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E-mail Hosting Recommendations?

By Carsten | April 2, 2010

If you think I’ve been a long time in replying to your e-mails in the past month or so, there’s a good explanation for that.

For the past many years, I’ve been using an e-mail hosting provider that prides itself on offering a special class of services. Things have actually been very good, with few hiccups along the way. However, for the past month, things have seriously gone downhill with e-mails taking hours or even days to arrive.

And the problem is indeed with the provider: The Received: headers tell their own very sad story on just how long it takes for an e-mail to progress through their internal systems.

Worse, the support people are being less than helpful, refusing to recognize the problems and doing nothing to communicate what they are doing to resolve their problems.

Below is a quick analysis of just how things have been in March. The times shown are from the time an e-mail first enters the provider’s network (according to the first Received header with the provider’s IP) until actual delivery (last Received: header, which coincides with the time that I see the mail in my client).

Some 40% of the emails take more than 5 minutes to arrive. Whenever I trigger something in a web form that requires me to confirm an e-mail, there’s a 1 in 5 chance that I’ll be waiting for an hour or more before that e-mail arrives.

Clearly, this doesn’t work. What’s worse, this isn’t just a single-day fluke: This has been going on throughout the month:

(Note that avg/median times are on the scale to the left; max times are on the scale to the right. Click for larger version)

So now the hunt is on to find an e-mail hosting company which can provide a proven, stable service, preferably one in Scandinavia or elsewhere in Northern Europe.

Yes. I’ve considered Google Mail. But I value my privacy too much.

Topics: MySQL, php |

5 Responses to “E-mail Hosting Recommendations?”

  1. Mads Says:
    April 2nd, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    I agree with the google comment. I’m not letting them near my mails either.
    For me the solution has been to get a box at hetzner.de and do the work myself. If you’re not willing to go that far, then perhaps http://pobox.com is a good choice. They’ve got a bunch of smart people and they have a good reputation.

  2. Serverhorror Says:
    April 2nd, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Personally I’m a fan of Zimbra, and while (to me) it’s mostly self hosting, they have quite an extensive list of service providers.

    I’d try one of them…

  3. Anders Says:
    April 3rd, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    I my self have been using fastmail.fm for 2 years now, they are extremely reliable and fast as the name implies . I have nothing but good thinks to say about them.

  4. Marten Mickos Says:
    April 3rd, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    I value privacy and I try to avoid lock-in, so here is what I do:

    I have an eternal private email address mgm@iki.fi which I can point to whichever email service provider I happen to be using at the moment.

    For email service, I have been using Fusemail for the last two months. But they just aren’t good enough, so I am switching back to Yahoo mail. I can make these changes without anyone I email with having to know.

    Because I value privacy and full control (and offline use), I use Thunderbird’s email client and have copies of all my emails on my own laptop.

    Marten

  5. dmh Says:
    April 4th, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Do it yourself. Rent a VM and build your own mailserver. I’ve recently done that using postfix, dovecot, dspam/clamav, and roundcube webmail and was surprised how solid these projects are. And don’t forget to configure postfix with spamhaus rbls which do a fantastic job.

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