Buyer Beware: Dreamhost=Spam

If you’re considering a Dreamhost account, beware that their email system is abominable. They have a spam killer called SpamAssassin, which, when operated according to their difficult instructions, still lets through dozens of spam messages per day.

Also, their webmail client is primitive and contains no methods for blacklisting spam messages from your inbox. You have to do it manually.

On other threads, Dreamhost has had a shill respond that it is not their duty to provide email for the domains they host, that that is just gravy for the customer. Well, they provide it, and it is god-awful.

Dreamhost will want you to use Gmail. They practically push you to do it. And again, beware - they will tell you that it is a one-click install. Well, it’s one-click for Dreamhost to get rid of your email account, but you better have a deep understanding of how to manage all sorts of profound web stuff if you ever want to see your email actually show up at Gmail. Gmail warns you that the setup takes about half an hour - and that’s if you really understand technical stuff. I’ve been using computers since the git-go, and have not been able to make the transfer, so you better be pretty damn good at advanced web management.

And Dreamhost will do nothing to assist you in this. Their online documentation is the worst in the industry, written exclusively for geeks whose lives are based around tweaking their computers. If you’re just a user who wants a streamlined experience, avoid Dreamhost.

Dreamhost is okay for domain hosting - pretty good, anyway, they had all sorts of security issues resulting in the compromising of accounts and the loss of WebFTP for weeks - but if you need your service to include email, do not sign up with Dreamhost, because it couldn’t possibly be worse. You will get spammed to the maximum, and they don’t give a damn.

By the way, Dreamhost’s main feature is providing customer service that is very good at appearing to be cool, hip and caring, but there is no correlation between what customer service says and what their managers actually implement.

I’m sorry, but most Web hosts offer SpamAssassin. It is imperfect, as are all spam protection methods, but you can configure the strength of the filtering. Manually blacklisting spam is no little different from the way you’d do it on, say, GoDaddy or 1and1.

Setting up Gmail is actually a good thing, since Google has some of the best spam filtering in the industry. You don’t have to deal with the fineries of Gmail setup at the beginning. The basic process isn’t terribly difficult at all. You may have used computers since the “git-go,” but maybe you need to pay a little closer attention to the directions.

As to “all sorts of security issues resulting in the comprising of accounts,” that’s just not true. The recent security issue, in which DreamHost reset FTP and SSH passwords as a precaution, did not, they report, result in any actual compromised accounts. It was done to protect customers against the possibility something would happen because of a data breach. In other words, they were proactive in closing the door before the hackers could gain control of someone’s account.

The shill returns.

Mr. Steinberg, you say to follow the directions. Well, I have. The SpamAssassin filter is set to 4, enabled and updated… The user is expected to fine-tune to one of something >999 (since some number of lower digits can include decimal values) values if they want to get rid of their spam. Now that’s straightforward!

And pray tell, what does it say in the directions about spam that keeps getting through even once the user has specifically filtered it? Hmmm? Filtered it for From: Subject and Body, and still gets through?

If 4 isn’t powerful enough, try 3. You may have some false positives, but you can whitelist those. If you go through this process for a short time, you’ll find a workable compromise. It won’t be perfect, but it’ll be decent enough. If you use a desktop email client, such as Mail on the Mac, you will benefit from some level of built-in spam protection that’ll clean up the missed messages.

The higher figure is the Quarantine threshold. But if you configure the spam filter to move flagged messages to an IMAP folder (say one labeled Junk), the flagged messages will go there. Did you do that? Otherwise, you can set a Quarantine threshold of, say, 8, so you won’t see higher scoring spam, but you’ll be able to check the borderline stuff that might be a false positive.

And, bud, I am a shill for nobody. My affiliation is in my signature. I don’t work for this company or any hosting company. A personal attack doesn’t help you case.

My whole point is that trying to get Dreamhost’s spam configured is an involved - and then ultimately fruitless - exercise. You make my point for me. I have done exactly what you ask about, but clearly you spend more time responding to whatever you want than to what is actually written. What I said was that even after configuring, even after filtering - the SPAM STILL GETS THROUGH. Understand?

Yes, I have both values configured, and yes, I have been screwing around with them. The whole point is that there would be easy fixes, but somehow you are vested in the idea that whatever is, is good enough.

Answer this: do you see any reason why Dreamhost should continue to use a mail client that does not allow users to blacklist mail from their inbox? Is there any reason why this should be so complicated? Is there any reason why when one checks the boxes that one of the options not be to blacklist?

There is no such thing as a perfect spam filter. Let’s get past that. Some will always get through.

With my account, most of our critical email goes through Gmail, and we have the professional Google Apps package on two of our domains. One of my colleagues likes his SquirrelMail, and thus works with DreamHost’s existing email structure on his domain.

And, yes, you can blacklist and whitelist email. Go to your Anti-spam settings in the control panel to add the addresses to the list.

Are you being deliberately obtuse? Answer the question I asked, not the one you want to answer. If you do, I promise to try listening to your radio show again.

I did answer your questions. These systems require a little trial and error and judicious use of the whitelists and blacklists to fine tune. You do that for a few weeks, you’ll have something that is less imperfect. If you still can’t take the spam, try moving your stuff to Gmail. I do not regard that process as complicated, but you have to manually move the messages from one service to the other. Is that where you’re having a problem?

Oh, good. I thought I was the shill!

Call me old fashioned, or ignorant, or whatever, but I wouldn’t use a hosting company for email. I’m not sure how many do, but I’d prefer to use a larger, more stable infrastructure. The only time I use email on DH is when I’m sending out account confirmations and the like.

Anyway, it sounds like your beef is with SpamAssassin. As I don’t use email on DH, I may be wrong, but is DH forcing you to use it? You can’t connect to your email account using imap/pop and filter the messages with your own selection of programs/filters?

My opinion is that DH offers spam protection that’s better than most hosts provide. Many hosts take the easy way out and just use cPanel or Plesk control panels, and their built-in spam protection is awful without extensive fine-tuning, or adding a third-party utility (such as MailScanner for cPanel). With DH, you can usually get pretty decent protection with judicious use of whitelists and blacklists for a while, and, as you state, let an email client’s spam protection fill in the gaps.

But the complainant also talked about difficulty migrating to Gmail, which is not a severe process and made fairly easy with the setup DH provides. I asked for specifics, but it appears that BrianB has retreated for now.

Hardly a retreat, Gene. You’re not worth responding to because you only answer questions you make up, not those posed. If you want to see why the Gmail transfer might be difficult for users, have someone other than yourself go through the process and be quiet and take notes and see for yourself.

Thanks for not answering my questions. You ignore the issue of whether you tried using DreamHost’s email from a regular email client, whether you set an IMAP Junk mail folder, etc., etc.

Since you are someone who has used computers since the “git go,” tell us what is complicated to you about moving to Gmail?

Please try specifics this time, rather than charges.

Here’s what DH’s Web panel instructions state to start:

[quote]All you need to do is:
You need to register at Google Apps for your Domain if you haven’t already.
Re-create your email accounts over at Google Apps for your Domain.
NOTE: your existing email accounts and messages will not be converted automatically![/quote]

You do understand how to copy messages from one account to another via IMAP in an email client, right?

Gene, you’re not worth responding to. I tried all that stuff, it doesn’t matter. You’re too dense to continue conversing with. The point is that everything you are suggesting means a constant, vigilant effort. I have suggested easy fixes, all you do is shill for a shitty system. Maybe this is why your radio show is unlistenable.

I won’t be responding to you any more.

I will ignore your childish insults. Clearly you find it more convenient to complain and less convenient to do what’s necessary to reduce spam. You claim to have tried “everything” I am suggesting, but cannot provide a single specific example about which steps you tried, and the results you achieved. You weren’t, for example, able to figure out how to blacklist addresses in the DH control panel. That is clearly one step you DIDN’T do, because you said you didn’t know how.

The transfer to Gmail isn’t a “constant, vigilant effort.” I moved email from three domains over there in December, close to 75,000 messages. The hard work was done in less than an hour, including very granular configuration of the Gmail accounts. The rest of the time was just waiting out the messages to move from one set of IMAP folders to another. That took a while, but it was nothing that required constant babysitting, or a “constant, vigilant effort.”

I would also think if the process were so damned difficult, lots of people would be complaining about it here and elsewhere. Indeed, DH’s integration with Gmail makes it far easier to do it within their control panel. I don’t know of any other hosts who are doing this, though I grant there might be some.

Understand that I have used a number of email systems from commercial providers (such as Rackspace Email, PolarisMail and others), and the standard ones provided by GoDaddy, 1and1 Internet, hosts who rely on control panels from cPanel and Plesk, plus DreamHost. So I’m fully aware of what’s realistic and otherwise.

As to what you think of my radio show, you can’t get that right either. I have two, and at least i have a network deal. If you don’t like the shows, don’t listen. That’s why you have choices.

The tinfoil hat is strong with this one. You may need to expand your disdain beyond the mere “childish insult” portion of the program.

My reticence occasioned by the fact that I am on traditional radio and must hold my tongue. :slight_smile:

I get over 150 spam messages a day. I’ve set my spam filter at 1.5 and I still get get 15 or more messages a day in my inbox. DreamHost needs a better spam mail system that kills the spam before it ever hits mail clients.

I’ve been a Dreamhost client since 2008, I don’t have this problem. I have domains both with private registration, and with my registration details published. I have email for all domains, including all the standard old school addresses: webmaster@, abuse@, admin@ and webmaster@ for each domain. With exactly one exception I don’t get spam, I do still have one site that publishes an email address on an ‘about’ page… that one single address gets spammed. I don’t have dreamhost spam filtering enabled because I’ve never needed to.

Your mileage may vary, but that’s what I get. I often have to wonder of the complainers have a vested interest someplace else. I don’t defend dreamhost email… in general it sucks, but overall being a dreamhost customer, or having domains registered here doesn’t make me a spam target.

I’ve gotta agree with LakeRat on this one. I’ve had numerous domains, worked with numerous hosts, and through a combination of RTFM and being patient enough to wait for changes to propagate across the world wide web, I have never had the number of problems some people have, or have the same problems to the degree that some people have.

Maintaining your own website is not a simple business of buying some hosting and dropping in some code. You need to know how the back end of a server works, you need to know how the internet works, you need to know how to Google something if someone suggests a solution to you that you are unfamiliar with, and you need to have a problem-solving mindset. Getting a website is a lot like getting a dog—it’s a combination of work and fun, and sometimes quite a bit more of one than the other. If you’re not willing to do a lot of heavy lifting, maintaining your own website probably isn’t for you. Blogger exists for a reason, one-click installs exist for a reason, and small web hosting companies (like me) exist for a reason.

I have wondered this many times, as well.