Website Hosting - Email Issues
Matt Williams - 20th April, 2010
When you build a web site, you often provide a means for users to communicate with you. One of the most common
'add-ons' to a web site is the addition of some kind of email access. Email is used to sign users up for
newsletters, provide communication for administrative issues and a hundred other uses. But, as everyone sadly
knows, email problems can occur.
Virus infection is among the most common, though the situation is actually better today than in the past. Huge
efforts, and some progress, has been made over the past 10 years to reduce the number and severity of virus
attacks. Hackers haven't surrendered, far from it. But they're on the defensive like never before.
Many of those viruses were (and are) spread through email, usually in the form of email attachments. That's the
source of the now-common advice never to open an attachment from someone you don't know. Professionals will often
extend that advice to suggest you never open an attachment that's unexpected, even if it's from someone you know.
Well-meaning, but computer-challenged friends often accidentally forward virus infected emails.
Spam has taken over the top spot for email annoyances. It's estimated by various different professional sources
that 92-97% of all email sent today is spam. While the definition varies, spam is generally regarded as any
unwanted commercial email sent by someone whom the recipient doesn't know or have a business relationship with.
Spam clutters email inboxes, requires people to sift through to find valid messages, and often contains offensive
messages in some form. But, it's a fact of life and isn't going away anytime soon. Even though laws are in place,
thousands of spammers continue to risk fines or jail for the chance of making money from that small percentage who
will open the unwanted email.
Other forms of email problems are even more severe for many web site owners. When the mechanisms fail that they
rely on to send and receive messages to and from their users, that's a problem. Dealing with those problems can
range from sending an email or instant message to an administrator, to tracking down the right person to get your
site removed from a blacklist.
Email is the communications vehicle of choice for millions everyday. When the system burps, someone has to take
time to do something about it. Often, that means relying on a person who is already overburdened with too many
issues to resolve.
So, besides pointing out some sad facts or complaining, what's the point? All of the above shows just one more area
you should look at when selecting a web host or deciding whether to move to another. Just as with server or network
administration, companies vary in their ability to deal with email-related issues. Some are responsive and
super-competent. Others, are simply indifferent or worse. And many are in between.
Email administration, like server maintenance or network management, is a professional specialty. Skill in one does
not necessarily mean quality work in another. Finding a web hosting company and/or system that has few email
problems, and solves them quickly when they occur, is an important task. Spend some time researching who provides
superior support in email. You'll be happy you did.
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