system, which many email providers now block. Even with the dedicated IP for your email, it is being relayed, and I receive a ton of messages back that relayed mail is not allowed.
UPDATE: I spoke with 1&1 yesterday, and their tone seems to have changed completely.
The tone in my first call was completely dismissive, basically saying "we don't care, you're on your own, contact AOL yourself." A direct quote was "It is not company policy to deal with these problems."
When I called back yesterday, the operator's response was: "We've been hearing about these problems from a lot of our customers, and we are working with AOL to get it resolved. We've asked to be placed on their Whitelist, and it was supposed to be resolved by now (yesterday). We hope to have it resolved in the next 48 hours."
I even got a followup email an hour later, saying "We're sorry these email issues have been such a problem for you. We hope to have it resolved soon."
Needless to say, my jaw was on the floor, since I was ready to cancel my service because of the dismissive treatment I'd received in my last call.
At this point I am waiting to see if the bounceback problems resolve themselves over the next 48 hours.
I'm guessing that I was not the only customer who called to complain, and 1&1 changed their "official policy" to respond to the high level of complaints.
Regardless, the change in position was pretty stunning. Now it's just a matter of seeing if they follow through on their committment to resolve the problem.
Did you ever get a final answer from 1and1.com about this aol mail issue? I'm looking at using them for a dedicated windows machine (actually, already have the system, a Server III seems fast and reliable so far, but haven't gone live with my public site on it yet). I'm concerned, though, that if we use them for email we could wind up in a spambox somewhere.
It remains a problem. 1&1 talked about finding a solution, but we continue to receive bouncebacks, if anything it's increased since I first saw the problem.
You mention using them for a dedicated windows machine. If you are hosting a dedicated server, or anything that gives you a unique email IP address, you probably have better chances of not being blocked. It seems the problem comes from shared hosting servers, because multiple users send from the same IP address, so that one person can be using it for normal purposes, while another sends massive spam, and it all comes from the same IP address.
At this point I'm looking to go with a Virtual Private Server, since it offers a unique IP address for sending email. I'm also planning to phase my business away from 1&1. They seem to work in high volume business, where they offer low prices and draw in tons of customers. I haven't received good customer support from them, and feel that the loss of my business would be just a blip on the radar screen for them.
Of course, they may offer better support for higher paying clients.
I haven't seen a virtual private server setup for Windows that I consider flexible enough for my needs-- and yes, unfortunately, for the principal portion of the site I'm hosting I have to have Windows, Linux won't do. (Lotsa ASP and .Net code, and no way I'm going back and re-implementing in something I can run on Linux.)
I've found a pretty good if pricey one at maximumasp.com but they won't accept PHP, which I need for a couple of features I'm deploying (or at least would like to deploy) for my site. I suppose I could get a Linux account or two as well and use subdomains to make the whole thing look like a unified site... I'm debating the administrative hassles of that vs. the 1and1.com approach where at least I have Windows console access and can just set things up as it pleases me.
I'm looking at the possibility of running my own SMTP server that won't relay through the 1and1.com servers. Would this be likely to get past the issue with spam blocking of the 1and1.com servers? (Our mail definitely isn't spam-- we only send email to users who visit our site and register with a username and password etc..)
Thanks again for your attention. This is something I've got to solve...
You might be on to something. That is an idea that I considered but did not try to implement. I might work, assuming that the SMTP server you choose is not itself a shared server.
PD-- Have a look at a product called MailEnable. (Google the name.) A windows-based SMTP and POP mail server and listserv manager, free in the basic edition and very affordable in the more advanced ones. Looks quite feature-rich. I was thinking to just install this on my dedicated box, and use it to communicate with my user base and maybe even run mail for my domains.