Catch-all EOL mitigation


I’m a decade+ Dreamhost user, and have recommended them to dozens of friends over the years.

I’ve also taught them how to use the catch-all mechanism for keeping track of email abusers.

I have (literally) hundreds of these “disposable” email addresses, some of them for real business (like my email account associated with Dreamhost itself).

Well, I’m done.

I’ve moved my catch-all email to Fastmail. They have a 30 day free trial, and it took all of 20 minutes to get everything running (just MX. DNS still hosted by Dreamhost for now. Pro tip: Set your DNS TTL to something short, like 5 minutes, before you make this change. Wait for the TTL to kick in then make changes. That way, you can see effects of your change more quickly).

So far, so good. Both the administration and webmail UIs are better than Dreamhost. It feels faster than Dreamhost too.

I’m also going to set up a spare domain name on 1and1 also and compare.

G Suite (Google) is an option I’ll look into.

All of these are in the $5 a month/$50 a year range.

It sucks to be paying more to get the same behavior I was getting on Dreamhost, but clearly they don’t want my business.

I’ll be looking into moving my dozens of websites off Dreamhost in the coming months.


tl;dr: I’m switching to Mailcheap for email, and keeping Dreamhost …for now

Like everyone else, I rely on my catch-all email. I’m also surprised at the reasons given by Dreamhost to discontinue the service. How do they know its “overwhelming volume of spam”? Is that inference or are they inspecting data transmitted?

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last three days doing my research and I want to share what I’ve learned and have you challenge my decisions before I finalize them.

Self Hosting: Not recommended
My first thought was to migrate everything — mail and hosting — to Linode and do it all myself. Bootstrap a few Docker images into cheap VPS. Transfer my DNS away. Then I put on shades as I walk away while Dreamhost explodes in slow motion behind me. The pros are absolute freedom. The cons are well, everything is up to me — the worst kind of freedom. I’m not a professional sysadmin. And the turnkey solutions for email are good but still nascent. And to quote a wise devops manager, “the worst thing you can do on the internet is run your own mail server.”

But I did it anyway! YOLO! For the low-low cost of $20/month I set up a Linode box that can handle all my mail just the way I want.

The problem is that I am clearly over my head.

My personal mail is super-important. The stakes are high. Doing it right is something that is totally worth paying someone else to do.

Another Hosting Provider: Mixed Bag
Well, if Dreamhost isn’t perfect, then maybe some other provider will be? I’ll use Hostgator as an example, but feel free to put [other hosting provider] in its place. Hostgator isn’t a 1-to-1 replacement of Dreamhost. There are a number of problems just with migration of configuration much less the actual data migration. It would take a lot of time for me to move DNS, migrate data, and then end up in basically the same situation I was in before. I’m beholden to some hosting provider and whatever services and level of service they provide.

I don’t want to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Managed Email Hosting: A Focused Answer
To clearly state the top concern: Dreamhost email hosting isn’t what it used to be and I’m willing to pay to have a better email solution. I chose Mailcheap over Fastamil because I have multiple domains and Fastmail only supports a single domain. Zoho is worth a look, but its becoming a feature-rich “Workplace” service and I want a focused solution for email.

I’ve signed up for an account on Mailcheap, but it’s taken more time for Mailcheap to activate my service than its taken me to configure my Linode.

I’ll come back to report more findings later.



The “workaround” of switching to a +tag for the basic email DOES NOT WORK because more than half the sites you care about (e.g., banking, health care, you know, trivial cr@p like that)…



I did this by grepping my Thunderbird archives.



So here’s a thought I had.

Does anyone know if there’s a command-line way to add a forwarding-only address from an SSH session on the domain? I would make a little tool to accept a new mail name and SSH on the backend into my domain, add the address, and then I could go about my business (almost) as before.

My interest here is not to be under the gun of a deadline like this while figuring out where to move my hosting, which is a fairly complex undertaking.


I’m doing the same: manually setting up hundreds of aliases that I collected over the years to forward to a regular mailbox. I will keep the catch-all going until closer to the EOL date so that I can set up more aliases as they arrive.

However, a heads-up: I mistakenly added a real address to the Bulk-editing form. Without requesting any confirmation, this deleted the regular mailbox I had associated with that address! For a moment I thought I had lost all my messages, but recovering the mailbox was simple: I just recreated the email and selected the existing mailbox login in the new mail form. All my messages were there, as before.



I just want to add my own “me too” here. I’m livid. I just transferred 5 domains over, having moved the ones I initially had with Dreamhost off a few months ago to trash. (Business no longer a going concern.)

One of the core things I use a domain for is throwaway catch-alls. Depending on the context, I’ve just told people to use their name, at my domain, to reach me. They can remember it, I get the email, life’s easy.

I had no idea this functionality had been removed, and just spent over an hour wondering what I was doing wrong, not being able to find it, only to find this thread.

The absolute stupidity of this goes beyond my ability to understand it. Instead of maybe going after accounts where there’s abuse, to crap all over people who’ve recommended them over the years is just… I’m having so much trouble typing without just falling into a string of profanity. The justification for this change is without merit. What’s the difference between having 200 accounts you set up, with actual mailboxes, and a single mailbox that at any given time might get an email from 200 different names? What’s the difference between setting up “unlimited” emails to forward to your external email, vs having a single catch-all that… does the same thing?!!

Namecheap and Namesilo and even the rock bottom of the barrel registrars like all offer a catch-all as part of just registering your domain with them. I’m paying a hell of a lot more than that for hosting at Dreamhost and now I need to go get a separate damn mail service?! I’m really just seething here, and annoyed that I’m going to have to screw with moving my domains back off DH and eat the loss of wasted time and money.

What the hell happened to this company?


Here’s a script that I found and modified to go through all emails in all folders of an IMAP account and dump out all the email addresses it finds to a file (it takes a while to run, but prints out some progress info). Hope it helps:


Hello all,

I’m another longstanding DH customer in the same situation.

A kindly soul over on another forum pointed me to, a Swiss based email-only service provider. I realise this won’t be a service everyone will want to look at, but it solves the problem for me. I’ve just migrated email for one domain over, and it was very smooth going.

Unlike DH, catch-alls are part of their USP and seem likely to stay that way. They allow as many regex-based catch-alls as you need on your domain(s), so you can segment things and have “partial” catches. Free tier to start with too.

Hope that helps some of you!


Was doing some math (yea that’s always fun :smiley: )
But I’ve got a few domains (12 currently) with 1 or 2 that had Catch-All e-mails.
One I’m only using for E-Mail as I needed ASP.NET Web hosting for the site itself.

But now that I look at the hosting cost + 12 * Domain Renewals & the second hosting plan for ASP, I’m thinking I just might move all of them over to the newer ASP site, given they say they also support Catchall, and it’s might be a bit more for hosting per year, but their renewal is $2 less so it might balance out in the end, or even save me a bit given I’ve already got to pay for 2 hosting plans currently.


This is what I wanted to know about this.


I did the same thing, but since I use gmail - I used Google Takeout to download all of my email. Then I used grep to find all the addresses.

I only ended up with 313.


I wish I had seen this thread sooner.

I don’t use DH email because of all of the issues we see in this forum. But with a growing number of sites my need for email support has been growing.

I pay for services on my primary domain. It’s too expensive for more than one domain or for more than a few accounts. So I need another solution to that too.

GMail and Yahoo support dynamic addresses, great for disposables.

For many years I’ve been paying for which provides disposable addresses for all of the legitimate reasons discussed in this thread. The cost is Very reasonable and the service is awesome. We can disable or delete addresses. We see activity logs. We can greylist addresses. We can organize them in many ways. We can send email from one of these addresses. Responding to inbound mail goes back to the originator using the address, without disclosing our real addresses.

While comfortable with hundreds of addresses (well organized) at SneakEmail, I still feel some vulnerability of losing newsletters and other contacts if that service closes (exactly what’s happening with this DH EOL). To help cover for this I’ve installed the Zimbra email server in a DreamCompute instance. It’s initially quite easy and painless, but anyone will tell you that managing a mail server requires an ongoing effort. My intent is to shift all of my domains and email services to this self-hosted system, and add my own disposable email address generator to reduce (not eliminate) the dependency on that provider.

I’m not offering hosting services and don’t recommend self-hosting to everyone. There are many self-hosting email servers and many disposable email providers. I just hope this info will help some of you to understand your options as you seek solutions to the DH catch-all problem.


It is unacceptable that they are ending the catch-all while at the same time experiencing issues forwarding to explicit aliases. It’s been 5 days since I reported this to support and they have yet to even figure out why some of the forwarding rules are being ignored and being sent to the catch-all.

Are they intentionally trying to lose customers?


Can anyone provide the steps or a link to the steps required to migrate Dreamhost domain and/or email to another ISP. I’ve been told this is easy, but I haven’t done admin or DNS work in over a decade and right now I’m dealing with an urgent family medical issue (pancreatic cancer) and don’t have the time to do the research before I lose access all my catch-all emails

Alternatively, is there anyone who has already successfully migrated off of Dreamhost and would be willing to take on this task for a fee? You can contact me privately via my public email address steven424 {at} earthlink {dot} net.

Thanks in advance for your help,
— Steve


That should be in a different thread of it’s own - and it’s not that tough. Good luck.


I am SO disappointed with Dreamhost over this foolish decision to withdraw this valuable service.

I challenged DH to prove the so called reasons for this decision but they refused to engage simply saying it was a tough decision.

Like others here I have given out thousands of email addresses some of which are really critical, things like software licences and banking.

DH have managed to find around 450 of them but I know that there are thousands.

In addition to this they have nuked the email addresses of non catchall accounts, these all have sub 10mb size now.

After 12 years (plus years before under other account name) I dare not trust any DH service that is on offer now because I can see them withdrawing the service at their whim.

For me the worst thing is how they have refused to listen to customers very real concerns and decided to go ahead and inconvenience them.

If there WERE problem SPAM catachall accounts then it would have been bettwe to contact the customers with those accounts and ask the Dreamhost customer to fix it.

Other providers offer blackholing services on their catchall, so when an email address starts being used by spammers it can be bounced.

I always thought Dreamhost was one of the good guys who listened to customers; I have recommended them to hundreds but never again. The refusal to engage because they were scared that I could prove that the so called reasons were unfounded showed a real disdain for customers.


Sorry but tha is TOTAL BS, I challenged you to prove the technical assertions you made and you declined, I wrote to Brett and got a load of BS there too.

What I DID find was that DH were not archiving my email according to the parameters in my Catchall account, that was a #fail by Dreamhost and nothing to do with Catchall.

CatchAll is actually a great way to prevent spam, I give everyone a different email, e.g. when eBay got hacked I was quickly able to change the email at ebay to and redirect all new email sent to to a dummy account.

There were problems with DH email, firstly it did not follow it’s own rules about archiving old email; so instead of archiving every 2000 messages or 365 days I had an account with many thousands of emails.

The other DH mail problem is the awful webmail product, honestly it is SO BAD I would rather have squirrel. It appears to me that Dreamhost is blaming the size of our accounts for this poor performance but it was just as bad on my smaller mailboxes.

I feel really sad about Dreamhost’s behaviour on this matter, it is like losing an old friend or seeing one become senile.

Sometime in IT depts you see techs having a pissing contest and that seems to be what has happened here. Blaming Catchall for a poorly configured dreamhost service.

What worries me is WHAT NEXT, what is the next service that customers value but Dreamhost decides is a TOUGH DECISION to withdraw?

I guess we will soon find out, it seems that DH has sold it’s soul, this kind of behaviour usually happens before a sale of the company.

We have seen how other providers got gobbled up and thousands of domains were migrated to single hosts. Maybe that is the future for Dreamhost.

Normally I would prepay 2 years at a time for my Dreamhost service, now I am thinking it might be better to move to monthly billing.

The only reason I have not jumped ship is the sheer amount of work it would be to migrate my hosting.

Dreamhost will come up in conversations with my friends and colleagues but instead of me speaking highly of them I will be warning against using them.


I have that same problem too :frowning: Can somebody help us please???


I don’t know how long this will work but… if you click the button labeled “Bulk-Edit Forwarding-Only Addresses” and manually type in it works again.