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Author Topic: Mail hosting  (Read 3097 times)

adrianw

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Mail hosting
« on: January 19, 2017, 02:44:02 AM »

For many years I have had an expensive Developer Account with Gradwell, providing me with DNS entries, fixed email addresses no matter my ISP, ODMR for pulling email onto my own mail server), SMTP for sending mail, a web site, a domain and web site for a sadly defunct little festival, and shell access.

I have not really needed web sites or shell access for years.

I was relatively happy to continue paying them a quite handsome sum as there were few problems, and when there were they were very responsive, but late last year they introduced their new "cloud" system, defining the old system as "legacy". Almost all control is achieved through their new control panel, which I cannot log in to and it looks as if it will take their full target 5 days before they respond to my ticket.

So, I am looking around for a mail hosting supplier, ideally cheap, who will accept and store mail for a small number of addresses in a domain, host that domain, send incoming mail to my mail host with SMTP ETRN/ODMR and accept SMTP outgoing mail.

I have found a supplier called etrn.com who appear to be able to do all that, from the look of it quite cheaply. Does anybody know anything bad about them?

Does anybody know of another supplier? Smart hosting allowing me to use my fixed email address on outgoing email and ETRN/ODMR for incoming email are critical. Encrypted email transmission would be nice. I really don't want to use POP3 or IMAP.

NB: I do my own mail scanning with ClamAV for viruses, SpamAssassin for spammers. I read mail with a text MUA (mutt on FreeBSD) and have Malwarebytes and Windows Defender on my Windows machines.
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highpriest

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Re: Mail hosting
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2017, 01:16:37 AM »

Your needs are quite specific and I doubt a 'cloud' email provider like Google Apps or O365 will meet your requirements. Why not roll your own? A VPS can be had for very little. For redundancy, you can have two at separate locations. Of course, you will need to set it up and manage it all yourself. I handle my own email (for multiple domains) hosted on VPSes from DigitalOcean and Scaleway.

Good domain registrars (I use Enom and GoDaddy) will give you a nice DNS control panel. DigitalOcean can host your DNS zones as well for free (but they are not a registrar).
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Weaver

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Re: Mail hosting
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2017, 05:38:24 AM »

i'm happy to recommend UKservers in Somerset (trading as VirtualNames)
    http://www.virtualnames.co.uk/email_services.php
whom I have used for many years for my customers and myself. They do customised domain name hosting and registration, excellent email hosting with a DNS control panel plus Apache-based web hosting. Following on from high priest's recommendations, ukservers could be used to register your domain names cheaply and could point them to whichever servers you wish or couldhandle the DNS internally, so could complement highpriest's advice. They don't offer admin-level shell access to servers though.
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adrianw

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Re: Mail hosting
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2017, 06:51:06 AM »

Highpriest: I had thought a bit about a couple of VPSs. Maybe I should think more. Exposing SMTP servers of my own to the internet in general makes me edgy. I did look a little at Google's business service, but decided against it quite early on.

Weaver: Yes, if I go the VPS route VirtualNames could well be a good choice for DNS services, but as Highpriest points out, there are other suppliers. I am not at all keen on using POP3 or IMAP to access mailboxes (pull and delete their content with fetchmail), and really want somebody who supports ETRN or ODMR. This seems very rare.

Meanwhile, Gradwell have now ignored my ticket for over 11 days, but have invoiced me for another year of legacy web hosting. A far cry from 2002 where support emails would be answered in hours, or 2001 when some were answered by PG himself.
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Weaver

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Re: Mail hosting
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2017, 07:41:17 AM »

I do also use 123-reg for DNS too. If memory serves, they don't have the same level of functionality and flexibility quite, but they used to be somewhat cheaper for some domains. They are very good, and I have used both companies for fifteen years.

UKServers do encrypted email in both directions, including encrypted SMTP and SMTP-auth, which is what I use (although with POP3).
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adrianw

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Re: Mail hosting
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2017, 12:21:48 AM »

UKServers do encrypted email in both directions, including encrypted SMTP and SMTP-auth, which is what I use (although with POP3).
Thanks. They do not seem to provide any information/price about this on their web site. I may give them a call, once Gradwell condescend to let me access my account.
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d2d4j

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Re: Mail hosting
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2017, 08:37:17 AM »

Hi

Any reputable host/service provider should provide encryption for smtp, pop and imap, in both directions and always mail server to mail server.

This should be TLS only, as SSL is defunct.

I do not think most providers advertise this, as it is very much a standard for email service

Many thanks

John
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Weaver

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Re: Mail hosting
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2017, 10:49:51 AM »

There did used to be a page about encrypted mail and SMTP-auth, because that's how I got my own settings reg ports updated appropriately. Their tech support is superb though, with actual known humans and friendly. I used them for every customer - after having tried various other good providers - when  I was a self-employed consultant, before I became really disabled/ill.

I use SMTP-auth because I don't use my ISP's email. I have a Sender Policy Framework declaration set up for the domain name used in emails, which in my case currently declares that email comes from ukservers only, but I could also add a few a few extra declared sources of email, such as my ISP, if I needed to, and iirc I did once add Blackberry as an email source declaration. SPF can be set up easily using the ukservers’ DNS control panel which will even write the default declaration out correctly for you.

One drawback. I don't believe they do IPv6 <anything> yet, but I have to admit I haven't rechecked recently. I suppose they might get round to it some day, especially if we ask very nicely. You can declare AAAA records in their servers, but the DNS servers were IPv4 only. Same used to be true for web hosting and email services afaik, which is not such a big deal in practice, but a bit uncool given that I used to be a member of a few IPv6 campaigning/awareness groups.
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d2d4j

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Re: Mail hosting
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2017, 11:09:49 AM »

Hi weaver

Please do not forget about dk/dkims and demarc

SPF has been around for years, but most mail platforms do not score high if used as a lot of domains still do not use spf records

I can only speak for our clusters, but our dns allow full record setup/change/delete, for all record types including srv. However, we do not use des records but the client from the control panel has access to all features, including cloudflare if they want a free or paid direct to CF account

Also, IPv6 takes precedence over IPv4 on mail servers

Please do not misunderstand me, I am not selling, as we do not allow SSH or etrn on shared clusters, just letting you know my thoughts, which are usually wrong anyway sorry

Many thanks

John
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adrianw

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Re: Mail hosting
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2017, 05:44:59 AM »

Meanwhile, Gradwell have now ignored my ticket for over 11 days, but have invoiced me for another year of legacy web hosting. A far cry from 2002 where support emails would be answered in hours, or 2001 when some were answered by PG himself.
I phoned Gradwell Support on Friday afternoon, got my admin ID and a password reset. So, I have been able to set up a fresh direct debit and kill off a domain which will never be used again. It looks as if their legacy systems should keep on running until the autumn. I'll probably leave shifting my email elsewhere for a few weeks.

My new ID was apparently sent to me by email last autumn, but I can find no trace of it. Never arrived, finger trouble on my part ...
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adrianw

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Re: Mail hosting
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2017, 08:29:18 PM »

Last night I signed up with VirtualNames for an advanced email account. I chose them because of recommendations here, having failed to find any UK suppliers with ETRN or ODMR. The one supplier I did find (ETRN,com) was acceptably cheap, but I became twitchy at the thought of all my email flowing through servers in the USA.

Twiddling my fetchmail and sendmail configurations took a while, but mail now seems to be flowing properly in both directions.

I lost some email this morning, because I left configuring my VirtualNames account till today (easy, and the on line help is useful), expecting Gradwell to take a long time (weeks on recent support calls) to change the domain tag, whereas they took just 11 hours.

I wonder how long it will take Gradwell to agree how much I owe them. Pity that a 15 year relationship turned sour when they went cloudy.
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Weaver

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Re: Mail hosting
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2017, 01:24:20 AM »

Let us know how you get on - keep in touch.
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adrianw

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Re: Mail hosting
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2017, 02:25:53 PM »

VirtualNames email and DNS seem to be working fine for me. Mail flows in and out, I don't appear to be loosing any. Happy.
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Chunkers

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Re: Mail hosting
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2017, 05:24:43 AM »

I have looked into setting up my own email server but it looks like a major pain with a domestic ISP connection, reverse, MX and A DNS settings blah blah blah .......................... can't be arsed.

I spend a lot of time away from home and would like excellent web based and mobile support, also to import from gmail etc - could you comment on how well the virtualnames service does this?

Chunks
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Weaver

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Re: Mail hosting
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2017, 05:03:19 PM »

The UKServers aka VirtualNames service gives you the option of pop / imap or two different web server-based mail access facilities, one is more basic and the other is more ajax-y (javascript fanciness).

I use POP on iPhones, iPads and with Outlook. I now use the basic web thingy myself on my own iPad all the time, for some reason. Mrs Weaver uses Apple's email client on her iOS devices all the time. She used to use MS Outlook under Windows, as did all my many customers before I retired.

The Web i/f has excellent facilities for setting up server-side rules / filtering to process mail in various ways. The control panel can do various tricks with mailboxes, aliases for lhs@yourdomain, filtering, protection against spam, malware and exes, and it can also blacklist or whitelist email addresses addresses and domains too in a very flexible manner.

So ticks the boxes with excellent mobile (_encrypted_ POP/SMTP/IMAP) support, well Apple devices handle these standard protocols well anyway.

Don't know the first thing about GMail, perhaps another kitizens would be able to contribute? I don't know about exporting mail from Google-land.

By all means have a chat with them, nice guys. And at £10+vat/p.a. (something like, iirc) there isn't a huge risk associated with giving them a try.

I/we will always be around to give you a hand and their tech support is v fast and real. Some of the tech docs re settings are rather buried (e.g. ports for good encrypted protocols) so a little digging is required, but if digging fails just ask.
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