Slow Webmail


#1

First off, I understand Dreamhost doesn’t recommend using Squirrelmail as your main email client because it taxes the servers. From what I’ve been told by support they cut server resources to it as soon as the server load gets too high.

My problem is it is often so slow during the middle of the day it can’t even be used as an occasional backup when I am away from my desk and need to check my messages. I mean why even offer it if it is going to take 30 seconds to load a page? Between this issue and the outgoing mail problem that has been dragging on I think I might have to shop for a new host yet again, which sucks.

When there were about 100 users on my server (the first week I signed up), it was fine, but now there are 722 users and webmail has been rendered somewhat useless. I can appreciate the fact you want to keep the web snappy, but email is just as important.

Dallas, you are occasionally on this board, any thoughts?

Thanks.
Lyndon.


#2

[quote]First off, I understand Dreamhost doesn’t recommend using Squirrelmail
as your main email client because it taxes the servers.

[/quote]

Urk! Did you really get that in writing?

[quote]My problem is it is often so slow during the middle of
the day it can’t even be used as an occasional backup

[/quote]

My problem is that it is the only client that can get to JF quarantine. It was a big error not to make JFQ available by internet standard mail interfaces IMO.

[quote]I mean why even offer it if it is going to take 30 seconds to load a page?

[/quote]

For ages on one (JFed) mailbox here it was taking more like a minute. DH put effort into trying to find out why, to no avail. They did tell me that it copied the entire inbox, bodies and all, when opening (even if you are viewing just the first page of message list) so perhap[s the fact I had 2000 messages was the cause. And deleting all messages above 200K, leaving just 700, did halve the start-up time to 30s. Then amazingly a week ago the problem just evaporated - start-up now takes 3s. Support has no idea why. We’ll see how long it lasts… fingers crossed…


#3

We don’t cut server resources to Squirrelmail at any point. It is true that it’s not the most efficient email client, but it should mostly work as long as your mailboxes are not too large. I personally try to never keep more than maybe 900-1000 messages in any mailbox I use regularly. I find that more than that makes it noticeably slower in any IMAP client.

Webmail runs on a separate bank of servers and accesses your email server so it is not affected at all by the number of users on your hosting server. Just fyi!

Usually when webmail is sluggish it is due to the back-end email servers not serving up the data as fast as they should. We are deploying some additional email servers this week and expect that to speed up email some more.

  • Dallas
  • DreamHost Head Honcho/Founder

#4

[quote]SquirrelMail … should mostly work as long as your mailboxes are not too large.

[/quote]

Dallas, what makes this look so mickey-mouse is it seems DH can never give an answer to what is ‘too large’. E.g. the fault I reported recently wherein Delete just fails to delete the messages - with not even an error to warn. Support’s response:

[quote]The webmail program we use is not perfect, but it has suited the average
users needs.

[/quote]

[/quote]

and then when pressed

[quote]This definitely appears to be a limitation of the software when the inbox gets
too large. It appears to be a file size issue rather than a number of messages
issue. We do not know the cut off for when the feature will work correctly or not.

[/quote]

See that “too large” again? DH doesn’t find “We do not know the cut off for when the feature will work correctly or not” good engough for any other service, so why for this?


#5

It’s really variable. There’s no one number we can give you. It does depend on the size of the messages themselves as well as the number of messages. Like I said in my previous message, I usually recommend not having more than 900-1000 messages in any IMAP folder you access regularly.

I did find some things we can look into that might improve Squirrelmail’s performance so I’ll add that to the todo list.

  • Dallas
  • DreamHost Head Honcho/Founder

#6

[quote]There’s no one number we can give you.

[/quote]

That is indeed the problem.

[quote]I usually recommend not having more than 900-1000 messages

[/quote]

Quite what the use of that is, I don’t know. It doesn’t solve the delete bug and login delay.


#7

[quote]I did find some things we can look into that might improve
Squirrelmail’s performance so I’ll add that to the todo list.

[/quote]

You know, I’m sure more fruitful than optimisation would be invesigation of the currently very variable performance. E.g. one week it can take nearly a minute to login, and then next, with similar number and size of messages, it can take a couple of seconds. It is almost as if there’s some simple validity check error in the management of a cache, perhaps of the mailbox contents which (Support tells me) is copied in entirety from the mail machine to the SquirrelMail machine upon SM login.


#8

Do you check email via IMAP at the same time as using Squirrelmail? I’ve generally thought the issues with webmail performance can be traced directly to the email server loads. I’m wondering if you see slow IMAP or POP at the same time Webmail is slow. Squirrelmail uses IMAP, but it is not as efficient as desktop email clients (at least partially due to the limitations of a web-based interface) so it might be more noticeably affected.

Squirrelmail just downloads all the headers of your messages over IMAP as far as I know. I’ve never looked into it.

If it does turn out that Squirrelmail itself has significant performance problems independent of our IMAP servers, we will definitely look into other options. I know some of our customers don’t like Squirrelmail much.

  • Dallas
  • DreamHost Head Honcho/Founder

#9

I don’t care for Squirrelmail at all its very slow. So I just don’t bother to use it. So you are right a lot of us don’t care for it lol.


#10

[quote]Do you check email via IMAP at the same time as using Squirrelmail?

[/quote]

Sometimes POP. I recently saw SM login take 30s when POP took 15s. Right now (2045 msgs, 49Mb) SM has no appreciable delay and POP likewise. But I’ll check more in future and let you know.

[quote]I’ve generally thought the issues with webmail performance can be traced directly to the email server
loads. I’m wondering if you see slow IMAP or POP at the same time Webmail is slow.

[/quote]

I don’t. Only rarely is there a POP3 delay. I’ve never seen POP take more than 15s. Whereas SM is sometimes taking over a minute.

[quote]Squirrelmail just downloads all the headers of your messages
over IMAP as far as I know. I’ve never looked into it.

[/quote]

It needs only 25 to fill the initial message list. It is bonkers to download /all/ of the message headers, as Support confirms it does:

[quote]…> That reads all of the messages in your webserver than passes the messages
…> to squirrelmail at it’s pace.

[/quote]

No wonder “Dreamhost doesn’t recommend using Squirrelmail as your main email client because it taxes the servers” ! DH’s removal of quarantine from IMAP (Razor) to SquirrelMail (JF) has surely increased the number of SM logins greatly. It seems to me this would be good to fix for the benefit of all IMAP users as well as Quarantine readers. And surely the appropriate fix is to get Quarantine back out of SquirrelMail, ratehr than try to fix the SM itself, never designed for that.


#11

[quote]> Squirrelmail just downloads all the headers of your messages

[quote]over IMAP as far as I know. I’ve never looked into it.

[/quote]

It needs only 25 to fill the initial message list. It is bonkers to download /all/ of the message headers, as Support confirms it does:
[/quote]

You took me too literally. I would assume Squirrelmail would only grab the headers it needs. I’ve never actually watched it, though! That’s probably a question for the squirrelmail devs.

Thanks for the info here.

  • Dallas
  • DreamHost Head Honcho/Founder

#12

[quote]I would assume Squirrelmail would only grab the headers it needs.

[/quote]

I would too. Support says otherwise.

[quote]Thanks for the info here.

[/quote]

Thanks for listening.