PSA: Mail server settings - you're probably doing them wrong


#1

As many of you undoubtedly know, once you set up an email address at a Dreamhost domain, you can go into Mailbox Manager for that address, where you can find instructions for checking webmail and for setting up your email client.

There is only one problem: the instructions are wrong. I have used them for years and had no reason to suspect there was a problem with those settings. Furthermore, I have opened more support tickets in the past few months than the past few years previous, every single one of them about email problems, and not once did a support person ask me about these settings or advise me they are less than optimal.

In Mailbox Manager, you are told
"To check your email go to webmail.yourdom.ain, then enter the first part of your email address, before the @, and your password to sign in."
— this is no longer correct; you need to enter the full address. (This may be obvious to you or me; it’s not to everybody.)

Mail client settings are given as:
Incoming mail server: mail.yourdom.ain (your domain is literally listed there)
Outgoing (SMTP) mail server: mail.yourdom.ain
— this is no longer correct either.

I just stumbled over a KB article here on Email client configuration. It says, in part,

“There is only one recommended servername (hostname) you should use at DreamHost. It’s your specific mail cluster name your account is assigned to. In the past, it was possible to use mail.example.com to connect (where example.com is your actual domain name). Due to how modern mail clients handle security, this is now NOT recommended as it may throw connection errors. Please ensure you are only using your mail cluster servername when connecting.”

Gee, ya think you could maybe update the mailbox manager instructions, to reflect these changes? or tell people about them when they are dealing with email problems? or find some creative way to let people know where to find the correct settings? I had literally no reason to look beyond the mailbox manager for settings. I have no idea if any of the email problems I’ve been having are related to these settings. But I assume that there is a reason for the new recommendation, and that I would be less likely to have problems if I used those recommended settings.

Since I clearly have to have every customer on every domain make changes to their email settings, I’m going one further and moving all that mail to dedicated email provider MXRoute. I’ve moved one domain over from here to there and couldn’t be happier.

If you’re keeping your email here, make sure you ignore the customized settings you are given with every single Dreamhost mailbox, and advise all your customers to do so as well.

Maybe I’m the only person who wasn’t aware of this. But if not, you’re welcome.


#2

Great, I knew this a few months ago, and I just forced myself to live with it until it’s intolerable.

About a month ago, I find that the server blocked some emails under some domains even I didn’t set it in my anti-spam blacklist.

The only way which Dreamhost told me was "add the FXXKING Domain to the “Whitelist”, so if my client didn’t announce me, I can’t even notice there were missing emails, and I need to FXXKING add all domains to my “Whitelist” to ensure all of them are able to received from my side.

Alright, and now, I just find that the “perfect” server of Dreamhost is really really great.

I can receive any incoming emails from others (or I called it “not mine”), and they can receive all email I send to them (which is not under my Dreamhost account / hosting).

Yet I can’t receive any email in my internal account, okay, let me specify it.

I got 4 domains like a.com, b.com, c.com, and d.com.
I can send out and the recipients can get it perfectly if their email address are not under the mentioned 4 domains in Dreamhost.
From the other side, I can receive all email from the email address which are not under the mentioned 4 domains in Dreamhost.

And now, what’s the problem?

I can’t receive any email from a.com to a.com, or a.com to b.com, or b.com to b.com, whichever the sender or recipient are both under any of those 4 domains under DreamHost server.

So, I am saying “FXXK U, Dreamhost”, which you made my cleints complaints and complaints again and FXXKING again!!!


#3

We are sorry to hear you feel this way. However, the above post should not be what is affecting your email because both settings are correct. If you can provide us with your domain we will be happy to follow up with you.


#4

Keep trying MariT, eventually you will figure out how to properly format a reply. While you’re here, maybe you could address the issues in the OP? and maybe let me know what the current wait time is for a reply to a ticket? It’s 11 hours and counting, to get you to fix a simple misconfiguration on your end. I’d ask on Live Chat but it’s closed.


#5

Everybody makes typos, and statements like this look quite rude. If you notice someone making mistakes, please use that as a chance to show your knowledge and tell them how to improve, whether it is formatting a forum post or misconfiguration of a sql server.

Which is exactly what you did in the initial post, thank you. You have found a quite visible bug on the Mailbox Manager. Thank you for highlighting it, there is an internal issue filed for it and it will be addressed by our developers.

She did, asking for more details because it’s impossible to figure out why emails cannot go from a domain to another domain without proper information. I noticed a lot of people are posting requests for help on the forums but too often they don’t provide enough information to debug the issue. Domain names are public already, there is absolutely no reason to mask them in a forum post: if you decide not to specify things, not to share logs and other useful details, we (readers of this forum) cannot do anything but ignore the message or respond by asking for more details.

From the Support FAQ on DreamHost Knowledge Base:


#6

Fair comment. In context:

  • she is a Dreamhost staffer. The reply that appears there was her second edit. Both the original and the edits are a mess. If you think that is satisfactory for a staff member, I am deeply disappointed.
  • at the time of that post, I was attempting to contact support via Live Chat. It had been offline for at least 90 minutes and remained so for some time thereafter. The only reference on the site to Live Chat being unavailable is that it may be slow at peak times, not that it may ever be down.
  • I was attempting to contact Live Chat because of the tremendous delay in reply to my ticket, regarding an issue which has cost me time and money and, if I did not put paranoid safeguards in place to catch Dreamhost mail problems, would have cost my clients money as well. It may yet cost me a client.
  • to put it all together, it is, to say the least, extremely frustrating that Dreamhost staff is deployed to comment on forum posts at a time when Live Chat is down and tickets are going unanswered. That you expect us, your paying customers, to also coach and train your staff is quite mind boggling.

You’re welcome. I’d be happier if you’d address my tickets directly. It is my job to provide services to my clients, not to you.

No, she didn’t. OP stands for Original Post, or Original Poster. Not for comment. She replied to someone’s comment. She completely ignored the OP.

As for the rest of your rant, I’m kind of stunned, to be honest. There are any number of reasons someone would not want to list domain names in a forum post. Foremost among them is that the domain names may belong to clients. No one wants their domain names to come up in a search associated with problems, especially problems not of their making. If you can’t see potential fallout from that, I don’t know what to say. I would never list a client’s domain name in a forum post, in particular one discussing something like email failing to send/arrive. That belongs in private tickets or Live Chat.

Keep striving. The ticket I referenced remains unanswered. It’s been 1 day and 2 hours now. I broke down and opened a second ticket, referencing the first, providing more information to help point to the solution. Sounds stupid, I know, but Dreamhost inexplicably provides no way to update a ticket, and as previously mentioned, Live Chat was offline. It’s been 16 hours and 20 minutes since I opened that second ticket. And still, dead silence is all I’ve gotten. But here you are, working hard, calling me out with canned FAQ replies that do not reflect reality, and thanking me for catching a problem so widespread it literally affects every single email address on Dreamhost, yet went unnoticed by staff for some indeterminate length of time. Nice priorities!


#7

So it’s been three months and this “quite visible bug” is still there.

What’s the timeline for developers to address internal issues that affect every single Dreamhost mailbox? I couldn’t find it listed anywhere.