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Email Issues

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General Tips

  • Some of our sites’ emails are hosted on an old Hostgator account, and the addresses on our current server may be unused duplicates — see the accounts sheet for login URL and info.
  • In cases of bounced emails or improper routing, messages may often get caught in the cPanel account’s default mail inbox. Check it at cPanel > Email Accounts > Default Email Account > Access Webmail.
  • MXToolBox.com’s supertool (https://mxtoolbox.com/SuperTool.aspx) can give you lots of valuable information. In particular:
    • Use the MX Lookup to find out where mail is routing to IRL (’cause it may be different from where our server is trying to route things).
    • Use the DNS Check to find out what nameservers are authoritative for the domain.


Local/Remote Exchange Issue

  • Conditions: Client’s email is hosted elsewhere, but shares the same domain name as the site.
  • Symptoms: Neither contact form messages nor messages sent directly from solutio-inc.com accounts arrive in the client’s mailbox. If the missing messages are in the cPanel account’s default mail inbox, read on.
  • Probable Cause: The cPanel account is set to be a Local Mail Exchanger.
    • Solution: WHM > DNS Functions > Edit DNS Zone, select the domain name and click Edit. At the bottom of the page, ensure Remote Mail Exchanger is selected.
      • Explanation: If the client’s email is hosted elsewhere, but shares the same domain name as the site, then the A records and MX records point to different places. In many such cases, we have edited the DNS settings directly with the domain’s registrar, rather than point to our nameservers and edit our nameservers’ DNS records. In such a case, the domain’s registrar would have the authoritative nameservers. However, if the cPanel account is set to Local Mail Exchanger, our server will obey its own nameservers even if they are not authoritative. If set to Remote Mail Exchanger, our server will refuse to accept the mail permanently and will defer to the authoritative nameservers to deliver it to its rightful home.


Contact Forms Messages Getting Blocked (Sometimes Silently)

  • Conditions: Client has a Yahoo, Gmail, Live, or other third-party email address.
  • Symptoms: Mail from contact forms not arriving at client’s address; they may or may not be arriving in the client’s spam folders, and error/bounce messages may or may not be arriving in the site’s cPanel default email account.
  • Probable Cause: Messages are failing spam filters, sometimes so badly that the server doesn’t even let them in far enough to hit the client’s spam box.
    • Solution 1: WHM > Account Functions > Modify an Account > select the account in question and click Modify. Now scroll to the bottom and ensure DKIM and SPF are both checked.
      • Explanation: Long story short, DKIM and SPF let spam filters know that mail is actually coming from where it says it’s coming from.
    • Solution 2: Use a plugin to make WordPress-generated emails send via SMTP. First, create a new email address on the client’s cPanel account — info@ or contact@ or whatever. Then install a plugin such as Easy WP SMTP on the site. Configure it to send securely with SSL from the new address you just created (and set the reply-from to the client’s actual email address). You will have to enter the mail server information and port for the cPanel account’s mail server.
      • Explanation: Normally, messages generated by WordPress are not authenticated by SMTP. When an SMTP plugin is used, the site is effectively logging into your mail server and having it send the message. Again, this allows spam filters to be sure that the message actually came from the domain it’s labeled with.
    • Solution 3: Use a service such as SendGrid or SendInBlue.
      • Explanation: Install WP Mail SMTP. From the settings screen, select SendGrid. Head on over to our Sendgrid account (see Accounts sheet for primary Sendgrid account info) and create a new API key from the dashboard (Settings -> API Keys). When creating a new API key, you can name it whatever you want, but I usually just enter the website’s URL (minus .com). Select Restricted Access, and enable the Mail Send option. Once the key is created, copy and paste it into the WP Mail SMTP settings page. Once that’s done and saved, go ahead and do a test email from the settings page as well (there’s a tab at the top called Email Test). Send an email to yourself. If you received it, then that’s all you need to do.
      • Alternatively you can use SendInBlue, which has its own plugin that connects to Solutio’s SendInBlue account (see accounts sheet). SendInBlue – as of writing – allows up to 300 emails per day with their free plan. I would recommend alternating between SendGrid and SendInBlue, as to avoid maxing out your quota on either service.