FAQ: Mail Server Upgrades and New Services Announcement

(Reference to January 2014 notification)


To help you plan for the upcoming shared mail server changes, we've put together a FAQ (frequently asked questions) to help address many common concerns.


Question:  "Exactly what are you doing and when?"

Answer: We will be updating and/or upgrading all shared mail servers to the same version of SmarterMail.  After all servers have been completed, we will initiate the outbound filtering provided by MailChannels on each server in a rolled out deployment. 

Servers requiring major version upgrades (anticipated 1-2 hours interruption for maintenance window):

mailhost2 and mailhost3 -- Friday, January 10th, 2014 between 3AM and 5AM EST 
mailhost4 and mailhost6 -- Tuesday, January 14th, 2014 between 3AM and 5AM EST

Servers requiring minor version updates (anticipated 30 minutes interruption for maintenance window):

mailhost1 and mailhost5 -- Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 between 4AM and 5AM EST
mailhost7 and mailhost8 -- Thursday, January 9th, 2014 between 4AM and 5AM EST
mailhost9 -- Sunday, January 8th, 2014 between 4AM and 5AM EST


We have developed an easy to use tool located at https://support.appliedi.net/kb/c69/smartermail.aspx to help you identify which mail server your domain(s) are located on, what is being upgraded or updated and when.  Sending mail servers are configured to re-send messages when the receiving mail server is unavailable.  The schedule and delay of the subsequent delivery attempts are configured by those sending systems, however, most attempts will occur within a few hours of the original attempt.  We have scheduled these changes during a period that represents the overall lowest mail traffic and end-user disruption for the majority of users. 


Question: "I already have my own dedicated or cloud server.  Will this affect me?"

Answer:  If your already have your own SmarterMail server, no changes to your services will occur.  In some cases, customers who are "managed" for dedicated and cloud services utilize the 'shared' mail servers for email.  You can use the tool we developed to see if you fall into this category:  https://support.appliedi.net/kb/c69/smartermail.aspx

For cloud/dedicated customers who wish to be included (you already have your own mail server and these upgrades appeal to you) we can discuss upgrade and pricing options.  We can make MailChannels available to cloud/dedicated for very reasonable pricing.  We also offer discounts on SmarterTools and SmarterMail upgrades.   


Question: "Do I need to do anything to prepare for the upgrades?"

Answer: We perform daily full backups of all shared servers, however, we always recommend that users maintain their own backups of all critical data.   For email, backups would be achieved by having a copy of all emails by POP or IMAP (using a mail client like Outlook) to a local computer.  Users who only use webmail are advised to periodically do this as a best practice as well.   Doing so will insure you have a backup and local copy of all email for long term retention and archiving.


Question: "I don't want any changes, updates or upgrades, can I opt out?"

Answer:  Not for users within our 'shared hosting' or 'managed' platform that relies on shared services.  We'd be happy to discuss alternative options for you by utilizing cloud or dedicated servers running your own instance of SmarterMail.  Having your own mail server allows absolute control over all aspects of email services including quotas such as message size, user and domain limits.  We would be happy to discuss options available to you, please contact your account manager, email sales@appliedi.net or call 866-706-8691 and use the option for Sales.


Question: "How does this outgoing mail filtering work?"

Answer: For outgoing mitigation, we have partnered with MailChannels (http://www.mailchannels.com) to bring innovative, industry leading, cloud based outbound spam filtering and blacklisting mitigation to all shared mail servers. The primary benefit is that the MailChannels platform handles the delivery of email to your recipients.  Mailchannels identifies and effectively stops spam with a combination of user reputation tracking, policy checks, IP address re-mapping, and notifications. MailChannels unique, powerful approach defends and protects against both spam abuse, compromised accounts and blacklisting, transparently with a high degree of accuracy and minimal interaction.  Additional information: https://support.appliedi.net/kb/a244/overview-of-new-outgoing-mail-anti-spam-services.aspx


Question: "Is it possible that valid email could be rejected or delayed using MailChannels?"

Answer:  Unfortunately, as with any system or service there's always the possibility, albeit small, that valid email could be incorrectly identified.  MailChannels does its best to eliminate this risk and in most cases will send all email without any additional delay or impact.  Suspect messages or those users sending high volumes of mail could be throttled or in severe cases rejected.  There are a small number of error messages that an end user could receive as a result of the service.  We have developed additional knowledge base (KB) articles to identify and resolve these potential errors.  We will work with users and MailChannels to overcome any of these issues in the case that any legitimate emails should be impacted.


Question: "I don't want any filtering on my email.  How do I opt out?"

Answer:  Users that utilize shared mail services and don't want any filtering have two options.

Option #1: Use your ISP (Internet Service Provider) as your outgoing mail server bypassing our shared services for sending mail.  Your incoming email will continue to be handled as it always has. For some users (e.g. Comcast/Xfinity) this is already a requirement and becoming more commonplace for non-business (e.g. residential) class accounts.  Using a different outgoing mail server does not change how recipients reply to you or how you receive and/or retrieve your messages.  The outgoing server is simply a delivery mechanism for sending the email.  In addition to your ISP, there are 3rd party services available dedicated to sending email.  Two examples would be ElasticEmail and SendGrid, though numerous services exist. 

Option #2: Migration of your email to a dedicated, cloud based mail server. Having your own mail server allows absolute control over all aspects of email services including quotas such as message size, user and domain limits. We offer a free promotional SmarterTools Bundle (including SmarterMail) to all new cloud and dedicated server customers which will satisfy the requirements of most (nearly all) users. We would be happy to discuss options available to you, please contact your account manager, email sales@appliedi.net or call 866-706-8691 and use the option for Sales.
 


Question: "You talked about a phase two for incoming spam.  I don't see that addressed here or in the other articles?"

Answer:  We will announce our plans around additional incoming spam filtering options in the weeks after phase one has been completed.  We're excited about these features and look forward to bringing you additional information!
 


Question: "My question isn't answered here or I wish to speak to someone about these changes"

Answer: Please contact us at any time through our 24/7 phone (866-706-8691 opt #2), email support@appliedi.net or live chat services.  We will do our best to answer and address all your questions or concerns.

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