NinerNet Communications™
System Status

Server and System Status

NC036: Maintenance complete

15 December 2018 19:57:20 +0000

Our scheduled maintenance to increase the storage space available for email accounts on the mail server (NC036) is complete. The ability to send and receive email was not available between 19:17 and 19:44 UTC. The expanded disk space has been tested and all is running normally.

If you have any issues or question, please contact NinerNet support. Thank-you.

NC036: Scheduled maintenance underway

15 December 2018 19:14:54 +0000

The scheduled maintenance to increase hard drive space on server NC036 is underway. We will post progress reports or notice that the maintenance is complete as necessary.

NC036: Scheduled mail server maintenance

14 December 2018 07:03:01 +0000

During this weekend’s maintenance window we will be adding hard drive storage to server NC036 to continue to provide more storage space for a growing number of growing email accounts. This maintenance is scheduled to start at 19:00 UTC and we anticipate it will last less than one hour.

During the maintenance the ability to send and receive email will not be available, both via standalone email programs (e.g., Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.) and the webmail. Incoming email will be queued on the sending servers until our server is back online again, after which it will then be delivered to our server and your email account. This may result in a delay longer than the planned hour of the maintenance though.

Please monitor this status page to be notified of the start and end of the maintenance. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact NinerNet support.

Thank-you for your patience as we continue to work to improve our services to you.

NC036: Mail server blocked by Microsoft

14 December 2018 05:33:38 +0000

We are aware that the IP address of server NC036 (the primary mail server) has again been blocked by Microsoft’s various mail services, variously known as Outlook.com, MSN, Hotmail, Live.com, etc.

Although we are a member of their Smart Network Data Services programme and Junk Mail Reporting Program, which are supposed to allow us to proactively prevent these kinds of issues, we have been unable to use the service as advertised, or at least as we understand it’s supposed to work. We will continue to attempt to have this server’s IP address removed from their blacklist, and report here when we have success.

In the meantime, outgoing mail to their primary domains (hotmail.ca, hotmail.com, hotmail.co.uk, live.com, msn.com and outlook.com) is being routed through our relay server. If you receive a bounce message that reads similarly the one below to an email you’ve sent, it is probably for a private domain hosted by Microsoft of which we are not aware. Please contact us and we will add it to the list of domains for which email is routed through our relay server:

host 901e3cd0af6f44ab11b5a5e8a49da3.pamx1.hotmail.com[104.47.0.33] said: 550
5.7.1 Unfortunately, messages from [178.62.195.26] weren’t sent. Please
contact your Internet service provider since part of their network is on
our block list (S3140). You can also refer your provider to
http://mail.live.com/mail/troubleshooting.aspx#errors.
[HE1EUR01FT033.eop-EUR01.prod.protection.outlook.com] (in reply to MAIL
FROM command)

Please remember that all email you send through our mail server must be to recipients with whom you already have a business or personal relationship, and all mass email must be explicitly requested — i.e., Confirmed opt-in (COI) or Double opt-in (DOI) email.

Thanks for your cooperation, and our apologies for this inconvenience.

NC036: Migration update 25 — Final

18 June 2018 08:54:43 +0000

The migration of all email accounts from server NC027 to server NC036 is complete. In fact, it was successfully completed at 04:00 UTC on 4 June. What followed over the next few days was an unprecedented avalanche of misinformation and red herrings that resulted in our moving the new server to another data centre (a move that took ten times longer than the previous move from the data centre where NC027 was located) where the same “problems” experienced by only some of our clients magically reappeared.

We planned the migration to have absolutely no impact on existing email configurations. We did this by pointing legacy sub-domains of the niner.net domain that named server NC027 — e.g., smtp27.niner.net — to server NC036. At the conclusion of the migration these sub-domains were indeed pointing to the new server. In other words, on Monday morning (4 June) email programs would have thought they were still downloading mail from the same server, not realising (or needing to realise) that they were in fact downloading from a new server.

However, it turned out that a significant minority of email programs were somehow misconfigured with settings that worked on the old server, but stopped working when connecting to the new server. Those clients who were using the correct settings experienced no disruption at all, and when those clients with incorrect settings corrected them on the morning of Monday the 11th, the problems were fixed instantly.

Over the rest of that week (11-15 June) we helped a few clients with some issues unique to how they use email, especially where those practices clashed with current best practices for email transmission. We also dealt with some issues of senders whose mail servers were behaving improperly, causing their emails to be blocked because they looked like spammers. This notably affected email from the ZRA, but their emails are once again flowing unimpeded.

We’re monitoring the spam filtering on the new server. Any message that the server identifies as spam will have the subject of the message prefixed to add “[SPAM]“. You can use this to configure your email program or the webmail to deal with spam automatically, by filtering it into your “junk” folder or deleting it entirely. We recommend filtering to the junk folder so that you can catch the occasional legitimate message that is misclassified as spam.

Finally, in recognition of the fact that the emergency migration of the server to a new data centre on 6 June disrupted all clients’ email, and the fact that those clients with misconfigured email programs experienced a week of disruption before the issue was identified, we will be applying a one-week (quarter month) credit to the accounts of all clients hosted on server NC036. We apologise for the difficulties caused, and will apply what was learned this time to future migrations.

Thank-you, as always, for your custom and patience.

NC036: Migration update 23 — SMTP AUTH is required for users under this sender domain

11 June 2018 09:38:23 +0000

There are two reasons why you may be getting the above error in response to messages you’ve sent to addresses on domains hosted by NinerNet, likely your own domain:

  • It may be because you’re sending from an address on a domain that we host, but instead of sending your email through our SMTP server (smtp.niner.net) you’re sending through another SMTP server, possibly that of an ISP or another email service provider. In some cases this can happen because of a situation similar to that described in the sixth bullet point of our post “NC036: Migration update 20 — Solutions“, where you’ve sent the email through a third party, perhaps an ISP, or an email account you have with another provider.
  • If you’re using some cloud-hosted application that tries to send email to you as you (or another user on your own domain), then that email looks like spam to the mail server, because lots of spammers mistakenly try to get their email through by sending their spam from your email address to your email address, or from another address on your own domain to you.

The solutions are, respectively (and respectfully):

  • Configure your email program to use smtp.niner.net to send email from any domain that we host. If you’re following the configuration instructions we send you, then that is the case by default, and always has been.
  • Have the provider of the cloud service send those emails from an address — even a “no-reply” address — on their own domain, or use SMTP AUTH to send the email through smtp.niner.net from an address on your own domain, just as you or any other human with an address on your domain would.

NC036: Migration update 22 — A word about forwarding email

11 June 2018 08:36:59 +0000

Over the years we’ve noticed that a certain percentage of our clients are in the habit of forwarding all of their email to external free webmail services — e.g., Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, etc. Why do we even notice this? Well, because these free services often delay your email, and so it queues on our server for anywhere between minutes and days. There are complicated reasons for this, but once you realise that you’re not the only one forwarding your email, you can see how these free webmail services might decide to limit the number of messages that they accept from our servers. This is especially noticeable when (not if) a few spams get through and (ironically) the receivers — the very NinerNet clients who have configured their email accounts here to forward to their free webmail provider — complain to the free webmail provider about the spam by clicking the convenient “this is spam” button. The free provider then responds by blocking or limiting mail from our server, making the reporting of the spam by the NinerNet client self-defeating!

Among other reasons, what people who do this are running into here is introducing multiple points of failure. If a message arrives on the NinerNet mail server, it’s made it! It has arrived where it was intended by the sender to be delivered. But now you’ve told our server to forward it somewhere else. It’s like telling a runner at the finish line that he has to do the same race again. And the runner might not make it the second time, just as your email might not make it into your Gmail account.

Right now there are a few dozen emails queued on our server waiting to be accepted by these free email services. Given that some of them have been queued for several days, most of them will likely bounce back to the senders within the next few hours. There is nothing unusual about this; we see it all the time, and it has little (if anything) to do with the mail server migration.

If webmail is your preferred way of accessing your email, we do (obviously) provide webmail on your own domain. (And non-Gmail webmail these days is way better than it used to be!) If you prefer the webmail offered by your free provider of choice, that’s fine, as long as you’re aware of the inherent risks of delayed and bounced email if you choose to forward everything.

If you’d like to discuss alternatives to forwarding your email, let us know and we can provide options to you or address any concerns you may have.

NC036: Migration update 14 — Microsoft blocks

6 June 2018 15:43:33 +0000

It seems that Microsoft blocks every IP address on the Internet by default, except those for which mail server administrators like NinerNet have to beg repeatedly to have removed. Our requests keep being ignored, despite the fact that we are members of both their Smart Network Data Service (SNDS) and their Junk Mail Reporting Program (JMRP), but we will keep trying.

Currently this means that we route Microsoft’s main domains — hotmail.com, outlook.com, msn.com and live.com — through our relay server which is not blacklisted as it pre-dates their aggressive blocking practices. However, if you send email to a non-Microsoft domain hosted by Outlook/Office365, you will almost certainly receive a bounce message that looks like this (if the domain you sent to hosted by Microsoft is “exampledomain.com”):

Remote-MTA: dns; exampledomain-com.mail.protection.outlook.com
Diagnostic-Code: smtp; 550 5.7.606 Access denied, banned sending IP
    [178.62.195.26]. To request removal from this list please visit
    https://sender.office.com/ and follow the directions. For more information
    please go to  http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=526655 (AS16012609)

NC036: Migration update 13

6 June 2018 12:52:23 +0000

We will post a postmortem here in due course, hopefully with 24-48 hours, along with a thousand more apologies, but we are looking for feedback to ensure that all clients are able to connect to the server and download and send email, as this was not the case on Monday and Tuesday.

NC036: Migration update 12 — server back online

6 June 2018 12:28:04 +0000

The transfer of the mail spools has completed and server NC036 was brought back online at 12:12 UTC.

NinerNet home page

Systems at a Glance:


Loc.SystemStatusPing
Server NC020, Chicago, United States of America, OPERATIONAL.NC020OperationalUp?
Server NC023, London, United Kingdom, OPERATIONAL.NC023OperationalUp?
Server NC028, Vancouver, Canada, INTERNAL.NC028InternalUp?
Server NC031, New York, United States of America, OPERATIONAL.NC031OperationalUp?
Server NC033, Toronto, Canada, OPERATIONAL.NC033OperationalUp?
Server NC034, Lusaka, Zambia, INTERNAL.NC034InternalUp?
Server NC035, Sydney, Australia, TESTING.NC035TestingUp?
Server NC036, Amsterdam, Netherlands, OPERATIONAL.NC036OperationalUp?
Server NC037, Seattle, United States of America, INTERNAL.NC037InternalUp?

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General Information:

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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