Problems sending email to hotmail

I’m having lots of problems sending email to hotmail addresses from my dreamhost accounts… most of my messages get lost (without any error letting me know they’ve been rejected), and I thought dreamhost could be blacklisted by hotmail, but a few of my messages do get through, even though they take hours. Also everything works fine when I get a message from hotmail and I reply to it.

Is anybody else having this problem?

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This MAY be related to a post I just made

I am having similar problems - everything sent to hotmail accounts is going in the junkmail folder. Any ideas on how to get around this appreciated !

Wewlcome to the “new age” of overly restrictive spam filters and ISPs/service providers that limit their users ability to receive mail.

At least you are getting into the “junk” folder at hotmail; AOL users don’t even get that courtesy when it comes to much of the “generated” mail from dynamic sites (forum response notification, order confirmations, sign-up activation emails, etc.)

I know DH constantly battles this, though success has been “spotty” at best, as numerous “heavy-handed” mail providers just can’t be reasoned with. Good SPF “might” help, but I don’t think even that is a real “cure”.

A quick tour around the web shows you are not alone, as many “legitimate” sites have resorted to published warnings about this to their users, instructing them to check their spam folders, whitelist the site’s servers, etc.

If your mails are at least getting through to the “spam”, or “junk” folder, I’d consider myself better off than many, who just get bounced, and consider posting notices like those described in the preceeding paragraph so your users know how to “work-around” the limitations of their email providers.

WHile not a real cure, I believe it will be a more productive approach to the problem then railing against hotmail, or trying to get them to change their ways regarding your mail. My experience has been that, even if you succeed initially in getting your mail “un-quaranteened”, it is only a matter of time till you have to repeat the whole process, as some idiot from a DH server will send spam, and your server will find itself “blocked” again.

Of course, all of this is just my opinion; YMMV :wink:

I agree about some spam filters being very ineffective, and in my opinion this can be more serious than spam itself.

My main problem is that my messages to hotmail don’t even bounce, I get no error messages or anything, and the receiver doesn’t get the message in their spam folder, it simply “disappears”. So I haven’t noticed the problem until now. I don’t know how much important email I may have lost because of this without noticing.

I hope this can be fixed, although it’s going to take ages because of dreamhost taking more than 24 hours to reply to every support ticket…

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I agree with you completely! I also understand how your situation is different than the one of the poster to whose message I replied: He was at least getting his messages accepted by the receiving server, though they were being routed to the spam folder of the user.

Obviously, the common “workaround” I suggested for him does not help you at all, as the mail is just ignored.

The most frustrating part of all this, is that there is ultimately very little Dreamhost can do about it; the problem rests with Hotmail.

Sure, DH can lobby Hotmail, jump through hoops to meet Hotmail’s requirements (at least “today’s” requirements that can change on a daily basis), make life harder for anyone (including all of us!) to send legitimate email from our domains in attempt to thwart spammers (they have already started limiting the number of emails that can be sent from a user in a limited period of time), and on and on ad nauseum.

However, at the end of the day, Hotmail will decide to accept or reject mail from whomever they please. Only their users bitching loudly, and in large numbers, has any chance of havng a significant impact on them.

All I know to do at this point, is to continue to battle spam wherever you encounter it, make sure you have postmaster and abuse address set up for your domain, encourage DH to get their (tested, but withdrawn) SPF stuff working, code your scripts securely, and roll with the blows - IMHO, This is gonna get much worse before it gets any better.

The same suggestions I made previously may have some impact for you: Be up-front about the problem with those you email , and encourage them to provide you with an email address that accepts your mail. etc.

I can easily imagine the day when DH says, “screw it! We are a hosting provider, not an email service, and we don’t need this crap!” Which will complicate life for all of us, as we will need to arrange an alternate email provider, and just hope they don’t suffer the same fate at the hands of these fascist email providers. If reliably getting essential or mission critical email sent and received is imperative for you, I believe, as other users have pointed out before on this forum, you should arrange a seperate commercial email provider, as hosting service domains running under dynamic IP addresses are likely to see this problem only get worse. It is not fair to say it is DH’s fault, or responsibility (past the point of actively policing spam from their domains), as some of these email providers have been known to block whole ranges of ISP’s dynamic IP addresses, or block whole providers’ subscriber bases.

There is a lot of further discussion on this issue all over the web, and in this forum, if you are really interested; but I’d advise against holding your breath for DH, or any other hosting company, to be able to solve it easily for us. Email is changing, some say it is already “dead” and this is just one of the reasons.

I’ really don’t want to sound so discouraging, but it “is” what it “is”. Education, in general, would help but, since the “commercialization” of the internet, the mass infection of the internet by AOL’ers and other clueless/malicious types running amok without a trace of understanding of, or respect for, “netiquette”, email as we know it has been headed down the same path as usenet: toward being meaningless as a useful tool.

It’s a big subject, and I’ve rambled on long enough. I just felt like sharing a little “perspective” on the “bigger picture”.

Hey Duud, can you repost here with your domain so that I can track down your account and support request?

As to response times, viewing the graphs for the last month, 55% of messages were answered within 2 hours and 98% were answered within 24 hours. The average response time was just over 5 hours. We have been growing our support staff very rapidly and are working to get response times down even further.

I understand that rapid growth is potentially disruptive for the already existing customer base, but it is good to point out that DreamHost’s demise which was predicted by a few naysayers when we released our new plans in January, never materialized.

We do have a lot of new customers entering our community though, and for those of us already here, we need to let them know that at DreamHost there is a knowledgeable and helpful group of fellow customers operating on both the forums and the wiki as well as an in-house support staff that is very dedicated to helping them with their problems.

The point is that we are listening. If you have suggestions for how we can do better, I encourage you to make suggestions from the web panel as well as respond to our support surveys which you can fill out after receiving a support reply. The suggestions there (and here in the forums as well) are followed closely and directly affect our priorities.

Working through technical issues such as moving websites, dealing with spam, or setting up a new development environment with a new host can be frustrating, but there is no need to let day to day frustrations bog us down in a dreary cynicism. DreamHost is here doing our best to help make your Web Hosting life easier, and we have a long history of listening to our customers.

Hi. My domain is I have to say that my 3rd and 4th tickets about this issue have gotten much quicker responses from the support people, and to be fair (I just checked) none of the first responses took more than 24 hours, although they were rather close. I’m very happy about Dreamhost prices and features, but judging from my experience, a faster tech support is still needed.

But about the issue at hand… the support person checked mail logs and confirmed my messages do reach Hotmail. I’m contacting them to see what solution they can provide, however I think you guys at Dreamhost should talk to them too. I’m sure they’ll pay more attention to a company with thousands of customers, than they will do to an individual. Besides, I’m probably not the only Dreamhost user with this problem.

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I just tried to find an article I read recently about spam filters, but I can’t find it–I think it was at or (possibly as a .pdf file). Anyway, something you should keep in mind concerning spam filters is, besides the fact that they may not keep out all spam, some companies pay other companies that use spam filters to prevent email from their companies being filtered. If I recall correctly, Hotmail allows all emails from Microsoft through. I’m really sorry I wasn’t able to find that article. While I’m not stating it as fact, it is certainly believable to me, because big companies do things like that.


rlparker wrote:

“…some idiot from a DH server will send spam, and your server will find itself “blocked” again.”

Maybe it’s time for DH to start coming down on users who do that, if they’re the reason we’re all getting killed on this.

Already it seems that DH’s standard response on this (at least to me) is, “We can’t do anything to change AOL, so just use your ISP’s SMTP server. We provide ours as a courtesy, not as an essential part of our hosting service.” Which, as you mentioned, means that we’re just out of luck when it comes to site-generated email. In today’s world of dynamic sites, I wonder how long DreamHost’s customers will put up with it. I’m new here, and this issue is killing me…


Those of us who have been here “awhile” (since 1998 for me) know that there is no “start coming down on users who do that” needed that is not already being done. The quickest way I know of to get “booted” off DH, with no refund and way to even get at your files once you are “shut down” is to try to pump spam from a DH server. You won’t get far, believe me. But exploitable scripts do get loaded by users onto DH servers, and every now and then one of them runs amok, or a user tries to send spam, and while he gets caught and booted, the damage is done in the minds of the “fascist” spam managers at some of these other companies. This is one risk of living on a shared server, and using dynamic IP addresses. It was our choice: we could have set up our own boxes, arranged our own bandwidth, managed our own IP’s, etc, or have someone else do all that by spending “big money”.

Now that’s interesting, as I have not heard DH put it that way before, but (as you know from my previous post) it is not the least bit surprising. Do you think they, or anyone else, can do anything to change AOL? or Hotmail? And it is not just these guys (though they have been the problem of late), Earthlink, has done similar, and a good googling will reveal that DH is not alone in this: whole blocks of dynamic IP addresses form broadband providers have been subjected to this kind of “we won’t process/deliver any mail that comes from your corner of the net” attitude.

I agree with you that we will have to find some way of dealing with it, maybe contract with an email provider for that service (though they will, given time, have the same problem). As for how long DH customers will “put up with it”, my guess would be no longer than they have to - but that presumes they are able to find another provider that doesn’t have this same problem with AOL/Hotmail/etc.

It could be a lot worse, as not all of DH servers are presently “blocked”, and the “blocked ones” will, at some point be “unblocked”, and others that are fine now will get blocked, and the cycle will continue until AOL (which is bleeding customers so fast it makes your head spin) customers start screaming at AOL, “Why can’t I get my mail?”

Me too, and it is not that I am not sympathetic to this issue as it affects us all. I, however, have been here a long time, and have seen these AOL/Hotmail/other “issues” rear their ugly heads, get dealt with, and go away for long period of time before the “rear their ugly heads again”. The “big guys” have the same problem; almost any online store you buy from warns you of this potential problem.

I wish I had a better answer, but I don’t. I do know that, until the net evolves to the next level of email, or somehow we control the @#&% spammers, this is going to be an ongoing problem for all of us on shared hosting everywhere. Any webhost who is not having the problem now, will have the problem at some point in time.

I believe that DH is one of the Best of the Best, and they will do all they can to make it better - but you can’t make someone else do what you want just by wishing it so. I have dealt with AOL for years, and I wouldn’t wish that on people I don’t even like!


richschmidt wrote:

“Already it seems that DH’s standard response on this (at least to me) is, “We can’t do anything to change AOL, so just use your ISP’s SMTP server. We provide ours as a courtesy, not as an essential part of our hosting service.” Which, as you mentioned, means that we’re just out of luck when it comes to site-generated email. In today’s world of dynamic sites, I wonder how long DreamHost’s customers will put up with it. I’m new here, and this issue is killing me…”

I agree with you 100%…

The reason I left my previous host was their poor email features (they had low limits on incoming mail size, they didn’t provide SMTP, etc). When I looked for a new host, the main thing I considered was their email features… me and other users of my site make extensive use of email for business purposes, so we need a fully functional email service. Dreamhost announces this in their plan comparison page, so it is NOT a courtesy or some type of surprise gift they make to their clients, it’s part of the reason you decide to pay for their service in the first place.

I pretty much have gotten the same answer from support… “messages reach hotmail servers, so it’s not our fault if they don’t deliver it to their users”. I know this is not Dreamhost’s fault, but I’d appretiate to be told “it’s hotmail’s fault AND we will talk to them to try to get this solved”.

This is a very serious issue that won’t get solved until there are more intelligent filters, and until much harsher laws against companies that promote theirselves with spam are implemented. But until these things arrive (if they do) it would be good that all parties affected try to force hotmail (and other over restrictive mail providers) to change their methods of dealing with spam. They probably don’t care if this affects a couple of angry users, but if they get lots of complaints from users and companies like dreamhost, and if they start to get negative publicity, they will definitely do something about it.

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Slightly off-topic, but hotmail have the worst spam filters that have ever graced the internet. The account I have there is constantly swamped with tens and sometimes hundereds of spam messages that haven’t changed their format in years, and yet simple activation messages from my site always end up in junk-mail.

DH can’t do anything about it, and the people running hotmail should just crawl into a hole and never make any application again. BTW, yahoo and gmail are much better at filters, so its not a matter of size.

Um, no… nods head yes… A google search for DearAOL AND AOL reveals some troubling info. There are probably lots of other examples.



Ii had the same thought as I was typing that last screed, and I’m a bit conflicted on that (damn you!). I think that Net Neutrality should be “carved in stone” between the terminals, but I think the person who owns the terminal should have some rights as to how they want the terminal used.

I think, for me, it boils down to whether the ISP controls the terminal, or the user/customer controls the terminal. For my purposes, it seems convenient for the “terminal” to be the user, as that is where the connection terminates. Certianly, every ISP I’ve ever seen attempts to “redefine” this, to some degree via their AUP and TOS aggreements. I don’t have a problem, on the face of it, with those types of mutually agreed upon business relationships excepting that they are subject to being “modified at will” by one side of the contractor/customer relationship.

IMHO, however, for an ISP to arbitrarily decide what they will deliver to the customers mailbox seems unfiar on the face of it. Controlling how their servers are used for “originating” seems a little more tolerable, given the complexity of issues like the one we are now discussing and the need to keep the connection from becoming a digital version of “Persona Non Grata”.

I believe DH “has the right” to limit outgoing emails to 100 (or is it now 200? - see my point?) per hour; it just means that I can’t leave a reasonably active dynamic site that relys on sign-up activation emails, order confirmations, auto email notification of new posts, etc. on DH. Their decision, my problem. I mean, we couldn’t host a forum like this one under those rules, as I’ll guarantee you this beast throws out a lot more then 100 emails an hour on many days when discussion are “active”.

I have to wrestle with this some more, but I would be furious if DH started unilaterally deciding what mail it would deliver to me, and that is exactly what I believe describes the process at AOL, Hotmail, and others at present.

I also think there are some practical differences in the concept of Net Neutrality as it is applioed to certian protocols, but you are entirely correct, that strictly speaking, “a packet is a packet”.

I hate it when you make me think :slight_smile:


I’m upping this thread to let other people with the same problem know that I can now email hotmail fine (or so I think, I still have a bit more testing to do)…

The solution in my case has been adding postmaster@ and abuse@ accounts to my domain… I hadn’t tried this before as most people said it was useless, but in my case it seems to have helped.

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Just out of curiosity, are your postmaster and abuse set to real mailboxes, forwarders, or auto-delete/nobounce?


They are forwarders (they point to my catch all address)

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For what it’s worth, I’ve had abuse@ and postmaster@ addresses for awhile, and Hotmail is still silently dropping my emails.