NinerNet Communications™
System Status

Server and System Status

Email migration: Update 5

24 August 2015 13:32:04 +0000

Based on the lack of progress on resolving the connectivity issue at this point, we’re going to say that completing the migration tonight is unlikely. However, on the off chance that there’s a breakthrough before then, we’re keeping our options open.

We will post more here as soon as we know.

Email migration: Update 4

24 August 2015 02:49:26 +0000

We were not able to overcome the last hurdle — and I do mean the very last hurdle, and an unexpected one at that — to completing this migration on time this weekend, so we have decided to postpone it before the server enters its usual busy Monday morning.

We plan to figure out whatever is causing the last hurdle — a networking issue between the old and new servers — and recommence the migration at 22:00 UTC on 24 January. (Please check the World Time Server to convert to your time zone.) We expect (and certainly hope) that the issue will be resolved by then.

Confirmation of the rescheduled time will be posted here within the next few hours.

We sincerely apologise for the delay in completing this migration.

Email migration: Update 3

23 August 2015 11:50:57 +0000

The migration was halted during the early morning (UTC) of 23 August while we worked out some complications. Work on the migration will continue during the afternoon of the 23rd. It is our intention to complete the migration on Sunday.

In summary, nothing has changed yet. All email that is planned to be migrated has not yet been migrated.

Email migration: Update 2

22 August 2015 19:10:05 +0000

Work on the email migration has started. We will post updates here as required.

Email migration: Update 1

21 August 2015 21:58:35 +0000

Following are the details of the email migration of some clients this weekend. This is a long post, but we’ve broken it down and bolded key points for quicker scanning. You can use your web browser’s “find” feature to look for key words that might help you locate information about any issues you may encounter.

  • WHO: If this migration affects you, you will have received an email about it on 14 August. All remaining email domains hosted on server NC018 are being migrated to server NC027.
  • WHAT: Migration of the remaining email accounts on server NC018 to server NC027.
  • WHERE: In cyberspace, of course.
  • WHEN: The migration will start at 19:00 UTC on Saturday, 22 August. Please check the World Time Server for a conversion to your time zone. We do not have a precise estimate for the duration of the migration, but it will be several hours. During that time email will continue to be delivered, either to the accounts on the old server (NC018) before being transferred to the new server, or to the accounts on the new server (NC027). Updates will continue to be posted here throughout the migration.
  • WHY: Server NC018 has outlived its useful life and needs to be replaced. The new server is an improvement over the old server in every respect.

Things you need to do:

Change the configuration of your email program after 19:00 UTC on 22 August. (Please check the World Time Server for a conversion to your time zone.) Here are links to illustrated guides to configure the most common email programs in use:

(Our thanks to “The Lowdown” / African VSAT Systems for these guides.)

Here is a summary of the main configuration items that need to be changed:

  • Use port 587 for outgoing (SMTP) mail.
  • Use TLS (or SSL if TLS is not present in your email program) for all incoming and outgoing mail.
  • Use SMTP authentication for outgoing mail.
  • Make sure you’re using a sub-domain of the niner.net domain for mail server names:
    • mail27.niner.net for incoming (POP or IMAP) email, and
    • smtp27.niner.net for outgoing (SMTP) email.

And here are the actual settings that we provide to new clients on server NC027:

  • Email address: you@yourdomain.com
  • User name: you@yourdomain.com
  • Password: The correct password on your email account. In the future, if you want to change your password, you can do so through the control panel (administrators only) or through the webmail.
  • Password type: Plain
  • Incoming (POP/IMAP) mail server: mail27.niner.net
  • Incoming mail server port: 995 (POP) or 993 (IMAP)
  • Outgoing (SMTP) mail server: smtp27.niner.net
  • Outgoing mail server port: 587
  • Authentication: Turned on for SMTP
  • Encrypted connection: TLS (if it’s an option in your email program) or SSL (if TLS is not shown as an option). If TLS doesn’t work, please try SSL.

All of the above settings are important and required. None are optional. Your password has not changed from what it was on the old server, so if you’re not sure that you remember your password, please don’t edit it in your email program.

Using the above settings you can configure any email program on any computer, phone or tablet, even ones for which we have not provided unique instructions.

In our experience, 99% of problems clients experience with email are mis-configurations. If you run into a problem, please take a deep breath, then double- and triple-check your configuration — spelling, check/tick boxes, and various other parameters — to be 100% sure that everything is set EXACTLY correctly. When configuring email settings, there is no such thing as “close enough”. All of the settings are there for a reason and need to be set exactly as they are shown in the configuration instructions — with the one exception where some email programs work with TLS set and some with SSL set. Rebooting can work wonders … seriously. When reporting problems to support, please ensure you send us the exact text of any error messages you are seeing. We cannot help you if you just tell us that “it doesn’t work,” as our first response will be to ask you for the exact text of any error messages you see and we could have had that on the first message.

Here are a few additional notes:

  • Mailing lists: Domains with Mailman mailing lists will not be migrated this weekend, but they will in the very near future. Domains with custom mailing lists will be migrated this weekend.
  • Letter case: All email accounts will be set up in lower-case letters. This doesn’t make a difference from an email point of view (messages addressed to BOB@EXAMPLE.COM and bob@example.com will be delivered to the same account), but it does make a difference when trying to log in. If, for example, you set up your account on server NC018 as Bob@example.com, it will be set up as bob@example.com on server NC027. If you try to log in as Bob@example.com, your attempt will fail, so please log in as bob@example.com.
  • Accounts over quota: The contents of accounts that are already over quota on server NC018 will not be transferred.
  • Address books, calendars, notes, etc.: If you have any of these stored in the webmail on server NC018, these will not be transferred. Please ensure that you have local copies of this data to upload to the new server.
  • Changes on server NC018: Please do not add, remove or change any email accounts to, from or on server NC018 after 00:01 (12:01 am) UTC on Saturday, 22 August. (World Time Server.) Any such changes may not be reflected on server NC027.
  • Control panel log-in details: Following the completion of the migration, account contacts will be sent log-in information for the control panel on server NC027.

Based on experience from previous migrations, here are some issues we expect that some clients will experience:

  • Multiple copies of old messages: This has been reported by some users of Outlook. This is an Outlook issue over which we have no control, and it should eventually clear up.
  • Company contacts: If you are not our contact for your company, please deal with the person who is our contact, and we will assist them. If they are unable to help you, they will refer us to you.
  • MTN business customers: Some (not all) MTN business customers have a unique SMTP set-up that requires they use MTN settings for outgoing email, and you may not be able to use our server to send email. If you are an MTN business customer, this may apply to you if you already have an MTN IP address in the outgoing (SMTP) server field in your email program’s settings. If that is the case, it’s probably best to leave your SMTP settings as they are. However, the incoming (POP/IMAP) server settings need to be exactly as described in our configuration documentation (linked to above).
  • iPhone: It seems that the iPhone does not turn on SSL/TLS by default, so you have to go out of your way to find this under “advanced” settings and turn it on. Please also ensure that the port is set correctly for incoming mail: 993 for IMAPS (IMAP over SSL/TLS).
  • Android: Contrary to the iPhone, we’ve had a report from a client using an Android-based phone that port 993 did not work, but 143 did. Try port 993 first if you’re using IMAP, but then try port 143 if port 993 doesn’t work.
  • Eudora: The “Secure Sockets when Sending” field on the “Generic Properties” tab needs to be set to “Required, STARTTLS”, and the “Secure Sockets when Receiving” field on the “Incoming Mail” tab needs to be set to “Required, Alternate Port”.
  • Firewalls: We spent a significant amount of time dealing with a firewall issue with one client, after being assured that the firewall had been opened by the network management company managing their firewall. It turned out that the firewall was not open, or at least not sufficiently for the type of connection that was required. After it was properly configured, email miraculously flowed with no problem. Please check your firewalls!
  • Email-sending applications: Another fairly unique situation was encountered with a client who uses a “localhost” web and mail server installed on their computer to run a reservations system. This was unable to connect to the mail server, and the vendor of the software was also unable to determine the problem with their software.
  • Bouncing email: If some people tell you that their email to you is bouncing, and the bounce message reads as follows — “REJECT ACCESS DENIED. Your email was rejected because the sending mail server does not identify itself correctly. (.local)” — then their mail server (probably Microsoft Exchange) is incorrectly configured. Please send them a link to Email migration: Update 13 and ask them to forward that link to their system administrator for resolution of the issue.
  • Outlook 2003: Outlook 2003 does not support TLS. This is software that is over a decade old, and Microsoft stopped supporting it in 2014. Now would be a good time to upgrade … seriously. However, apparently a 2004 “hotfix” available from Microsoft will add TLS support to Outlook 2003, but we cannot vouch for this personally, nor are we aware of any clients who have used this.

As always, please contact NinerNet support if you have any questions, concerns or problems. Thank-you for your patience as we move your email accounts to a newer, faster, more secure server.

SSL/TLS certificate renewed

21 August 2015 12:05:08 +0000

The *.niner.net wildcard SSL/TLS certificate has been renewed and has been installed for all services on all servers, except NC026 as it will be shut down any day now.

If you receive any SSL/TLS warnings, please try restarting the application (program) in question — e.g., web browser or email client. If that doesn’t work, try rebooting. If you’re still running into issues, please contact NinerNet support with the exact text of any error messages.

Thank-you.

Migration of remaining email accounts on server NC018

14 August 2015 14:20:09 +0000

Over the weekend of 22-23 August 2015 we will be migrating all email accounts still on server NC018 to server NC027. Server NC027 has been our “new” mail server for the last two years, and all new domains have been hosted on it since it was set up in 2013. Server NC018 has outlived its useful life and needs to be replaced. The new server is an improvement over the old server in every respect.

We will be posting additional details here over the next week before the migration. However, you should be aware of the following initial details:

  • From the start of the migration, which we anticipate will take several hours, existing email accounts on server NC018 will no longer be accessible.
  • All new incoming email will be directed to the new server. Accounts on the old server will no longer be accessible after the start of the migration.
  • No incoming email will be lost during the migration, although it may be delayed briefly.
  • We will attempt to migrate the contents of mail boxes to the new server, with the exception of any accounts that are already over quota. However, we strongly recommend that you use your email program to create “local” folders (i.e., folders on your own computer) and drag and drop any messages stored on the server into your local folders, from where you can easily create back-ups.
  • As has always been our webmail policy, any data stored in the webmail other than email will not be migrated. This includes address books, notes, calendars and any other features of the Horde suite that you may be using. Please ensure that you save on your own computer copies of any data you have saved in the webmail application.
  • Except in rare cases, passwords will remain the same. However, there will be a requirement to make a small change to the configuration of your email program for sending email. We will be providing those details.
  • If you are downloading your email using POP, there will be no changes required for your incoming settings. If you are using IMAP, you may need to adjust your setting for folder structure. We will provide details if necessary closer to the migration date.
  • We ask that you do not make any changes through the control panel to email accounts as of the close of business on Friday 21 August. If you do, those changes — e.g., the addition or removal of email accounts or password changes — may not be reflected on the new server.

If you have any questions, please reply to the email you will receive from us with details. Thanks for your patience as we work to improve the service that we provide to you.

NC018: March network maintenance postponed

27 February 2015 22:31:29 +0000

The company running the data centres in which servers NC018 and NC020 are located has again postponed the network maintenance described earlier, and they have again not provided a new date.

We sincerely apologise yet again for this embarrassing false alarm, and we have voiced our significant annoyance to our supplier. When they pick a new date out of the lucky packet, we’ll let you know.

NC018: Network maintenance in March

27 February 2015 09:13:53 +0000

There will be network maintenance this weekend in the data centre where server NC018 is located. During this maintenance the server will be inaccessible for about five minutes. This is necessary maintenance that cannot be rescheduled.

The maintenance will happen between 06:00 and 12:00 on 2 March (UTC), but the server will only be inaccessible for five minutes during that six-hour window.

No work is occurring on the server itself.

This will affect about half of our email clients (including our own email). Very broadly speaking, if you have a web and email hosting account, this will affect your access to email for a few minutes, as well as your website. Most WordPress-based websites will not be affected, as will those running various other content-management systems. Incoming email will not be lost, only delayed for a few minutes.

If you would like confirmation of whether or not you will be affected, or if you have any other questions or concerns, please contact support and we will respond.

Thank-you for your patience during this maintenance to keep our systems running securely and reliably.

POODLE maintenance: Complete

23 October 2014 22:54:04 +0000

We have completed the maintenance to mitigate against exploitation of the POODLE vulnerability.

Because the effects of this maintenance could potentially be wide-ranging, please contact support if you have any issues with connecting over a secure connection to any of our servers. We don’t believe there will be any issues with web (HTTPS) connections, but there may be with some email (SMTP, IMAP and POP) connections by older email programs. That said, an exploit against this vulnerability has only been demonstrated using JavaScript and a web browser, so email connections (even if using SSLv3) are not generally considered to be at risk.

Thanks for your patience during this maintenance.

UPDATE, 2014-10-24: Please read some details on this maintenance, and learn more about SSL and TLS and email security, on our corporate blog.

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Systems at a Glance:


SystemStatusPing
NC018OperationalPing
NC019InternalPing
NC020OperationalPing
NC023OperationalPing
NC024InternalPing
NC027OperationalPing
NC028InternalPing
NC031OperationalPing

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This blog provides information about the status of NinerNet Communications systems. Dates and times of posts to this blog are in the UTC time zone, and dates and times given for events are also in the UTC time zone, although conversions may be offered for some time zones common to our clients. Please use the World Time Server to ensure accurate conversion of dates and times to your own time zone.

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