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SMTP mail loss - recent conversation

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SMTP mail loss - recent conversation

Just posting this in case anyone else has suffered the same thing - warning, a LONG thread but interesting none the less...
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[from the Customer Support section]

The User added the following comment:

Hi - I need further explanation about a problem just closed; it is an important issue for us, so this is a detailed posting:

In short, the ADSL connection conked on Sunday, the router froze and so we did not receive mail until restart on Tuesday pm (we have an Exchange Server, with SMTP mail set via mx records to go to astonmatthews.co.uk first priority, PlusNet 2nd priority etc.

It has always worked fine.

I tried to dequeue mail, but we had experienced problems doing this previously so asked PlusNet to do it at your end.

The reply - which was pretty quick, so thanks for that - was as follows:

"domain had only had an MX record added for customers machine and hadnt had SMTP mail delivery setup, I have corrected this and mail will queue on autoturn in the future...mail that was not recieved will have bounced back as customers mail server offline with no backup.

Configuration of .uk domain astonmatthews.co.uk Changed:
Mail service changed from semiauto to smtp"

I'm confused as:

a) we did NOT just have MX records for our Exchange Server - I only checked the MX records (via non PlusNet source) the other day, and we had 3 lower priority MX records, all pointing to PlusNet. So mail should not have been lost, or bounced back.

b) we did have SMTP mail set up at PlusNet, which is why we received mail. We do not use POP3 at all.

c)"mail will queue on autoturn" - I'm assuming this means that - with multiple MX records - mail will not be lost in subsequent SMTP failures - is that right?

d) >>Mail service changed from semiauto << - what is SemiAuto??

If the person(s) above have got their facts correct, I suspect that an error was made at PlusNet end when we had the initial problems with dequeueing when we left Demon and transferred account and domain to PlusNet

- to clarify: a few months back we changed over to a new SBS2000 server, which meant an interruption to our mail. With our old server we were all reg with Demon, with the new we were moving all to PlusNet.

Because we missed out on SMTP mail during the changeover period, once the new server was up and running I tried to dequeue the mail queued at PlusNet by fingering. This did not work for some reason, so I ended up calling you to get it sorted. 2 things happened:

- I had set up the first MX record, but the guy (helpfully) went in himself and set up the extra MX records for PlusNet. These never appeared on the Portal, but did appear when I queried the MX records externally.

- We still had problems dequeuing the mail, and after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, someone somewhere at PlusNet DID manage to give the mail a shove and pass it along to us.

I want to be sure that the mail is set up correctly now, and to understand what went 'wrong' (if it did) with the last config.

Thanks for any light you can shed on this...

Open
2002-09-19
07:03:36 Comment By: You This ticket has now been escalcated as a high priority Open
2002-09-19
23:52:47 Comment By: mcundall Dear Customer,
When you have configured the SMTP MX records via the portal you have forgotten to add your SMTP static IP in the above section thus meaning that no back up mail server was stored. If this was added then you have our autoturn server when your mail would be stored until you came back online (use the finger command to download). However as when this was configured via the portal it was not added there is no other place to store the mail. If you wish the IP to be added in the correct section we can do this for you.
Regards,
Support Actioned
2002-09-20
02:04:35 Comment By: You Ok, can we go through this slowly...

a) I may be wrong (I'd have to check my records) but I think that the 'Mail Settings' dialog boxes have changed in the past few months - is that right? I don't recall the option to enter an SMTP address at this point.

b) if you look at 'My Email Settings, Select E-Mail delivery method" you'll see that we have already entered the SMTP address. Why is it now required to add it again, on the Domain Names section?

c) what is "Other - I wish to specify DNS records for mail to this domain" for, then? I assumed that ticking this and then entering the MX records was the correct procedure.

d) Could you explain the Semi Auto thing?

Thanks - it took a lot of time to get the right instructions to do it the first time, so I realise that this could take a while...
Assigned
2002-09-20
07:04:17 Comment By: You This ticket has now been escalcated as a high priority Assigned
2002-09-20
12:16:33 Comment By: mjianikos Dear Customer

I have now corrected the SMTP settings at this end. Now if your server is offline your email will be qued on autoturn.

The settings semi auto wil update your DNS details to work on the account every 4am refresh and will destroy any extra MX records that exist, if you now check the settings they will appear as SMTP.

Regards
Support Actioned
2002-09-20
13:10:25 Comment By: You Uploaded file attachment.

Name: PlusSMTP.zip

Type: application/x-zip-compressed

Download Attachment Actioned
2002-09-20
13:10:25 Comment By: You Sorry, we are going to have to take this further.

You have to realise that it is VERY important for us as a business to a) be sure that SMTP is set up correctly, and b)understand the settings ourselves, so that we can be certain mail is not in danger of being lost - as it has been, by the look of it.

Generally I find PlusNet support fine, but SMTP is obviously a more complex issue. By avoiding answering the questions in my post, you have left me in a difficult position and I am obliged to follow through until I get a clear answer. I get the impression that there is confusion at PlusNet end also, so I shall pursue this and escalate it as high as it takes until I get a clear answer.

So...
Thanks for answering d) - the SemiAuto thing (although I'm now wondering what Full Auto is...)

PLEASE answer a), b) and c) also. If you feel unable to do so, please pass to whoever acts as the SMTP guru at your end. In the past we have had problems bounced around like pass-the-parcel (admittedly not usually with PlusNet) and I don't want to waste time on this.

Actually, I can partially answer a) myself, because I am sitting here with a screenshot of my original settings - PlusNet HAVE changed the Mail Settings setup page. The SMTP option was NOT there in June. So - I suspect that if there has been a problem with our mail settings (leading to lost mail?) it is likely to have been introduced at PlusNet.

(by the way, could you ask your colleagues not to use the expression 'you have forgotten to...' unless they are sure of their facts - it is very irritating)

You see, in June - as I have said before - we had what appeared to be fine MX records i.e. the top priority going to our mail server ip, and the rest going to PlusNet ip's. Which by my reckoning means that if our mail server was down, the mail should have been queued at your end. Your guy is telling us 'there (was) no other place to store the mail..'. Great.

Someone isn't gettting their story straight - can you look into it? Cheers.

p.s. - I'll have to root around to find all the documentation, but for the time being I'm attaching a zipped tif of the Domain Settings Page as it was in June. You'll see that there was no SMTP option (it relied on the SMTP option on the Mail page, which had our correct IP address). Note also that although only 1 MX record is shown, the others did exist (i.e. when you queried the MX records externally)
Assigned
2002-09-21
07:31:01 Comment By: You This ticket has now been escalcated as a high priority Assigned
2002-09-21
16:54:04 Comment By: CSC - Customer Care Escalations Please advise. Assigned
2002-09-21
17:49:03 Comment By: jberry Hi there,

I can assure you that the SMTP/Semi-Auto button has always been a feature of the domain control system.

The domain was transfered in and set up entirely by you (ie. no changes were made by any agents here) so we cannot be held responsible for the misconfiguration and the resulting loss of your mail.

I can understand that you are frustrated by this as lost mail can be business critical but in this situation there is really nothing further that we can do.

The settings on your domain are now correct and mail will queue on our server when you are offline but there is no way to recover the lost mail.

Regards
Customer Support Actioned
2002-09-22
14:09:59 Comment By: You I don't know who Mr/Ms jberry is, but they need to work on their customer service skills. PlusNet is generally noted for courteous replies, but this one definitely qualifies as 'abrupt', if not rude.

jbarry has got his/her facts wrong, I'm afraid

- there has indeed been a change to the Domian config page, which is why I uploaded a zipped .tif file showing the previous incarnation. If jberry had taken the time to look at that, s/he would see that I was correct.

- 'no changes were made by any agents here' - I would hardly imagine sitting here at the end of the phone whilst the guy entered the mx records, would I?? Especially as I indicated I was grateful for his time.

- 'frustrated' - I am more 'frustrated' by your rudeness than by the loss of the mail at the moment. In your rush to deny responsibility you have ignored salient facts in my email, and totally failed to answer the technical questions I raised yet again. We have a BUSINESS account, not a KID-AT-HOME-PLAYING-QUAKE account, so we need a professional response. If you can't or won't answer valid technical questions please pass them on to a colleague or superior.

I appreciate that, like all ISPs, you have more than your fair share of whingers who want something for nothing, make mistakes and blame them on you, want a Rolls-Royce service for £20 per month. For that reason, rather than send a brief message which could be misinterpreted, I made sure that I explained the position in (great) detail.

A professional response would have been to read the message a couple of times, recognise it as being genuine and spend an appropriate amount of time researching and replying to it.

Unfortunately this week I have better things to do in business than waste time dealing with surly support staff, but I shall contact Plus again to take this further - for one reason, I want more than bland assurances that the SMTP situation is OK now (if you had thought on, it would have been appropriate to actually list the 'new' MX records)

And for another, I don't particularly wish PlusNet support to deteriorate to a point where the rest of the good support staff end up being replaced by curt and unhelpful ones...

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ENDS (for the moment...)

2 REPLIES
N/A

RE: SMTP mail loss - recent conversation

Hi
I had a problem deQ'ing SMTP mail but it was a setup thing. After a period of outage, you need to let the servers know your back online so that they can send all the queued mail. After service was restored all new email came in fine, it was just the queued stuff.

This HAS to be done from a machine that is IP address refered to in the mail settings. So if your DNS is set to say 123.123.123.123, you need to ping PlusNet's autoturn server from that ip. In our case, this would be our firewall.

So from the firewall, I send a ping to 212.159.3.9
Then from a command prompt I send the command "finger postmaster@autoturn.plus.net" without the quotes.

Hope this helps in some way.
N/A

RE: SMTP mail loss - recent conversation

Thanks, yes I tried that and got zilch.
Understandably I'd like to know why, but with unusually unco-operative PlusNet support staff it is difficult.

I suspect that only a small number of staff actually fully understand the SMTP process, and my guy was not one of them.

A shame - when I was first setting it up had helpful posts from some PlusNet staff. Hope they haven't sacked the good ones and replaced them with duffs!


> Hi
> I had a problem deQ'ing SMTP mail but it was a setup thing. After a period of outage, you need to let the servers know your back online so that they can send all the queued mail. After service was restored all new email came in fine, it was just the queued stuff.
>
> This HAS to be done from a machine that is IP address refered to in the mail settings. So if your DNS is set to say 123.123.123.123, you need to ping PlusNet's autoturn server from that ip. In our case, this would be our firewall.
>
> So from the firewall, I send a ping to 212.159.3.9
> Then from a command prompt I send the command "finger postmaster@autoturn.plus.net" without the quotes.
>
> Hope this helps in some way.