Repeatedly seeing error report "procmail: Error while writing to "/var/mail/dhmail"

I’ve been seeing this problem on and off on my account for the better part of two years. It happens without any notification whatsoever. Only the sender gets the error message back. Dreamhost is oblivious to the problem until I report it to them.

Tech support’s response is that this is something that occurs infreuquently. And they are able to resolve the issue swiftly once they begin to work it.

I am so frustrated with this problem, that I am beside myself. I am only hanging in with Dreamhost because they’re cheap and I haven’t found the time to investigate any alternative providers or the process of moving my (limited number of) hosted sites to another hosting company. *No threat here. Just honestly sharing my frustration level.

In any event, does anyone here know what I or Dreamhost can do differently to prevent this problem from occurring in the future?

Thanks Much,


Full text of the error message is below with actual email address struck out for privacy.

This is the mail system at host

I’m sorry to have to inform you that your message could not
be delivered to one or more recipients. It’s attached below.

If you are a current customer of DreamHost, please contact our
technical support team here

If you are not a customer please use our contact form at.

If you do so, please include this email in your support ticket. You can
delete your own text from the attached returned message.

   DreamHost Email Support (expanded from can’t create user output file. Command
output: procmail: Couldn’t read
"/mnt/peace/vol/boot/homie/cabbaraa/x12991011/.procmailrc" procmail: Error
while writing to “/var/mail/dhmail”

Per the email one of our techs just sent you:

[quote]The error was caused by the way the procmail message filters for the
****** mail account were setup on the server. The
actual filer location where the mailbox is stored was changed, and this
normally-seemless process did not properly update the message filters
with the new location. I’m very sorry for the problems caused by this
error on our part. I corrected the message filters configuration and test
email was delivered to the inbox successfully.[/quote]

That explains the immediate cause of the issue. As for the root cause, our mail admins are aware of this issue and working to improve things to prevent occurrences of this issue. Thank you for your continued patience as we work on the fix!

Two years is a long time to be working on a fix.

DH_Elle S,

I want to thank you because, again, the support team is quick to resolve this issue once they begin to work it. However, as sXi points out, two years is a long time for someone to be working on fixing this. I know that the support team isn’t responsible for the fixes; however, the person(s) responsible for resolving this issue don’t work in the forums and no one else (support or otherwise) takes responsibility for insuring that appropriate follow through is happening. At the end of the day, I continue to experience this problem two plus years later (I just checked to be certain and my first occurrence of this happened on 1/28/11 (Jan 28, 2011 - 16:38:29 / #4183567).

The really frustrating part about it is that the problem happens silently: there’s no notification back to me about the problem, people who send me email are the ones who get the notification of the problem (can include business partners/clients, job opportunities, listserv and teacher emails from my children’s schools, order information from websites that I shop on, in addition to the normal subscription emails that I get daily), and the emails are dropped completely (aren’t queued, require manual intervention on the part of the sender to retransmit the message).

At this point, it’s clear that while no one at DH will say that they don’t care, there’s no real interest in resolving this problem for me because I continue to renew my subscription. I just wonder how many others are suffering from this issue. There’s nothing fancy about my account (at least to my knowledge) that should make me any more vulnerable to this problem than anyone else. Yet, I continue to be plagued with this issue multiple times a year. I am sick and tired of suffering in silence from this issue.

Fact: I am giving DH one last chance to resolve this problem in a permanent fashion. The next time this happens to me or one of my users, I’m taking my sites off DH and moving to another hosting company.


You are absolutely right, and make completely valid points! Unfortunately our developers who work on these issues do not frequent this forum as often as some of our other DreamHost employees. I’m sorry to hear this issue has been ongoing for you for so long. This particular bug that you are affected by is a rather difficult case, but I can assure you our development team is aware and working on the fix. That said, thank you again for voicing your feedback; As I mentioned to you on Twitter, I will definitely pass it along. Thanks again for your cooperation and patience as well. We will do everything we can to get this resolved!

This is exactly the error I opened a support ticket about today, 11 months after the last post here. I’ve not gotten any email in ~24 hours now.

Bounce message to the sender shows:

Generating server:

#< #5.2.0 x-unix; procmail: Couldn’t read “/mnt/azmodan/vol/boot/homie/cheapened/x9749493/.procmailrc” procmail: Error while writing to “/var/mail/dhmail”> #SMTP#


Today, 3 years later of the original message, I was bitten by this bug.

I realize the level of frustation of this issue: no way to know it until somebody outside your organization have the time to notify you.

I hope support can have a quick fix for me, and a longer term solution to this issue.

It’s highly possible that what you’re experiencing is a different issue though: many things have changed in 3 years. By the look of it, we can’t do much to help on the forums: did you already open a ticket? If not, I suggest you to open one asap.

I talk with a support guy at the live chat, I hope that it’s equivalent to opening a ticket.

About the issue, I’m guessing it’s the exact same issue because the error message is almost the same, only the path to the procmail file changed. And by google that error I reached this page.

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