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Why EMail Forwarding Offsite is Very Bad

We still see an awful lot of people forwarding email offsite to their ISP's email address. This is very bad. Very, very bad. We wish cPanel had a way to stop you from doing it, and we wish we had time to contact every one of you individually to explain why it's bad because we can see in our handy, dandy config files who's doing it and where it's going. Since we cannot do that, we're going to explain here why this is very, very, very bad both for you and for us. Your cPanel email system is fairly robust. You have POP email accounts, IMAP accounts, and forwarding capabilities. You can get mail through webmail on this server, pop it into a client, get it on your Blackberry - the choices are numerous. Out of all those choices, there's only one that can really harm your ability to get your mail, and that's forwarding your email to your ISP (or GMail, Yahoo, or Hotmail). When someone emails our system here, there are some tests that the email goes through when another mail server knocks on the door. First, we see if the sending server is on an RBL and if so, we won't take the mail. Next we check if the recipient email address is defined as accepting mail (which includes installed accounts or forwarders) and if it is not, we don't accept the mail. If the sending server isn't on an RBL, the email address exists here, and it passes some other criteria that insures it's a correctly formatted email, then our servers take the mail and processes it. If you simply have a POP account for that address, we drop it in there, and it waits for you to pick it up. If you have an offsite forwarder, we then take that email and forward it to your ISP (or webmail provider) - this forwarding step changes the nature of that email in that the email is no longer from the server that originally delivered it here. The email is now originating from your server here. This is an unbelievably important distinction. If you have MailScanner set to deliver and simply tag spam, and you also have your account set up to forward that email to you, you and your domain (and since this is shared hosting, the entire server and everyone on it) then appear to be the spammer to your ISP because the email being sent to you is being delivered by us. Even if you have MailScanner configured well, some spam mail will still get through - once that happens Comcast, or AOL, or SBCGlobal, or RoadRunner will look at our server and says: "Dude! You keep sending spam to our user! You won't stop! You can't email here anymore!" And before you can blink, all mail from here to there bounces. All of it - from everyone on the server with you trying to email anyone they know at that ISP. (As well as, remember, all the mail you are forwarding, both good and bad, which you now won't ever see). The AOL folks are particularly guilty of causing problems with this because of the unbelievably easy way AOL lets you report spam - simply click a button, and report the server instantly, right? Well, if it's a forwarded email, you just reported your server, upping the likelihood that one of our servers will get blacklisted for forwarding your mail to you, just like you told it to, and ensuring that you'll lose a significant amount of mail, as well as disrupt communications for everyone with you. Another issue with this is that if you forward your mail offsite, we simply have no way to help you if you have a question about lost mail. Once your ISP accepts the mail, our part is over with. If a mail doesn't make it to you and your ISP accepted it, it simply isn't our issue anymore and we have no ability to ask them what they did with the mail once they took it - and most ISPs are so large that whether you lost one email from your Aunt Martha really isn't their concern. Forwarding should only be used to define multiple addresses that accept mail on the server, and they should only be used to forward that mail to email addresses on the server itself. Once you begin using forwards to forward offsite, though, you risk setting off a blacklist that will disrupt mail service for you, and the communication ability of all your neighbors. And yes, it can get your account asked to leave should it happen more than once. All the major webmail providers (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail) allow you to pop email into your webmail - set this up instead of forwarding. Almost all popular email programs allow you to pop mail from multiple accounts into one area to manage it - set this up instead of forwarding to your ISP. Don't forward email to your ISP out of laziness - the risk is fairly significant that you could blacklist your own domain, tick off everyone on the server with you, and greatly annoy us when we have to deal with it. One more word about forwarding - if you install a pop account on the server, and you install a forwarder on the server to send the email offsite with the same address as the pop account, you will get two copies of that email. One copy will be archived on the server here, and one is sent to you - your mail can fill up very, very quickly that way, eventually overtaking your quota if you install a pop account and never check it or clean it out. If you are using an address as a forwarder only, do not install a pop account for it - it's an alias, and it doesn't need it.


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