When things go wrong

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Sometimes thing go wrong during the set up of our spam filtering service. Sometimes things are running fine and then all of a sudden email stops coming in. When this happens there's a panic. Where is out email? is it bouncing? What is going on? How do we get it fixed? There are a number of things that can happen and there are ways to figure it out and fix it. We will separate this into two sections although there is some overlap. The first will be when you are initially setting up the spam filtering service and the second is when things go wrong after spam filtering has been working for a while.


Most Common problems

Just a quick reference here for those who just want the answer.

  1. If you are using cPanel do not use Automatic Detection. Use "Local Mail Exchanger".
  2. The MX records should point to junkEmailfilter - not junkmailfilter - don't forget the E.
  3. You need to remove all your original MX records. Do not set your old MX record as the highest numbered MX.
  4. If you activated spam filtering and you stopped getting email for some reason and you can't get it to work - put it back the way it was.
  5. This is VERY IMPORTANT - if your domain is broken, don't email us from that domain. Email us from somewhere else like gmail. If your domain is broken and you email us from that domain we won't be able to email you. If there is an emergency - please include a phone number as well.

Problems During Setup

If you active our service and your email quits coming in after you change your MX records there's 2 things you need to keep in mind. If you can't fix it any other way you can put things back the way they were and try again later. Whenever you make changes to MX records save what the original setting were and set them back to original. Often the easiest way to fix something is to undo what you last changed. If you don't remember your setting contact your email provider and ask them for help.

The ext thing that is important is if you contact us by email, don't send email from the domain that is having the problem because we might not be able to reply to you because of the problem. Send email from a yahoo, hotmail, gmail or some other account that is not affected by the outage. Also include a phone number in case we need to call you and tell you what to do.

Often the problem involves some simple change or mistake that was made and we can usually figure it out fairly quickly. The more information you give us the easier we can figure out the problem. We don't want your eamil cut off either so your problem is our problem.

It is also important that you know that you can have your technical people contact us and the support people from your email provider. We will work with anyone who is supporting you. So feel free to forward our support information on you your other providers.

Important Points:

  • Try to undo the last thing you changed
  • Be sure we can contact you in response
  • Contact us at: support@junkemailfilter.com or 415-992-3400

How Email Delivery Works

Before you use our service email is routed from the internet to you as follows:

+-----------+         +-------------------+
| Internet  |---->----| Your email server |
+-----------+         +-------------------+

The world knows where to send your email through MX records. (Mail eXchange) MX records are part of your DNS (Domain Name Services) which act as a directory for the Internet. In order for email to get to you your name services have to work, and they have to be set up correctly.

When you switch over to our services your email is routed through us first. We get in between the Internet and your email server. We accept email for your domain, process it, take out the spam, and then forward it on to your server. There are a number of steps and all of them have to work for you to get your email. If it doesn't work we isolate which step is failing and that step needs to be fixed to restore delivery. Here is a diagram of the email flow using our services.

+-----------+         +-----------------+         +-------------------+
| Internet  |---->----| Our Spam Filter |---->----| Your email server |
+-----------+         +-----------------+         +-------------------+

Things that can go wrong during setup

When changing over what we do is read your current MX records and put the lowest numbered MX record in our routing table. That tells us where to send your good email after we get done with it. Then we have yu change your MX records to point to us. If either of these steps are not done right then your email will stop.

Generally when your email stops during an error the email is not lost. We have a number of fail safe tricks to prevent loss. But some things we can't control so it is possible that your email will bounce.

If we are forwarding your email to the wrong place it won't work. We generally get this right but if you move your email service and we don't know about it we might be forwarding your good email to the old location. If you contact us we can easily tell if your email is coming to us, and if we are forwarding your email on and it is being accepted or rejected.

MX Record Mistakes

Generally however when your email stops during setup it is one of two things. If you set the MX wrong then your email won't get to us in the first place. The first thing you should do is check your MX records agains the instructions to make sure you set it right. Common MX record mistakes are:

  • Misspelling - it's junkEmailfilter - not junkmailfilter.
  • Missing Period at end - some DNS system require the records end in a period(.)
  • Wrong Order - The priority numbers are important. If you get the sequence wrong it won't work

Your Server Rejecting you own Email

The other thing that commonly happens is that after your MX records are changed to point to us, your server things it is no longer hosting your domain because your server is no longer the lowest MX record. When this happens your server reject email that we send to your server as good. Your server responds with messages like:

Relaying Prohbited
Authentication Required

This is because your server wants to forward the email back to us because we are the lowest numbered MX. Your logs will indicate this is happening. We can see it on our end as well when you contact us. This is a serious problem.

If you have control of your email server change the settings so that your server accepts email even though your server isn't the lowest MX. If you don't control your server contact your email provider and get them to change it for you.

cPanel Users

Changing_your_MX_records_with_cPanel - Instructions for users of cPanel

IMPORTANT - If you can't get this fixed quickly you can put the MX records back the way they were to get your email flowing again. You won't have spam filtering, but you will get your email. We can try again later to get spam filtering set up once the cause of the rejection is fixed.

Other Problems

You don't need to change your delete your other DNA A records. For example. If your old MX was mail.yourdomain.com then we will probably set up forwarding to mail.yourdomain.com. If you delete the A record for mail.yourdomain.com then our servers won't be able to find the your server to forward your email to. In this case email for you will be stored on our system waiting for the problem to be fixed.

Things that can go wrong after its been working

Everything is working fine and then all of a sudden it stops. Something has changed and we have to figure out what happened. Even if you didn't do anything things can still stop. But if you were making changes then the first thing to do is to undue what you just did. When calling us for support let us know if someone was making changes when the email stopped.

DNS Changes or Failures

If you change your DNS and you delete the host name we are forwarding to, or change it to the wrong IP then your email will stop. DNS is confusing even for experts. We can generally figure out what went wrong but the more information we have from you the quicker we can figure it out.

Domain Expired

If your domain expires then your email will stop. Make sure your domain registration is current.

Your Server Fails

If you have your own server check it first and see if it's working. If you run out of disk space or memory then your server will stop accepting email from us. If your server is working, check to see if our servers are trying to send email to you. If we are and your server isn't accepting it then you need to look into why. If nothing is coming in then it might be on our end. Information about this is helpful in determining what is wrong so we can fix it.

Tests you can do to diagnose the problem

If nothing is coming in you can do some tests to help us figure out what is going wrong. Go to an external email account like Yahoo and send an email to yourself at your domain. If the email doesn't show up check for a bounce message. If the message bounces then forward that bounce message to our support staff. The bounce message will generally tell us WHY the message bounced and will be a good clue as to where to look.

If there is no bounce message the that to is significant. If we have a problem then we might not be accepting your email from Yahoo, and Yahoo is waiting to retry. If we can't send to your server we might have accepted the email and it is stored on our system waiting for an opportunity to send it on to you. So no bounce is also an important clue about what is happening.

Contacting Us

The best way to contact us about problem is to email us at support@junkemailfilter.com. You can also call us at 415-992-3400. Email is better because you can send a lot more information in the email that is spelled correctly than a voice call can do. However, if you are down and you're bot getting any email then a phone call might be better.

When contacting us, you you aren't getting any email, don't send us an email from the domain that isn't working. We can't reply to you. Send us an email from another domain or a yahoo, gmail, or hotmail account. If your situation is an emergency include your cell phone number or some place where we can reach you immediately.

Often when you are getting no email it's because the problem is on your end. Your server's hard drive might be full. Your domain might be expired. Someone changed the MX records and did it wrong. Most of the time if the problem is on your end we will know what the problem is and we might be able to instruct you as to how to fix it.

When emailing us please include as much information as possible to help us figure out what the issue is. If you are reporting a false positive, for example, please tell us who the message was from, who it was send to, if you are the recipient or the sending, what the error message was that you received, or any other information that is relevant to finding and solving your problem. This helps us solve your problem faster.

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