Setting up forward-only deletes email account and no way to recover?

I’m working on a website and email for a small business (about 40 staff).
I was looking at forwarding everyone’s email addresses to email accounts on a new domain name (with a different host).
I went to bulk-edit forwarding-only addresses, as I assumed this would forward the email accounts. I tested it with the dreamhost accounts forwarding to the new accounts, then removed the forwarding rules.
When I returned to manage the accounts, the email accounts had all disappeared.

This is a HUGE problem.
I’ve contacted Dreamhost support, and all I’ve heard is that they can’t restore the deleted email accounts. I’ve tried to escalate the matter but they’ve come back with the same response.

Can someone explain why what I did would delete the accounts and why there wasn’t any warning or information about this when selecting this option? It doesn’t have any indication that changing an active account to a forwarding-only account will remove the account, and when removing the forward it just says ‘Use Delete for that special action’.

Can someone also explain if I have any other options to retrieve the email accounts? I’ve tried looking in the maildir folder in the domain backups, but this doesn’t appear to have large enough files to represent emails. Even a backup from a month ago would be better than nothing.

Is there anything else I can ask dreamhost to do? They must have a backup, because otherwise how would they respond if they had issues with one of their mail servers?

Thanks for you help with this anyone!!!

(I usually use cPanel, and notice that they don’t have this option easily accessible (for forwarding only accounts) and the panel contains a lot more information and warnings.)

Sounds like you did this blind to 40 mailboxes without any test cases done in advance.

As has always been dreamhost has never been strong in 2 area in general “email” and “backups”, unfortunately your in a vector that both those areas intersect.

I’m not sure what can de done to be honest, I’ve never deleted an email account on dreamhost, if anything I just have made accounts inactive.

Hmm. Thanks for the info. I did test it on one mailbox and it seemed to work, but it turns out that anytime you put an active mail account in the bulk-edit forwarding-only the mailbox gets deleted and can’t be recovered no matter what. Crazy.
I didn’t realize DreamHost works this way. Usually I’m with another host that does offer backups, you just need to pay to access them and it’s not guaranteed, so going from that to nothing at all seems pretty slack.
I appreciate your response.

I’ve created a bug for our development team to investigate this issue. I’m not sure whether this was intended behavior or not, but either way it’s definitely not what you wanted! :frowning: