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Email Servers, Outages and Problems
15th July, 2011
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I feel you all need a clear explanation for what has been going wrong with our email recently.  This does not effect all clients obviously, but the majority of clients that ‘Host’ their websites with us, also host their email with us, so here goes:

Our email is actually handled by three servers, they have names like India, Echo and Quebec.  If you pay extra you could end up on Quebec which is a premium server… but really 90% of our email is handled by two computers (servers) called India and Echo.

These are physically located in Manchester, UK.

The servers are full spec proper dedicated servers in that they do nothing else other than handle email and for that reason they have specialist software called SmarterMail.  This software basically does everything.

Recently however an update patch caused a bug in the software and it is this bug that has been causing our email to go down so often.  Essentially, the bug causes the server to run slower and slower until finally the server goes so slowly our email does not work.  At that point alarm bells ring and the server has to be restarted and it is at this point that we all notice a problem.

Today at about 5pm technicians installed an update to this Software and hopefully now this will be the end of the problems.  We shall have to wait and see and I can only apologise of the problems of late.

Action you can always take:

  1. Foremost – you should check http://mail.yourdomainname.com – if that works it is likely the main server will work.  You should be able to log in and see your email
  2. If that does not work then there is almost certainly a problem with the Mail Servers, all I can say is rest assured a technician will be working on it.

    In the recent outages the servers have never been down for more than 1 hour.

If you remain unsatisfied with this… there are a couple of actions I am planning… first I will looking into a new supplier, the current supplier of these services has been excellent, but none of us can afford to be without email even for 1 hour.
Second – quite a few clients use Gmail as a back up, if their main email fails they switch to Gmail, it is a perfectly respectable solution and I did this personally and now I use Gmail by default, I have companies both large and small using Gmail and it really is a viable alternative.
There are third party email only websites out there, websites like www.simplymailsolutions.com are a viable option, but obviously they carry the same risk, but what counts is your satisfaction with the services you provide.
To conclude this post, I can only apologise once again, I can offer alternatives if that gives you more piece of mind, the current service has been fixed (I hope) and so should improve, but ultimately we shall have to wait and see.
Please feel free to contact me if you need to.

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