Alternative Business Email Services?

I have been running my own business email server for literally almost 20 years.
Currently it's a very simple postfix setup with 3 accounts.

But apparently this is no longer an option because my linode IP regularly pops up on lists that block entire ranges of IPs like UCEPROTECT-Level3.
As a result, I'm starting to find that customers are not getting emails.
Most recently, gmail has started flagging everything I send as spam: host[] said:
550-5.7.1 [ 12] Our system has detected that this message
is 550-5.7.1 likely unsolicited mail. To reduce the amount of spam sent to
Gmail, 550-5.7.1 this message has been blocked. Please visit 550-5.7.1 550 5.7.1 for
more information. eq5-20020ad45965000000b004b400eaa80asi11011068qvb.466 -
gsmtp (in reply to end of DATA command)

So I need to change my mail setup but I'm not sure how exactly.
The way I see it there are two options:

a) Offload all mail responsibilities to a third-party service

b) Only send / receive through a third-party service

Obviously option b is better in that I keep my business private but I recognize that this might not be practical.

Do you have advice about what I should do here?

Can you recommend a specific service?


4 Replies

What we do is have an account with an inexpensive web hosting company that offers unlimited email domains. We keep our web sites (domains) on our Linode server but establish email boxes on the cheap host. We use DNS A records on our registry to direct web traffic to Linode and MX (mail) traffic to the cheap host. Yes it cost us an extra $6 a month (for some 15 domains each needing email) but it works well.

You can use a private company like FastMail (which I'm told is quite good,) but they become rather expensive if you have lots of domains like we do. (FastMail is $5 a month per domain so that would cost us $75 a month.) Been using it for 2+ years.

for 10k mails/m is like 10$, does not charge per domain.

Thanks. That looks very similar to what I've been looking at.

Apparently there are SMTP relay services that do what I want like Mailchimp Transact, SendGrid and others.

Right now I'm trying the DuoCircle Outbound SMTP service Free plan.

I just have to wait for my TXT records to timeout before I can try it.

If it works I should be able to just use the relayhost directive in postfix to use an external SMTP.

And I should be able to configure my mail agent to use it as well at which point I can just turn off the SMTP service on my linode entirely.

Just to clarify, the 550-5.7.1 code suggests that part of the immediate problem is probably that I'm not using DKIM.
That and I think it has to do with some of the more non-personal looking messages about transactional stuff like visitors requesting an invoice because some messages do get through (although maybe end up in the SPAM folder).

So maybe UCEPROTECT is not solely responsible. But I suppose it's clear that we're not winning the spam war so I think it's better to get ahead of the curve and just offload to a service dedicated to doing SMTP delivery right whatever that is at any particular moment.


Just to clarify, the 550-5.7.1 code suggests that part of the immediate problem is probably that I'm not using DKIM.

If your messages are not DKIM-signed, ALL the big email providers (Gmail, M$, Comcast, etc) are going to reject them. I have a very small server and I would reject them…before my spam filters even had a chance to evaluate the content of your message. DKIM is a way to validate an email sender. If the sender is not valid or cannot be authenticated, 99.9% of the time the message is spam.

DKIM relatively easy to set up…and it fits right into postfix. I used opendkim for years…now I use rspamd (rspamd handles SPF, DKIM, ARC and DMARC…so it takes the place of 3 milters I had before).

So maybe UCEPROTECT is not solely responsible.

UCEPROTECT is a shake-down scheme. That was established long ago. No reputable email provider uses them. M$ did for awhile but doesn't anymore. They have their own scheme now.

-- sw


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