Archive

Email servers are they different?

Today, I’m going to share a bit on the common type of email servers in the web hosting market and integrated into the web control panel. Most of us email and why should I know which type of email server is used. Aren’t they are the same. Actually, you are almost correct but how they have served and behaviour will affect the incoming and outgoing emails, and likely your mailbox too.

There are 4 common types of email servers; Exim in cPanel, Postfix in Plesk, Mailenable and Smartermail. All are free except SmarterMail if you are creating the No.11 mailbox you need to buy a license. Exim and Postfix are free and they are the popular choice in the Linux world. However, these known as MTA they are limited to SMTP, unlike Mailenable and SmarterMail, the email servers will take care of all protocols.

In fact, they all can rate limit the speed of connecting and sending emails. Exim is more flexible than Postfix, the more it is flexible, similarly, it will be more complex. To an end user, it will not make a difference unless you are administrating the mail server. These two MTA are Linux based, thus the commands are shell command line, while Mailenable and SmarterMail are Windows-based, you do not use the more complex PowerShell command, most things can be done from the server’s interface.

So far, only SmaterMail and Mailenable have their own webmail, Postfix is used by Plesk and Exim is used by cPanel, they use the free ones and opensource webmail like horde. The free webmails look boring. In your 1st glance, you are not likely to continue with webmail but maybe an Outlook or ThunderBird.

However, it is a big difference if you are using SmarterMail. The webmail is intuitive. The anti-spam and anti-virus come default can screen emails with the desired value of each RBL and many more. Even a non-technical savvy person will not take much time and set up those functions. In addition, the IDS protection is something you cannot find in any of those email servers.

I personally found the reports are useful in SmarterMail. There are usage statistic for mailboxes and domain, the type of traffic, the number of spam emails was received etc. These are especially good to pinpoint areas and downgrade or upgrade email server.

Despite that those MTA I have mentioned serve the purpose connecting people and send emails. If you drill down deeper, you can find actually email server by SmarterMail can do more and let you see better, Yes, SmarterMail is a paid software unless it is for 10 and below mailbox which is free, but I will opt or SmarterMail for the business collaboration tools, enhanced email functions and protections. In a way, it helps in email delivery, communication and administration, saved you a lot of money and time.

SmarterMail 17 is here soon

Version 17 of SmarterMail is launching a couple of weeks, but it’s beta and available to test now!

This is your chance to work directly with the Developers in
the community to finalize the release. Please take this opportunity to ensure the upgrade and conversion process works flawlessly for your environment. Smartertools have spent an enormous amount of time on this release and want it to be the best possible experience for all customers, and your feedback is critical for that success!

What new features are waiting for you?

The entire backend of SmarterTools has been re-built on the latest technologies allowing for significant speed and memory improvements.
For extremely large installations, SmarterMail will load 2 to 3 times faster.
Extensive redesigns for all protocols (EAS, EWS and WebDAV) will offer faster and more consistent results. The SmarterTools team spend a couple weeks working with Microsoft in Redmond and made some amazing improvements as a result.
Team Workspaces now includes native video and audio conferencing via WebRTC. No more need for third party integrations.
Group Chat now includes native video and audio conferencing, and the ability to preview shared files and more.
Two-Step Authentication, for more secure access to your most important resource: your email account.
Indexing optimizations to reduce memory and CPU but speed up the indexing process.
Significantly more logging in all areas of the product.
Improved calendar sharing, including sharing secondary calendars and the ability to sync shared calendars with the most popular email clients when using EAS or EWS.
On-demand content filters that can be run any time you want.
The ability to customize replies to calendar invitations.
And HUNDREDS of backend improvements throughout SmarterMail.

If you have active Upgrade Protection, your license was already upgraded to the next release so you can run the BETA in production by simply installing and activating the product. You can also download it and run it as the free version for testing. Regardless, Smartertools are standing by and more than willing to help! For more information on the latest SmarterMail BETA build, and to download the installer, check out this SmarterMail BETA topic.

Get started today as our Developers are standing by for your feedback in the SmarterTools Community!

Send a good email

Today, let’s us learn on how to send a good email. Hold on, not writing a good email but sending. Sounded simple? Yes, everyone knows how to send an email by clicking the send button. But do you know a good email can be ended into your recipient’s junk box, or even bounced? Now, it gets interesting isn’t? Writing a good email is not enough. Your recipient’s email servers have more anti-spam policies. Even you are writing good emails because of those reasons, your emails can go to junk.

With these rules, you can minimize the risk of your important emails ended in the junk box.

a. Always send an email via your or permitted email servers. Some have more than 1 email account and they have belonged to different email servers. If you are sending from an email server that is not permitted, as your IT people might set up something known as SPF in the DNS zone records. You are impersonating unknowingly. This type of failed SPF email might be rejected eventually. SPF is used to control email spamming especially those emails are impersonating your organization sending unauthorized emails to people.

b. Your subject is sensitive – avoid using words like message failed for delivery, spam, and offensive words. These words can easily be classified as junk email.

c. If you are sending an email with an attachment. Do not send doc xlxs or pptx etc. It is a good habit to zip them and scan them with your latest updated anti-virus if you have received such emails.

d. Look for a typo in the recipient’s email address especially they are already stored. A displayed name does not indicate your email address is correct. If you have received bounce email notification like invalid recipients or similar, you might have the incorrect email address.

e.Do not send an email with a big file. I do not recommend an email with attachments larger than 2Mb. Such large emails take a very long time to download, it might crash your recipient email application timed-out connection between the computer and the server.

f. Signed DKIM on all outgoing emails. Ask your IT team or hosting provider to implement DKIM on your domain main server. This can greatly enhance your email delivery if you are using the correct email server.

g. Last but not least, It might be beyond your ability. However, I need to mention as this is extremely important. your email server IP address must not be blacklisted if you are, the emails you sent are likely returned or bounced. Here’s the free tool https://mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx to check your email server IP address is blacklisted.

The good, the bad & the ugly in Webmail

Webmail has become a must when you are choosing a web hosting package. Webmail is used to send and receive emails via IMAP protocol directly from the email server. I have observed that some relied on webmail but some insisted on using an email client application like Outlook. Whatever is the reason. Today, we share the Pros and Cons of using webmail.

Basically, there are advantages and disadvantages using webmail. Let’s start;

a. Webmail is portable, you can use it on a computer connected to the internet. Basically, you can log in to your email account at any time and anywhere, This is a major advantage.

b. Do not need to install and maintain the application in your computers. No licensing or disk space issue.

c. Because you are always on the same interface. Thus read, unread or even junk emails are the same from the last time you have signed in.

d. The contact list is not duplicated or different from one to another computers or devices since it is stored on the server.

However, they have disadvantages;

a, If there is no internet, You can’t connect to the server and retrieve your past emails.

b. When your server has crashed. You might lose every email and connect to the server is definitely not possible.

c. If privacy is your major concern, webmail is not an option. As you may leave traces on the browser.

d. Most web hostings have packaged the outsourced webmail, which is free. They are lack of features unlike our Shared Hosting Plus, the webmail is by SmarterMail.

Now you have better understand what is suitable for you.

How to protect your email account

We are using our email account to communicate with peoples, coworkers, friend, or business associates. The emails you have sent is representing you, I’m sure you do not want to see they are abused, and impersonating your identity. The truth is these are happening every day. Email accounts from someone are sending Spam, send unwanted email, email that impersonates any financial institutions asking for banking details. These emails are normally from compromised accounts or look similar domain names to trick you.

It’s not surprising that you have received these email. Me too, it’s common to see this type of emails not filtered even your best anti-spam email gateways. There are a few rules to follow can protect your email accounts.

  1. Bruteforce attack is common today. If you have the choices to use a unique username. A common username like sales, support, customerscare, and similar, are targetted. For example, your name is John Tan, avoid using John as the username but john.tan. This can minimize the risk of successful guessing from a hacker.
  2. Always use strong Passwords and update them in 3 months interval or shorter. A strong password consists of capital letters, small letters, number and symbol. I recommend at least 10 characters long.
  3. Use latest anti-virus definition to scan your computers and smart devices for any malware periodically.
  4. Careful emails with links and attachments, never respond to unknown or suspicious emails. Click on links may indirectly infect your computers. Attackers can send you emails with attachment with malware. Scan them,  and do not open these attachments.
  5. Avoid logging in to public and not personal devices to check emails. This will increase the risks that your credentials stolen by bad guys.
  6. Quite similar to point5, do not connect to an unknown or public network to check your emails.

Actually, these apply the same to many areas. If you are adhering to these rules, your risk of having your email account to be compromised has greatly reduced or even not possible.

How to avoid not reading important emails

In many occasions, you did not receive an important email from someone. Yes, they did not end up in your inbox but junk or spam box? Because the email was either marked as spam or the spam score is high. In this situation. you have little control. Worst, your email client application is set up as POP3. Your local folders do not synchronise with the email server.

Today, we share tips on how you can minimize or avoid not reading important emails.

  1. Set up your mailbox as IMAP4 then POP3. With IMAP4 you can subscribe to all folders including the preassigned junk folder.
  2. Always read the junk folder’s emails before empty them. You might find important emails ended in the junk box.
  3.  Whitelisted or place them in your trusted sender list your important senders,  so their emails never go to the junk box.

With these measures, I’m sure you will never miss the important emails again.

 

Is DKIM a must?

Like what is explained in DKIM.org, DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) enables an organization to take responsibility for an email sent.  The organization is a handler of the message, either as its originator or as an intermediary. Their reputation is the basis for evaluating whether to trust the message for further handlings, such as delivery. Technically DKIM provides a method for validating a domain name identity that is associated with a message through cryptographic authentication.

DKIM works only from the originator email server. Most modern email servers allow you to enable and sign each outgoing email. The administrator is responsible to add the DKIM key as a text file into the domain DNS record. If the DKIM keys match, the email is genuinely sent from the originator’s email server. This helps to fight spam emails and enhanced email delivery. But wait a minute…

Provided the recipients’ email servers are checking on DKIM. Yes, google email gateways do but I have seen many others don’t. So, my question is if you do not enable DKIM, does it mean you cannot send outgoing emails. The answer is ‘NO’. Apparently, even you do not have DKIM you can still send to Gmail users or any recipients email servers checking n DKIM. So, the purpose of DKIM only enhances its delivery if your recipient email servers are checking on DKIM. But this is how I look at, DKIM is good to enable if users are told to send their emails via a designated email server but definitely not a must at least for now.

Is SPF important?

SPF is a DNS record to tell other email servers that emails from the designated email servers are permitted. If emails are not originated from the mentioned email servers in the SPF, they are likely impersonated, not genuine or spam emails. At the end of the SPF statement, you will see these syntaxes – ~ ?, the common one is ~ follows by a like this ~a meaning ‘softfail’ marked the email and higher spam score if the email has violated SPF preset in the sender DNS record.

SPF is used to fight spam emails if the emails were sent from an unauthorized mail server with a probably compromised email account. It is easy to explain or interpret to a technical person. However, it is not the case for a non-tech person. For the last 20 years, I have seen many have sent emails using other email servers. These senders have more than 1 email account set in their email client application. Unknowingly, these senders sent out emails using another email server which is not authorized and eventually, the email is marked as spam or bounced.

SPF is effective to fight spam emails. But on other hands, an email can be marked as spam email mistakenly. I have mixed feeling on this. SPF set by the email server admin is used to fight spam emails, however, it can be a double-edged sword in this case. So, it is unsafe to use ‘-a’ but ‘~a’ softfail at least the email will not return in the event if the sender has used the wrong email server to send his or hers’ emails.

 

Are all webmail the same?

By the name, yes webmail means you can send and receive emails from the browser, from anywhere as long as the device has an internet access. But not all webmails are the same. Some are better, some are boring and some are powerful. For example, the webmail by smartermail in our shared hosting plus is a very nice looking and powerful webmail.

Shared Hosting Plus webmail not only allows you to send and receive email, but you can also do more. Create your contact list shared or personal to save more time and effort sending email to the same recipients. Book a meeting room using the calendar function or create a file folder or keep a note to remind yourselves.  Many webmails are opensource preinstalled with the web control panel and they are free. Thus, they are simple and lack of these functions. Webmail from our shared hosting plus can easily replace your desktop email client applications, like Outlook or Thunderbird.

Is your mail server IP address blacklisted?

questionThe common tool used by many to check their mail server IP address is blacklisted from MXTOOL. Often, we are hearing from someone his or her mail server is blacklisted. But by who? And how? What will happen if my mail server is blacklisted? How can I resolve? This article will provide you with the information to have a better understanding of the matter.

Firstly, we must understand DNSBL. What is DNSBL? It is referred to as Domain Name System Blacklists, also called DNSBL’s or DNS Blacklists, they are spam blocking lists that allow a mail server administrator to block messages from particular mail servers which have a brief history of sending spam. The lists derive from the Internet’s Domain Name Program, which converts difficult, numerical Ip such as for example 123.123.123.123 into names of a domain like example.net, building the lists much simpler to read, use, and search. If the maintainer of a DNS Blacklist offers previously received spam of any sort from a specific domain name, that server will be “blacklisted” and all communications sent from it might be either flagged or rejected from all sites that make use of that specific list. DNS Blacklists have got a fairly long history in internet terms, with the initial one getting created in 1997. Known as the RBL, its purpose was to block spam email and also to educate Internet providers and various other websites about spam and its own related problems. Although contemporary DNS Blacklists are hardly ever used as educational equipment, their function as a contact blocker and filtration system still serves as their main purpose even today. In fact, the vast majority of today’s email servers support at least one DNSBL in order to reduce the quantity of junk mail customers using their support receive. The three fundamental components that define a DNS Blacklist – a domain name to web host it under, a server to host that domain, and a listing of addresses to create to the list – also haven’t changed from enough time when the RBL was initially created to today. Since then, a large number of different DNSBL’s have sprung up and so are available for use, plus they all have their own lists that are populated predicated on what does or doesn’t meet up with their own requirements and criteria for what a spammer is. Due to this, DNS Blacklists may differ greatly from one to the other. Some are stricter than others, some just list sites for an arranged period of time from the day the last little bit of spam was received by the maintainer versus others that are manually managed, and still, others not only block IP addresses but also whole ISP’s recognized to harbor spammers. This outcome in a few lists working much better than others because they’re maintained by providers with a greater degree of trustworthiness and credibility than competing lists may have. Users may also use these variations to select which DNS Blacklist is most effective for them based on what their particular security needs are. Much less lenient lists might enable more spam to complete but may not block non-spam text messages that have been misidentified on lists which have stricter recommendations for how are you affected or what’s left of it. To greatly help facilitate this, DNS Blacklists that are designed for use by the general public will generally have a particular, published policy detailing just what a listing means and must abide by the criteria organized in it to be able to not merely attain public confidence within their services but to maintain it as well.

Now, we have understood what is DNSBL. The commonly used list is from spamcop, spamhus, barracuda etc. They are maintaining an almost real-time updated list to most mail server administrators to block spam emails. This is a common and popular method. As soon as your mail server is blacklisted and listed. Emails are originated from the blacklisted mail servers are bounced until they are delisted.