Catch-all EOL mitigation


I probably have hundreds of catch all emails that I use to (ironically) reduce spam to my email box and track emails that are coming in. Using the + character to make email address’s on the fly rarely works for most webforms as a ton consider this an invalid character. It also does not prevent someone from removing the +unique bit and now send the real account email with no tracking capabilities.

I just have one catchall mailbox that I have configured gmail to log into to pull email content - the mail is deleted by google and I’m not forwarding it anywhere and I’m also not using up processing power to check emails for spam so this solution is not really a resource drain on the dreamhosts servers and manually adding all the email addresses as an alias is just a resource drain to me.

I’ve discovered a couple of companies that have been breached due to suddenly getting spam sent to a companies unique email address (including one government tax department).

I’ve asked dreamhost support for a list of email address’s that have been used in the past and ideally a way to programatically add email address’s as aliases to a mail account. Yes I can add an alias manually but I’m sure shops are going to love it when they ask for an email address and I have to pull up the email editing webpage during checkout (although enough of us do that, it might be a good incentive to quit asking for that information :wink:

Having used Godaddy, 1and1 and companies being bought up by EIG in the past, it’s getting harder and harder to find a comparably priced email and hosting solution but if anyone has some good alternatives to mail and hostng for a comparable price then please update here.


I dumped my password manager data to a spreadsheet (luckily I often note what email alias I used for registering in my notes). I found 502 unique addresses this way and added them using the bulk-edit tool in the mail admin panel. However, since there is no pagination in the DH tool, I can only admin the first few without resorting to bulk-editing.

After adding all the 502 known aliases using the bulk edit tool, I then pointed the catch-all alias to a new gmail account set up just for the specific purpose of tracking which aliases still go to the catch-all (i.e. which ones were not in my existing rule set) - just so I can start getting a handle on which aliases I have not yet discovered.


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: