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Tricked into VPS to Fix Dreamhost's Blacklist Problem
07-09-2013, 06:13 PM
Post: #1
Tricked into VPS to Fix Dreamhost's Blacklist Problem
We've had an incredibly frustrating experience over the last few months and based on our recent experience, I think it is important that other users know some accurate information about Dreamhost's blacklist problems.

We send SMTP emails to our customers frequently through our dreamhost servers. Over the last few months we've been averaging near 30% of these emails that get rejected due to the fact that the relay that dreamhost uses for these emails is constantly on several well-known blacklists. Probably due to the fact that they offer incredibly cheap hosting to anyone who wants it and many of those people are using these inexpensive servers for malicious purposes. I understand that this is a difficult problem to combat, but this has been going on far too long. There's absolutely no way to operate a site with Dreamhost if this is going to be a constant problem.

We have reached out to customer support about this issue many times providing them with the rejected email headers and error messages to try to help them combat the issue. In our latest ticket we were explicitly told that upgrading to a VPS would solve this issue as we would be using a unique IP and would not be sharing it with other accounts. After being convinced by the customer support staff we went ahead and made the switch. Many hours of troubleshooting and many more customer support emails later we were told that the PHP SMTP emails we are sending from the VPS account were still going through the exact same relay and being blacklisted! The VPS does NOT do anything to solve this problem as Dreamhost apparently still funnels all the emails through the same servers that are currently blacklisted for spamming.

I am extremely upset that Dreamhost's customer support staff misled us by saying that the VPS was the only way to resolve this problem. It's incredibly frustrating and we lost many hours of labor trying to resolve it. At this point I think we are going to have to move to a more reputable hosting provider that doesn't constantly get placed on numerous blacklists. We just can't operate like that.

Dreamhost - please get your act together and tell your customer support team to stop misleading your customers to try to trick them into VPS service.
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07-10-2013, 12:41 AM
Post: #2
RE: Tricked into VPS to Fix Dreamhost's Blacklist Problem
Have you thought about separating your services? Specifically hosting and email.

I'm still in the process of testing, but this a is a really good deal: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/exchan...39072.aspx

Essentially you can leave your hosting/dns with dreamhost, and route the email over to an Exchange Online Server.

I think you're going to find out that to solve this problem you will have to separate mail and hosting. Any of the lower cost hosts seem to have mail problems.

Not sure what your hosting needs are but it sounds like you could move back off the VPS to shared, and spend your money on different email. You can even configure email being sent by your webbserver to use the microsoft exchange smtp server, bypassing all of dreamhosts blocked mail queues.

If your not familiar with what an Exchange Server can do for you then you should definitely experiment with the trial. Exchange is a whole different class of mail server designed to work with multiple clients like outlook and popular devices like phones and tablets.
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07-10-2013, 03:25 PM
Post: #3
RE: Tricked into VPS to Fix Dreamhost's Blacklist Problem
Same problem here, and I am on dedicated !
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07-11-2013, 01:29 PM
Post: #4
RE: Tricked into VPS to Fix Dreamhost's Blacklist Problem
On top of that we have been getting constant "unable to connect to mail server" errors. Have been getting these errors frequently over the last 2 days from multiple email clients. I end up having to try to send an email 3 times before it will go through. And even then there's a high probability it gets blacklisted anyways.

Can we get a response from the Dreamhost staff on this? Email is a major part of website hosting and this is a serious problem.
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07-11-2013, 03:06 PM
Post: #5
RE: Tricked into VPS to Fix Dreamhost's Blacklist Problem
dreamhost mail is no worse (or better) at email now than it ever has been. Dreamhost does try, and they have adopted several policies over the last few years that help greatly. The only time dreamhost will have a good mail service is when they offer two levels, the current level being one and a premium mail service at additional cost. One of the features that premium service will offer is your own IP addresses for originating mail. Thus if you end up blacklisted it's your own fault.

Of course you can currently get that somewhere else too =] Few DNS entries (and some propagation time) and your email issues can be gone.

Dreamhost's strength is web hosting not email. Check around you will find that the companies that offer great email either aren't in the hosting business, it's and entirely separate division of a very large organization, or they offer poor hosting alongside there awesome email service.
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07-18-2013, 08:30 AM
Post: #6
RE: Tricked into VPS to Fix Dreamhost's Blacklist Problem
I had similar problems and found that moving from PHP's mail() to using authenticated SMTP (which adds dkim keys as well, useful to avoid being considered spammers) not only resolved most of my problems with outgoing emails but also gave me back the bounces in case of unreachable addresses, that previously were saved to servers's mail directory no matter what reply-to address I was setting.
If this doesn't solve, you can always use services like SendGrid for transictional mails (notification, password recover and so on).
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07-21-2013, 07:55 AM (This post was last modified: 07-21-2013 07:56 AM by tardis.)
Post: #7
RE: Tricked into VPS to Fix Dreamhost's Blacklist Problem
We've got quite a large list going of all the blacklists DreamHost's servers are on. Comcast, Roadrunner, AT&T, and many of the other 3rd party lists. It's absolutely ridiculous that DreamHost can't offer a separate relay for their VPS or dedicated customers. They need to take action to do something about this.

And we are already using SMTP authenticated emails. That has done little to solve the problem.
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07-22-2013, 06:54 PM
Post: #8
RE: Tricked into VPS to Fix Dreamhost's Blacklist Problem
Our sincere apologies for the frustrating experience you had, and for the prior misunderstanding. Indeed, whether you are on a shared web server or a VPS, messages sent using SMTP to connect to your DreamHost-hosted mail accounts on the DreamHost mail server will be sent through there. Mail block is a rather extreme form of spam filtering, where all emails from a single server or IP are rejected, regardless of their contents or anything about them at all. Mail sent using PHP's mail(), sendmail, or similar, would go through the VPS' local postfix mail system and then out directly to the recipient; it will not pass through any other DreamHost relay/server. If you use SMTP, your code connects directly to whatever SMTP server you specify (ours) and mail is sent through that server. Mail sent through the VPS' local mail system is only your mail, and no one else shares that IP address for anything, therefore should not run into blacklisting issues (unless of course you're spamming all over the place). It's not our intent to mislead you, and if using SMTP is absolutely necessary, I can help with canceling the VPS or with anything else on your account. Please let me know and I'll be glad to assist.

Aside from the VPS postfix option, we can also offer a move to newer shared servers (that are unaffected at the moment), and our security team has been working to relay the affected IPs to AT&T and other providers to have them unblocked as quickly as possible once reported. It did take some time initially for us to get the situation straightened out with them despite various efforts, but we now have it under much tighter control and are keeping eyes out constantly for any new blocks. If you have any on your list that are still currently posing an issue, please contact support from your panel with it, and we'll get it to our security team right away!

This all said, LakeRat does also make a valid point. While we stand by all services we provide (especially web hosting) and are working hard to improve our shared email service, it may still be worth looking into specialty/primary email providers when you need it for important business purposes.
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07-29-2013, 01:01 PM
Post: #9
RE: Tricked into VPS to Fix Dreamhost's Blacklist Problem
Sean - thanks for the response. Always good to know the staff is aware and working on the issue. And I also appreciate the clarification about the different relays for the various PHP mailing options.

That being said, we have still been having consistent issues with SMTP blacklists on our current server and I think it would be good to take you up on the offer to "move to a newer shared server (that is unaffected at the moment)". Please let me know if there's any information I need to provide to make this happen. The board doesn't seem to allow sending PM's, so please let me know if there is a better method to communicate.

Again, thank you for the response
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07-29-2013, 01:38 PM
Post: #10
RE: Tricked into VPS to Fix Dreamhost's Blacklist Problem
Nooo, don't move to a shite shared :-)

You should rather move to dedicated, really !
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