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Old 1 Aug 2021, 07:29 AM   #1
markwolk
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Mx records vs forwarding: what to do in post-Tuffmail times?

As all Tuffmail refugees, I am nervously looking for a replacement service for my 100+ domains.

At this stage, I focus on Runbox (where I have had a spare account for ages)... but... frankly... I find it is not even half as good as Tuffmail for my needs.

In his email "Tuffmail Ceasing Operation January 1", John Capo mentions in the first place " forwarding email from your domain registrar" as a possible replacement.

For many years, email forwarding at registrar or DNS level has been an unreliable solution, usually not recommended. Have things changed? - I am thinking in particular of hosting the DNS at cloudns.net or porkbun.com and forwarding the emails from there. Their forwarding services have been reliable so far for me, after having tested them for a few years on several lesser important domains.

So, what's the general feeling here among you all email gurus? Forwarding: yay or nay?
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Old 1 Aug 2021, 11:03 PM   #2
JeremyNicoll
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I can't help you directly, probably, but it might help if you explained why you have so many domains, and whether they're just used for email.

Are mails to/from those domains all your own personal mail, or are we talking about websites (or something) that you manage on behalf of clients?

If the domains are also for hosted websites, do you use any of the webhosts to host mail for the domains? If you do, couldn't you forward mails that arrive on those systems to some other place (any other place?) for ease of collection?

Do SPF, DMARC etc make this all more complex than it seems?
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Old 2 Aug 2021, 04:49 AM   #3
markwolk
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My domains are used for websites or vanity domains.

Sending mail, SPF and other records are under control; thank you.

My question is specifically about receiving emails and Mx records vs forwarding.

My tests with email forwarding show that they arrive with an SRS string in the headers. That's legitimate, but can it cause deliverability, trust or other issues? Is forwarding otherwise bad?
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Old 2 Aug 2021, 06:46 PM   #4
JeremyNicoll
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I understood the question, more or less, but didn't understand the reason why you'd have so many domains, and wondered if there'd be implications of whichever solution you pick, for other aspects of having so many.

Thinking about this overnight I also realised that I don't understand this bit:

"For many years, email forwarding at registrar or DNS level has been an unreliable solution..."

- in two ways. When you say "at registrar", do you just mean when a registrar has their own mail servers and initially sets new domains' MX records to point at those servers? And if so, the forwarding is done by filters one sets up to operate on those servers? So mails sent by a third party are received by those servers then sent onwards?

- and also: is forwarding "at DNS level" anything other than changing a domain's MX records to point wherever you choose?

For the latter I don't understand why that would be unreliable as - surely - MX records are what always underpin email delivery.

For the former, if it's unreliable it's presumably not the technique that's the problem (provide the ultimate destination will accept the forwarded stuff) but (perhaps) poor implementation of their own mail servers (and forwarding) by the registrar.


And lastly, what's a "vanity domain"? I mean, is it different from a normal personal domain?
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Old 3 Aug 2021, 01:05 PM   #5
markwolk
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Quote:
is forwarding "at DNS level" anything other than changing a domain's MX records to point wherever you choose?
If you point the Mx record of your domain example.com to one email service (e.g. Runbox), it will push all mail to that one email service. Then, you only have the filters to sort out what to do with [email protected] , [email protected] , [email protected] , [email protected] , etc. And the filters' powers are limited.

If you point the Mx record of your domain example.com to cloudns.net or porkbun.com , then their interfaces allow you to forward each address to one or several addresses of your choice, and this offers many more possibilities and redundancy, e.g.:

[email protected] -> john's address @gmail
[email protected] -> john's address @hotmail
[email protected] -> john's address @runbox

[email protected] -> mary's address @aol
[email protected] -> john's address @gmail

[email protected] -> all of the above

etc.

Impossible to achieve with filters. (Possible with Tuffmail's Manager.)

Not all registrars or DNS hosting companies offer that service. Some offer it partly (e.g. they allow you to forward [email protected] only to one address). In the past, I had used that service with another registrar, and found it unreliable (it stopped working from time to time, and when I finally realised that emails were no longer being forwarded, support was asking me to change some obscure setting in their interface).

A vanity domain is a domain that redirects to another to allow for common misspellings or paronyms. wikipedia.com and wikipedia.net are vanity domains of wikipedia.org.

Having tested cloudns.net for several years, and having found them reliable, with 24h chat support, I am going to go ahead and use their "Mail forwards" for most of my domains. Porkbun will be my second choice; they are a bit younger, but really astounding; however I don't think they have a standalone DNS hosting service - you need to move your domain's registration to them in order to use the DNS.
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Old 3 Aug 2021, 05:01 PM   #6
hadaso
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markwolk View Post
[email protected] -> john's address @gmail
[email protected] -> john's address @hotmail
[email protected] -> john's address @runbox

[email protected] -> mary's address @aol
[email protected] -> john's address @gmail

[email protected] -> all of the above

etc.

Impossible to achieve with filters. (Possible with Tuffmail's Manager.)
I don't see how this is impossible to achieve with filters (it depends of course on what you refer to by "filters").
I only know Fastmail's interfaces, and I see at least two ways to do this with Fastmail (when the MX record of example.com points to Fastamil. Of couse it can be also done if the NS record points to Fastmail and then the MX record is points within Fastmail to Fastmail's servers by default).
One way would be to have an alias for each of [email protected], [email protected] [email protected] etc. and for each alias the target is the list of email addresses that mail would be forwarded to (I have several aliases with multiple targets). Usually most addresses would have the same list of targets so it's enough to set one *@example.com alias for these and separate aliases for those that that need different target lists. Also in the above example [email protected] could just list [email protected] and [email protected] as the targets, and these emails would be forwarded to all the required destinations. I don't see any difference between this and using the same kind of service offered by a DNS company that offers SMTP forwarding. I guess many email providers and registrars offer this kind of forwarding. The difference would be only in the ser interface 9and the whether the user interface accepts multiple addresses as targets and what is the limit on the number of records the user is allowed, i.e. the number of aliases in Fastmail's terminology).

Another way is to target everything to the username, and then use filtering rules to forward any incoming email to all the required destinations. One would need to be careful not to terminate filtering before all conditions where checked. Also this may fail because of multiple copy suppression (if a mail message is received by several aliases that point to the same username, perhaps only one copy is passed on, and then the filtering would work only if all receiving aliases were recorded in the headers. I haven't checked what happens in this scenario).
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Old 4 Aug 2021, 02:26 AM   #7
JeremyNicoll
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markwolk View Post
If you point the Mx record of your domain example.com to one email service (e.g. Runbox), it will push all mail to that one email service...

If you point the Mx record of your domain example.com to cloudns.net or porkbun.com , then their interfaces allow ....
Surely all that means is that those companies are running an SMTP server. After all, it's only an SMTP server that a sending server is going to pass one of the incoming mails to.

You're not doing any discrimination/routeing of the mails at a DNS level. DNS is providing (I presume) the MX address for cloudns' or porkbun's server.

Their server is then forwarding mail (like any other SMTP server could do).

Quote:
Originally Posted by markwolk View Post
Impossible to achieve with filters.
No it isn't. I just defined a filter using a Roundcube webmail client (and many many mail-hosts run that) that "redirected" an incoming email on the domain it services to a different mail provider (fastmail in fact). I sent two test mails to the system with Roundcube on it, one that would and one that wouldn't satisfy the filter condition. The one that didn't ended up in the Roundcube system's Inbox, the other in a folder in fastmail's system (and its headers show it did go via the Roundcube system).

Exporting the filter rules from the Roundcube system shows the Sieve lines that did it:

if header :contains "subject" "jn test redirect"
{
redirect "[email protected]";
}

(I've obscured the actual target email address).


Within the headers of the redirected test mail (received finally at fastmail) you can see who sent it, the address at the Roundcube host system it was sent to, the mailbox there that that address's mails are processed in (each mailbox has its own set of rules), the address it was redirected to, and the mailbox at fastmail that processes that final address's incoming mail.
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Old 5 Aug 2021, 07:08 AM   #8
lane
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markwolk View Post
As all Tuffmail refugees, I am nervously looking for a replacement service for my 100+ domains.
...
For many years, email forwarding at registrar or DNS level has been an unreliable solution, usually not recommended. Have things changed? - I am thinking in particular of hosting the DNS at cloudns.net or porkbun.com and forwarding the emails from there. Their forwarding services have been reliable so far for me, after having tested them for a few years on several lesser important domains.

So, what's the general feeling here among you all email gurus? Forwarding: yay or nay?
Nay. The situation is still not good, though I do use forwarding for one particular purpose.

Most forwarders, though not all, are getting pretty good at not ruining DKIM on the forward, so a sender who requests discarding an email if DMARC breaks normally gets his email through if he uses DKIM as well as SPF. However, I have a couple of correspondents (with a mid-size company) whose DMARC requests rejection but only use SPF, no DKIM. Such email cannot be forwarded to a receiver who obeys the reject command, such as Google. In my case, I have it forwarded to Fastmail, which is able to receive it anyway. Fastmail used to have a "trusted forwarder" capability, though I have not looked to see whether it is still there.

ARC is supposed to solve some of the forwarding problems, but I don't know to what extent it works for various receivers, and of course it would depend on whether the forwarding server puts their stamp on things. Google, Microsoft and Fastmail do, which are all I am using at present.
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Old 5 Aug 2021, 06:19 PM   #9
markwolk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lane View Post
Nay. The situation is still not good,(...)
Very helpful. Deliverability of forwarded mails is still a problem.
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Old 8 Aug 2021, 11:35 PM   #10
SideshowBob
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markwolk View Post
A vanity domain is a domain that redirects to another to allow for common misspellings or paronyms. wikipedia.com and wikipedia.net are vanity domains of wikipedia.org.
"Vanity domain" is a rather pejorative term for a domain used by an individual rather than an organization.

I've never heard your definition used before, and it doesn't make any sense IMO.
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Old 12 Sep 2021, 07:28 PM   #11
petergh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markwolk View Post
As all Tuffmail refugees, I am nervously looking for a replacement service for my 100+ domains.

At this stage, I focus on Runbox (where I have had a spare account for ages)... but... frankly... I find it is not even half as good as Tuffmail for my needs.
Have you considered RollerNet (https://www.rollernet.us/mail-services/, also https://acc.rollernet.us/help/mail/)? Back in the day when I used them (they've been around for many years) they sported a quite advanced account control center that offered many of the same power features that Tuffmail did. May be a bit pricey depending on your needs, but there's no limit on the number of domains you can host with them.
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Old 12 Sep 2021, 07:42 PM   #12
markwolk
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Yes; thank you. I found Rollernet to be (probably) very powerful, but also too obscure and cryptic for my average brain.

I am now settled with Runbox, and have also a backup account with Fastmail. So, all sorted; thanks!
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Old 12 Sep 2021, 08:17 PM   #13
TenFour
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I have found Porkbun's email forwarding very reliable. One option might be to forward your emails to some other service that you know is reliable in accepting them, then access that mailbox with POP or IMAP. I don't have lots of domains like you do, but I do have three or four addresses on maybe 10-12 domains that receive occasional emails and I have them forwarded by the domain host to my main mailbox. These addresses don't receive much email. For addresses that I use a lot I use IMAP to be able to send and receive from another mailbox. I think the danger with forwarding is that after awhile any address is bound to receive spam and then your final receiving mailbox might automatically classify all mail coming from that source as spam, which could end up blocking all email from your domain host.
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Old 13 Sep 2021, 05:49 AM   #14
markwolk
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Yes: Porkbun is excellent (probably the best registrar nowadays), and I do use its email forwarding for many of my domains. I would not use Porkbun's email forwarding for my most important domains, though, as it uses SpamAssassin, which cannot be disabled. I don't like the idea of SpamAssassin checking all my incoming mails, as I can see the potential of it leading to unforeseen problems like blacklisting my own domains through no fault of my own if a spammer sends repeat mails to my domains. Porkbun's support assured me that this never happened; but I remain wary,
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Old 14 Sep 2021, 03:25 AM   #15
SideshowBob
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Originally Posted by markwolk View Post
I don't like the idea of SpamAssassin checking all my incoming mails, as I can see the potential of it leading to unforeseen problems like blacklisting my own domains through no fault of my own if a spammer sends repeat mails to my domains. Porkbun's support assured me that this never happened; but I remain wary,
Seems unlikely. SpamAssassin doesn't share anything between installations, and people don't report the recipients of spam.
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