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  1. #1

    Wanted: Basic hosting with several email criteria!

    I'm looking for a new host, but the main criteria are for email service, as the webhosting load will not be that complex (blog, photo hosting, etc.). My current host's email handling is getting me down. Here are my criteria:

    1) at least 10 mailboxes (with at least a gig of space, even if it's shared with the rest of the hosting plan--none of these 25mb mailboxes) and lots of aliases

    2) IMAP (and webmail and SMTP, of course)

    3) spam filtering, BUT more specifically...

    4) if it does SPF filtering, it doesn't reject outright but adds that info for analysis in computing spam number. I'm having problems with forwarding accounts getting blocked by an agressive SPF filter on my host's servers. In my ideal world, it would be great where the whitelists could be set up to accept mail addressed TO a particular address, not just to accept mail addressed FROM a particular address or domain.

    5) host's SMTP servers don't show up regularly at all on RBLs (I've read of this problem with DreamHost, e.g.). I'd like mail to get through to people, even if they're at AOL.

    6) spam filter does check RBLs, but doesn't reject mail outright based on them, or at least gives me the option not to reject outright. Right now my host is set up reject all mail from RBL-blacklisted IPs, unless the originator's in my whitelist. This is not ideal. Ideal would be take RBL info into consideration when assigning a spam score, but not rejecting outright.

    7) ideally, I'd like mail marked as spam by SpamAssassin or what-not to be delivered to SPAM folder on the IMAP account instead of the INBOX (where my mail program would have to filter it based on the **SPAM** subject or because of the headers). This way Thunderbird, e.g., doesn't notify me of new mail when spam shows up because the notifier only works for the inbox. Some hosts put the spam folder on webmail only (e.g. DreamHost), but my old employer (a university) did the SPAM folder in imap trick, and that was the way to go.

    8) forward carbon copying--gotta forward everything to my gmail catch-all and be able to read it from the server too. I shouldn't be amazed, but I am that 1and1, e.g., allows you to either forward an address or receive mail there, but not both.

    9) virus scanning would be nice.

    The biggest concerns are those concerning spam filtering. I have a thread on this problem with my current host (hostrocket) that got fairly technical:
    webhostingtalk.com/showthread.php?t=560319

    I haven't found the perfect host for my needs yet, and it's hard to find out all the info I need about the spam filtering in particular.

    Please, if you have any suggestions, let me have 'em!

  2. #2
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    The best way is to contact the technical support dept. of a prospective host and ask these questions.

    Best Regards,

  3. #3
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    I would agree, only the host that you have in mind will actually be able to answer these questions. For the basic requests, I would look in the offers section to get a better idea of which host you may want to go with. Then contact the support or sales of that company and ask them first hand! Good luck.
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  4. #4
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    Most of what you mentioned should be pretty standard. Look around.

  5. #5
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    I know with Hsphere Control panel these are all inculuded. Not sure about Cpanel as I have not used Cpanel in a while.
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  6. #6
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    You can look around and make a list with some hosts that appear to be popular and have satisfied customers and then get in touch with them. That way not only you find out if they can offer everything that is important to you, but you also test their response time and the way they answer your questions. It might prove to be useful in the future.

  7. #7
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    I believe all of these are possible with cPanel, but it really depends how much the host has set up already and how much they will allow you to change -- so it's probably best to contact the host's tech department and see what they can work out ahead of time.
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  8. #8
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    Seems fine with Ensim too!
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  9. #9
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    On cPanel servers, this is all pretty much a given, unless the host disabled some of the options.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by utropicmedia-karl
    The best way is to contact the technical support dept. of a prospective host and ask these questions.

    Best Regards,
    I agree, they would know what is installed.

  11. #11
    I believe with h-sphere all of this is included, you can check out some h-sphere hosts:

    www.steadfast.net
    www.fluidhosting.com
    www.relio.com
    www.vortechhosting.com

  12. #12
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    The control panel should not matter. I can vouch that cPanel provides this by default, because we run it.

  13. #13
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    i would write to the support dept. of a host you have in mind for those questions, but most should have your criteria.

  14. #14
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    I also would recommend H-Sphere all these options are available. You have complete control over your whitelists and blacklists as well as SPF settings. << removed >>

    Hope it helps!
    Last edited by writespeak; 11-10-2006 at 08:53 PM.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasontd101
    I also would recommend H-Sphere all these options are available. You have complete control over your whitelists and blacklists as well as SPF settings. << removed >>

    Hope it helps!
    cPanel has those things as well, and has been around almost 3 times longer....


    Nothing beats expereince.
    Last edited by writespeak; 11-10-2006 at 08:53 PM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by utropicmedia-karl
    cPanel has those things as well, and has been around almost 3 times longer....


    Nothing beats expereince.
    cpanel.net: 11-Nov-2000
    psoft.net: 14-Nov-1997

    Now do you care to tell me who has been around longer?
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by mripguru
    cpanel.net: 11-Nov-2000
    psoft.net: 14-Nov-1997

    Now do you care to tell me who has been around longer?
    No offense, but that was not very bright; all that shows is when the domain was last renewed. Also, if you noticed, the registrar listed for cPanel.net is TUCOWS - they wern't registering domains in 1997.

    "Formed in 1997, cPanel has been setting the standard for web hosting automation ever since."

    Also see http://www.psoft.net/news.html, scroll to the bottom to see the news archives. I'll save you the trip: they start in 2001.

    Regards,


    edit: wrong link!

  18. #18
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    Somebody being longer in the market does not make that product better. For instance: Cpanel is buggy, upgrades as of late have crashed and they just have some open bugs that they have yet to fix. Now a newer panel system such as DirectAdmin rarely has issues and is much more stable. It has everything CPanel has (including fantastico). So how can you say that CPanel is better just because it has "been in the market longer"? Seems illogical.

    Another example...microsoft and Mac OSX....OSX is a lot more stable and the code was redesigned a few years back (although it does use BSD variant yeah yeah yeah...I know...)
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  19. #19
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    MS DOS has been in the market longer. I won't use it for my main PC OS though.
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  20. #20

    Updated with my conclusions

    I want to think everybody who responded to this thread and those who contacted me privately. I thought I would share with you what I found out and what I ended up doing about my problem.

    First, full control of your email handling is not an easy thing to come by. A lot of hosting services do not do any RBL blacklist rejections on the server end, which is good because it means you decide what gets rejected. Some do though, and will not turn it off (HostRocket, my original host, and A Small Orange, to name two). A lot don't do virus checking at all (HostGator, LunarPages, e.g.). Almost all let you use SpamAssassin, although some use older versions of the software (HostGator and DreamHost, e.g.), although to be fair, some of these give you the option to install the newer version on your server (I believe, even in shared configurations at some places, although I may be confused about that). Actually configuring the way SpamAssassin scores things, though, is not something that is easy to find in a host (usually they have rough settings in their control panel, with not very much clarification of what 'Aggressive' or 'Conservative' actually mean or do). SPF checking is another issue, although I did not find a single place besides HostRocket that rejects incoming mail based on SPF without you being able to configure it (e.g. turn it off, or to allow fail or softfails through but to adjust the spam score).

    If you want a host that really does a nice job with user configuration of email handling, honestly it seems to me that Pair has everyone beat. I didn't switch to them, though, because I think they're expensive. HostGator, DreamHost, and LunarPages are all pretty hands off (and not necessarily easy to fine-tune), which is much better than being too hands-on (i.e. rejecting a lot of email without you having any say over it). If that's what you need, they all seem fine. I opened a new domain at Successful Hosting, and they have a nice feature set. I liked their responses to my questions and their set-up a lot. I may switch my main domain to them when it runs out at HostRocket. IXWebHosting, TimeHost, and WireNine all had agreeable email handling, if nothing special.

    But because I was reluctant to switch hosts on my main site right now, I decided to look at outsourcing of my mail handling on that domain (the one currently webhosted at HostRocket). In looking at those options, I discovered the holy grail of imap websites: Nancy McGough's IMAP Service Providers site at Infinite Ink, and her accompanying blog site, deflexion.com. After reading through that monumental piece of research, I agreed with her that if one is serious about email, it is probably best to separate the webhosting from the mailhosting. She recommends several of these, but Tuffmail looked like the best for me, and so I tried it. Honestly, after a couple of weeks with Tuffmail, I've decided to stick with it. I also opened a fastmail account, but I read a lot of threads in the emaildiscussions.com forum and determined that Tuffmail got hardly anything but glowing reviews. So far I'm really impressed.

    The biggest issue with going with an outsourced email provider is if you need multiple mailboxes. Having multiple aliases is no problem with tuffmail and fastmail (and most all of the good outsourcing companies), but if you want to give separate email accounts to people in your organization, or if you want several accounts for yourself, it can get expensive. I wrote to John Capo at Tuffmail (he seems to be the head honcho there) about ways to set up my domain nameserver to have tuffmail be the primary mail handler for my personal mailbox but to still have the option of having my webhosting company's mailservers deal with other mailboxes. He was glad to point me in the direction of setting up a subdomain at my host. I tried it with SuccessfulHosting, and it worked brilliant. Basically, if you let Tuffmail host the main account (or vice-versa, actually), the DNS MX record will simply be for Tuffmail only. But let's say you want [email protected] to be handled by your webhost's mailservers, then you can set up a subdomain, e.g. mailbox.mydomain.com, and it will have it's own MX record, which is set to use your webhost's mailservers. Then you can set up Tuffmail so that mail addressed to [email protected] gets forwarded to [email protected], and then it gets handled by your webhost's mail servers. You can set up mom's email programs to make this subdomain usage mostly invisible (it looks like her email is simply [email protected] in most respects, depending on which smtp server you use). For this to work well, though, you need 1) to have a webhost that allows for subdomains and for mailboxes at subdomains (the latter is not always true); 2) to have access to the DNS records for your domain and subdomains; and 3) you probably need to have access to the TXT portion of the DNS records if you want to make sure that your SPF is set up correctly (subdomains need to have their own SPF records, especially if the mail is being handled differently). #2 and #3 can be solved if you use a third-party DNS hosting service, like zoneedit.com.

    Ultimate benefit to using the subdomain trick: you can still keep your infinite number of mailbox accounts on your hosting service, and you can have all the control over your personal (or even several, if you pay for it) mailboxes that Tuffmail or other email host provides. Downside: mom has her mail handled by your webhost (although you can put server-side spam filters to work on tuffmail before it forwards to the webhost's mailservers). Second downside: all the mail handled for your domain and your subdomain goes through Tuffmail at some point and thus will count towards your monthly bandwidth allowance there.

    Speaking of SPF, one of the great things about Tuffmail is that it implements SRS correctly for forwarding, so when you forward [email protected] to [email protected], or if you want mail to [email protected] to be forwarded automatically to [email protected], for example, tuffmail will include the proper SRS headers to make sure that your endpoint email server doesn't barf at the potential SPF mismatch of the supposed FROM domain different from the reported SMTP of the forwarding service.

    So that's probably more than you wanted to know, but maybe not. And I'm definitely an amateur at this, so I may have reported some inaccuracies here. I just wanted to share what I think I learned. I do think this email handling issue is going to get more and more important in the hosting world as spam becomes an almost exponentially increasing problem (the September spike in spam seems to have continued unabated and those botnets are killing us all), but perhaps I'm wrong about that.

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