Warning: Email account deletion for 'violation' of unknown policy

Yesterday i received an email from a DH bot stating that my primary email account ‘is using a large amount of disk space that is not being regularly read or deleted’, and that the account would be deleted in 48hrs.

Nowhere can i find any statement in the T&C or in the Support material any indication of mailbox size limits, and my account is an older one that does not have any disk limit whatsoever.

I have raised a ticket for this, but it has been shuffled around departments, and despite being assured a 4-8hr response it has been 24hrs with no response.

At this point i expect that my email account (that i am regularly reading and deleting emails from) to be deleted after 48hrs with there being no recourse for me.

Significantly pissed off about this situation, and posting here for visibility and a warning for others.

FYI for others seeing this.

This is typical of many, if not all, hosts. They really expect you to keep your archives (especially mail and server logs) neat and tidy.

It’s in the AUP: https://www.dreamhost.com/legal/acceptable-use-policy/ Scroll down to the “Personal Backups” section.

Well, unlimited is never really unlimited with regard to disk space. (You are, for instance, limited by the physical size of the server.) Read the Unlimited Policy: https://www.dreamhost.com/legal/unlimited-policy/

For security reasons if no other, you really should keep your online mail archives to a minimum. Just deleting in an email client doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s getting deleted from the server.

I hope you get this resolved to your satisfaction.

That is just as grey as everything else. What constitutes an archive? 10 emails, 100 emails? 1 week, 1 year…

Without knowing more about your mail stats and settings, it’s hard to guess what triggered this email to be sent.

However… Dreamhost really shouldn’t do these 48 hours or die emails. If there is a problem with your email account size, that problem certainly wasn’t created in 48 hours. It doesn’t surprise me that dreamhost sent an email like that, they’ve done similar things over the years. 48 hours isn’t enough time to deal with it (what if that email came while you/I were out of the country?) On the flip side, I also know users tend ignore things that say 30 day warning.

If I were able to advise dreamhost how to handle such a situation, I would suggest the policy first become more black and white, Second, the sent emails sent should link the policy and be explicit about which part of the policy is causing the problem. Finally, the emails for something like this issue should have a 30day countdown clock attached and a new reminder email sent each morning with the subject line “Email deletion in [30/29/28/27/26…] days.” (maybe 30 days is long, but 48 hours is WAY too short)

As for the AUP linked above, that has apparently been updated since I last read it. How would I know if I was doing something wrong? You’re also correct that it’s pretty grey about what is acceptable.

Edit to add: Another process that could certainly work is to keep the 48 hour message to get the users attention, but also have a single use automated time extender link. For example a link in the email that says “Need more time? click here and we will extend the deadline 14 days.” When clicking the link the user should be given a specific date and time that the future action will take place.

One of my users got this message over the weekend. This users’s mailbox was around 4 gigabytes in size.

We’ve been using Google Apps instead of Dreamhost since April of 2016. All of our mail was copied from Dreamhost into Google Apps. Once I changed the MX records, there was no way to tell Dreamhost to remove the accounts from their mail server.


Aren’t old messages automatically deleted ?

And can you tell me if using Google apps to send emails is also a chance to see less of your messages going to spam box ?

Thank you.

There are settings for that, to find them edit a mail user or mailbox in the panel or use the mailboxes.domain.tld interface. They default to on, but are easily disabled.

48hrs is ridiculous, especially when support only gets back to you 47h34m after the email was sent.
As it happens I am currently on holidays in Australia, and have no access to enough data quota to be able to back up anything, so if my primary email account gets nixxed up the creek.

What is more, the ‘clarification’ i sought from DH is woeful. Apparently there is now a limit of 4 forwarding email addresses to a single hosted email. This is supposedly what has queued my primary email for deletion, despite the fact that the forwarding addresses are misspellings of my primary email, and are not ‘fill[ing] up the user account quickly.’

Still no insight into how big a mailbox can or cannot be either.

Hello folks, I’m sorry to hear about this issue. I have asked around and indeed, these notification emails have been introduced recently and they’re still being tuned. I’ve forwarded this conversation to the upper management, to make them aware of @plebeians corner case.

In any case, @plebeians Tech Support should be able to give you a temporary exemption to the 48h notice.

No the messages on the Dreamhost server aren’t automatically deleted. We haven’t had any trouble with messages we send ending up in the receiver’s spam box.

I got this message too. I am pissed.

My email is about 3GB… which is not only less than the 15GB that GMAIL gives you for signing up, but that is pretty damn slim for being a Dreamhost customer for 17 years.

The “Acceptable Use Policy” specifically states importing mail and archiving other accounts.

I guess it depends on what your definition of “or” is:

Nevertheless, there is this:

Again, storing large amounts of mail data online can be a security risk. Do you really need that email from seven years ago? Probably not. Best to archvie it offline where it is safe.

We apologize for an inconvenience. We have updated our Unlimited Policy (https://www.dreamhost.com/legal/unlimited-policy/) and ask that customers keep their inbox under 2GB. We would not be making this request if we it weren’t so important for mail stability. Also while your inbox was not too much over the 2GB limit please keep in mind that the other criteria is that you do not use your email as a catch-all and keep your forwards to less than 5.

That’s great that you updated your policy and made things so clear. However I purchased a multi-year hosting package several years ago. As per “my” terms of service (and US law) which I have been referencing in my comments, the current policies do not apply to my relationship with Dreamhost until I opt in (which automatically happens on a service renewal). Dreamhost can’t arbitrarily change policies without notice and consent, expect users to follow them, and purposefully delete data. Aside from that being unprofessional, it’s a breach of contract.

When I agreed to the Terms of Service, Unlimited Policy and Acceptable Use Policy:

  1. Email fell under the advertisement of unlimited services and was not excluded as it is now.
  2. There was no disclaimer that Dreamhost could delete mail archives at any time.
  3. The prohibited activities of “backups” and “archiving” were clearly defined as uploading materials for online storage. There would be no way to construe “old email” as the prohibited archiving.

Things change, I get it. I’ve seen Dreamhost change a lot in 20 years (customer for 17 years, but it started at the college next to mine and several friends were the first employees).

When things change, you still have to honor your existing agreements. You can’t tell customers that bought a hosting package specifying certain things as “unlimited” and “approved” that you suddenly changed your mind – and that’s what dreamhost is doing. Applying new restrictions to old customers like that is a breach of their contract.

Beyond that, I really don’t understand how people are supposed to deal with a max of 5 forwarding address. For example, I have 9 email addresses registered with a specific vendor – 1 is a “master” id, 8 are accounts dedicated to specific projects/clients (which bill-into the master) and forward 2-3 two-factor auth emails into the master a year. Why is this bad? Serious. Does Dreamhost recommend that I have 9 separate IMAP accounts, or should I split them into 2?

Also, where is this limitation documented?

The Dreamhost Email FAQ your system drives people to (https://help.dreamhost.com/hc/en-us/articles/215572387-Email-FAQs) clearly advertises unlimited email addresses.

Incidentally, it also celebrates unlimited email disk space (a 1gb max is recommended for performance, but “unlimited email” is the sales pitch). Don’t you think it’s a little bit deceitful to have a “pre sales” email FAQ that promises unlimited email, but also threaten to delete existing customer emails by citing an “acceptable use policy” that says email is /not/ unlimited? Before you critique the FAQ as outdated information, the document was updated on January 9th 2017.

I have also received this email and I have attempted to contact support. I have been waiting for a reply for 39 hours and counting.

cc @smaffulli

I believe I was able to locate your account and sent you a follow up email. If you have any questions please feel free to reply back to it.

Thanks for summing up almost all of my complaints regarding this.

I’ve been a customer for 12 years. I have no problem reducing my email size but the timeframe given is not enough. I have 200,000+ e-mails to move from old-messages to my inbox to backup locally. I’ve been trying to do this with Outlook for a week and I’m not even 25% done backing it up, and my files are scheduled to be deleted today. Support tickets have been opened but every reply is basically too bad, here is the policy. I am trying to comply - but you have to give me time. There really is no mail client out there that I can find that can move 200k+ emails from one folder to my inbox. It is a very manual process. I also asked if the email can systematically be moved to my inbox but that question was ignored.

Any help would be great. If my e-mail gets deleted on this short timeframe, I will be moving on to a new host as that is unacceptable. I don’t have any backups.

Also, the backup process failed for that e-mail account so I can’t even use that.

Recently there’s been some talk here about emails sent to customers whose email boxes have grown to about 2GB. These messages have sounded particularly scary, explaining a policy that gives many people too little time to shrink their inboxes. We also apologize for not communicating clearly the changes in our terms of service regarding email storage policies.

We investigated internally why this very brief deadline of 48 hours was decided upon, and want to share the results with you.

During 2016 our email product team was pushed very hard to fix the issues that visibly plagued email users: lots of mail servers were under a tremendous amount of cascading failures that rendered the system very unstable, leaving many customers affected negatively. Since then, the email team has been revamped, most email server infrastructure updated, and we introduced atmail and Vade antivirus/antispam filters. All this brought improved stability and overall happier users.

The Email team is not done with the improvements though, and while work continues, the team started to be more conservative in managing disk space to avoid disruptions. This is the source of this “email size limit” policy. This push for smaller mailboxes is one part of the overall revamp of our email infrastructure, keeping inbox size smaller to limit the chances of issues affecting all customers. The sharp 48 hour deadline is considered necessary, even if it’s painful.

Our support team has been instructed to provide exceptions: if you need more time to move your archives to an offline system, please contact our support team asking for an extension of the deadline and they will be happy to work with you.

Please realize these emails were crafted with the best intentions, even if they come across as nastygrams. We’re constantly working to improve our overall email experience. Stay tuned for more announcements this year!

I was given a few days extension (expires today) and have been copying e-mails to the inbox then backing up locally since then, however I still need more time and was told no exemption would be granted nor extension given.

My concern isn’t with the e-mail being “nasty”, it is with not being given enough time to get in compliance. I use this e-mail for work related items, some of which I need to retain.