Intermittent IMAP Email


Morning, all.

I have a client who use Dreamhost for their domain emails, and they are having intermittent connection problems using IMAP. It works for a few minutes, then Outlook refuses to connect to the server, then it works again… and they are getting frustrated.

There is no mention of any email problems on the Dreamhost Status page. Client is using homiemail-master as their email cluster. Friendly admins, please check and reply ASAP. Thank you.


I’m on the same mail cluster and have not had any issues recently. I have multiple devices updating and haven’t seen any errors.


Well, apparently the problem has resolved itself now. It was strange, Outlook (2007) was connecting, then it wasn’t, then it was. These off-and-on problems are so annoying…


I’m on Outlook 2010 and I’ve been having that problem for the last week or so. It affects our personal and business emails and occurs on pc and iphone.

It is happening both on IMAP and POP3. I am on homiemail-sub3. It is intermittent and self-resolving. It mostly happens in the morning. Sometimes closing and re-opening Outlook will result in being able to connect but other times it doesn’t. It just happened this morning again. Closing/opening routine allowed connection.

This is not a solution to the problem however, it is just a frustrating, unreliable work around.


GrantP & LaVerneM:

The info you both have provided is a bit limited, so at this point there’s no real way to know if this is an Outlook issue, or an issue on our side. It sounds like this could be Outlook, or Internet connection issues.

I’d advise you both to get more data by enabling more logging:

You can use that to gather more data/a record of what your mail program sees happening. It will show where Outlook sees the issue occurring, which could be anywhere. That should help shed some more light on the issue, and we can go from there. :slight_smile:


Thanks for the update. They are still having this problem now and then, and the email also seems to be very slow.

I did some Outlook logging as you suggested, and got the following:

[color=#1E90FF]C:\PROGRA~1\MICROS~2\Office12\OUTLMIME.DLLIMAP: 09:26:04 [db]

Intializing connection [0x0bff4fe8]

IMAP: 09:26:04 [db] Setting internal codepage to 1200

IMAP: 09:26:04 [db] Connecting to ‘’ on port 143.
IMAP: 09:26:04 [db] OnNotify: asOld = 0, asNew = 4, ae = 0
IMAP: 09:26:04 [db] OnNotify: asOld = 4, asNew = 5, ae = 2
IMAP: 09:26:04 [db] OnNotify: asOld = 5, asNew = 5, ae = 4
IMAP: 09:26:04 [db] err: WSAGETSELECTEVENT = 0x20, WSAGETSELECTERROR = 10053
IMAP: 09:26:04 [db] Connection to ‘’ closed.
IMAP: 09:26:04 [db] OnNotify: asOld = 5, asNew = 0, ae = 5
IMAP: 09:26:04 [db] ERROR: “Your server unexpectedly terminated the connection. Possible causes include server problems, network problems, or a long period of inactivity.”, hr=2148322319[/color]

The next time, it works, but slowly. Emails were sometimes taking five minutes, sent from one person in the office to another. Their web browsing is at normal speed, too. Everything seems to point back to the email servers.

Their boss is getting quite annoyed at the lost productivity, he may even want to move the email to be hosted somewhere else…

Your assistance expediting the problem resolution would be appreciated.

UPDATE - all seems well now. The problem only seems to occur in the morning, 7:00-10:00am NZDT (10:00-13:00 PST). Is there anything happening on the mail cluster during this time? A backup, perhaps?


Sorry for the delay here! I’m glad to hear all is well now. I’ve been doing some digging with one of our mail experts here, and this is what we’ve discovered:

The error you’re seeing: “err: WSAGETSELECTEVENT = 0x20, WSAGETSELECTERROR = 10053”, is something a number of Windows users of Outlook and Windows Live Mail have seen.
The ‘nicer’ error message at the end is just Outlook’s interpretation of what occurred, not necessarily accurate. Interestingly, people have reported this error connecting a wide variety of mail servers. For example, some customers have it intermittently when using Gmail IMAP, often when switching between folders.

Regarding your question about the timing, we do mail backups in the hours around midnight PST, and the timeframe you gave was mid-day during regular business hours.

We’re leaning toward this being a Microsoft issue with the mail client and how it does IMAP. Microsoft’s mail program upgrades nearly all include upgrades that are not just to the interface, but also “under the hood” protocol stuff it uses to communicate with servers. Upgrading to a mail program less than 7 years old might be a good step. But after that, I would suggest asking Microsoft for assistance.

I wouldn’t say this is definitely not on our side, but from the information we have based on our customers and a lot of random internet users, I would focus on the only thing everyone has in common – Microsoft. If they find no problem, and/or have more details about what precisely is happening, we can definitely look into this further.

As for your boss possibly wanting to move mail service to another host – yes, paying money for a service you value is much better than using one that comes freely bundled with web hosting. While the email service we provide free along with our hosting plans is usually plenty enough for the average shared hosting customer here (and more reliable than some other basic email services), it may not be the best choice for important/urgent business (and especially sales) messages and accounts. We take great pride in the services we offer, but admittedly, we know our email service is not the greatest, and is not yet quite as reliable as our hosting services.

For high-profile sites and accounts that are sending messages of dire importance, I would definitely recommend using a more robust third-party mail provider that can really promise certain levels of reliability. I understand how this may sound, and don’t want you to lose confidence in our hosting services at all. This is simply my advice based on what you’ve shared, as I would hate for our mail service to cause similar issues for you in the future.


We also experience the same problems with Dreamhost IMAP. But it is unlikely that this is Microsoft fault - I personally use Thunderbird, and many times a day I see the same - my eEmail client can not connect to IMAP server. Thunderbird says “server is busy or there is a network problem”. One of my colleagues live in LA area, very close to Dreamhost, and if there is a network problem - most likely it is at Dreamhost side.


Thank you for being so candid, Elle. We are definitely considering our options.

BTW, tomorrow will be Wednesday (here) again. If this same problem happens again, you might want to have another look at your servers.



I am seeing the same behaviour when checking the mail, the error message I see is that the server timed out on port 143. This happens repeatedly on checking email, and I am using Mac Mail on Mavericks. Does DreamHost have a maximum allowable IMAP connections per account or per IP? If so what is it?

Even just to register for this forum, it took almost 10 minutes for the confirmation email to get here, and the email timed out at least twice, and I had no other email coming into this account in that time period.


Several macs on different OS in our network have intermittent POP email connectivity issues. I get the message “connection to the server failed or was dropped”. If you keep hitting send/receive it eventually is successful. Sometimes it takes a few minutes of trying to get there though. Meanwhile, the non-dreamhost account I’m checking at the same time comes through without any problems. All are using outlook from the office for mac 2011 suite.


Same issues here to. Using server Intermittent connection refusals on SMTP and IMAP…

Contacted their live chat at they said they know about it, its been going on for weeks, and they are not going to show it on for every outage… But I agree, it’s getting worse and seems to be pretty much unusable each morning for a while. Especially if you use which constantly connects and disconnects it’s IMAP session in the background. You could be in the middle of an email and then you can’t send or save a draft because the backend server is no longer working…

Hoping this is resolved soon!!!