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Early Warning... If an email service has closed down or changed the services it offers, or if there are indications it is about to do so, post about it here.

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Old 24 Nov 2010, 08:14 AM   #46
rickdej
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Optimizing the "get your own domain" solution

Count me in as another frustrated, long time Emailias user with hundreds of aliases who got no warning of the impending shutdown. It was only dumb luck that, after the multiple short-term technical glitches I experienced with Emailias earlier this year, I decided to download my email list about six weeks before the service died.

I decided to create my own email domain as a safer, long-term solution (albeit one that has much more administrative overhead to manage). The logistics of making this work like Emailias did, however, is not obvious to me. Allow me to explain what I’ve done, and if any of you email experts have some optimization suggestions for me (even if it is a complete redo of my work so far), please tell me.

I used Emailias to create a unique email address for every business/organization I deal with. This way if one email address was sold or compromised, I could not only shut it down without affecting my other accounts, I could see who sold it (or who used inadequate security policies to guard my contact data). To replicate that experience for me and my contacts, I found a good, short domain name and bought it. I then began recreating all of the email addresses for businesses and orgs whom I deal with/buy from/subscribe to.

I quickly realized the issue of how to deal with inbound mail from hundreds of accounts was daunting. I could either create hundreds of email accounts in Outlook, but that was inconvenient to say the least, and made using webmail useless (I’d have to check too many individual accounts to see what’s come in). To resolve this, I went with auto-forwarding. All of my mails received from businesses and orgs are forwarded to one aggregator email account. I set up Outlook (and use webmail) to access that account to monitor my inbound business email.

What this means, administratively, is that every time I create a new “emailias”-type address, I need to log into my email server control panel, create an email account, and then create an auto-forwarder for that new account to the aggregator email account.

Then there’s the problem of replies. When I reply to a message forwarded to the aggregator account, the reply email address is different than the original, individualized one. That can be confusing to some, and worse yet, they might change the official address they use to respond to me (or at a minimum, add that aggregator address to their email database). As a result, I am potentially exposed to losing control of that aggregator account to spammers. And as this system of mine grows, if I was forced to change the aggregator account due to spam, I’d have to go into each forwarder on my email service’s control panel to change it – hundreds of them.

All of this work (at least the initial set up) is making me question whether this work flow is the best solution, or wonder if I am missing something that I could do to tighten up the administrative overhead/security of all this. I am hoping that the gurus out there might advise me on a better way to manage this. Any thoughts?

Rick
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Old 24 Nov 2010, 08:44 AM   #47
rickdej
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Update to Optimizing the "get your own domain" solution

OK, I just learned that when I create an email message in Outlook 2010, I can click the Options tab on the ribbon and then click Direct Replies To. I can select “Have replies sent to” and enter the custom (unique) email address dedicated to that business/org. That appears to solve the multiple email address reply confusion question (it’s another manual task to perform, but I see no better way to go for this).

Does anyone have any better ideas on how to set up and manage their own email domains so they can be used the way we used Emailias? I’d love to hear about your ideas. Thanks.

Rick
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Old 25 Nov 2010, 02:30 PM   #48
ScottS
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Reply to Optimizing the "get your own domain" solution

I haven't found a clean integrated solution, so I went with a "Plan B" option of using E4ward to create custom aliases using my own domain name, and Spamex to create custom or random aliases using the spamex.com domain. Both services offer unlimited aliases with reply masking for around $10 per year.

I use E4ward and my own domain name for my "A-list" senders that I always want to receive mail from. Each sender gets their own alias, and mail to invalid recipients is bounced back to the sending MTA. If anything ever happens to E4ward, I will find another forwarding service and recreate all my aliases, or I can globally forward everything sent to the domain. I really don't like the option of global forwarding because spammers will often send their crap to common addresses like "sales" or "webmaster", but at least it will keep the messages flowing until I find and configure another forwarding service. The downside of E4ward is that you need to login to their web site and manually enter both the alias name and the web site name each time you want to create a new alias. The process is somewhat clunky, but at least I know I won't have to change my email addresses if my forwarding service goes out of business.

For less important senders and/or web sites where I simply need an immediate e-mail address to get into their site (like this newsgroup), I use Spamex. Spamex works a lot like emailias in that they have the links button that quickly creates a new alias and automatically associates it with the current web site. This is a much easier process than E4ward, but I'm back to square one if Spamex tanks. Since I only use this for non-critical senders, I can live with that risk.

The bottom line is that I choose whether I want stability or simplicity. I estimate that 20% of all my emailias aliases were for critical senders where stability is important, 40% were for non-critical senders, and 40% were for obsolete senders that I never took the time to clean up.

Note to Spamex: If you guys would ever get your act together and reply to support requests for using custom domain names, we could avoid all this crap and use you for everything.
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Old 26 Nov 2010, 01:13 AM   #49
RicardoSwe
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Just figured out that emailias.com went "poof".

Thanks to Paul for his good service. Sorry it turned out this way.

I did not receive any notice from emailias. I was a subscriber for several years. I also never downloaded a list of my emailias IDs. (Lesson learned !!)

One recovery method I have is -- gmail has saved 120+ messages forwarded by emailias, so at least I can see many of the regular communicators and go to their sites to update my email.

Ricardo
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Old 28 Nov 2010, 03:24 PM   #50
Shelded
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I don't know the Emalias features, but I used http://www.sneakemail.com/ for most of ten years. I gladly recommend them for what they do. I also suggest that you could use Fastmail's plus-addressing and aliases to create nearly unlimited DAs.

It's a sorry thing to have paid for something and gotten locked out of it with little/no warning. That is what we expect to avoid by paying, even if the TOS allow it.
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Old 2 Dec 2010, 03:04 AM   #51
e4ward
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Representative of:
E4ward.com
Quote:
If anything ever happens to E4ward,....
Just an FYI, we are doing fine. E4ward is self-sustaining, and just as importantly, secure. Email forwarding services are a HUGE magnet for spam and abuse (you would not believe some of the nonsense that goes on ), and that appears to be a prime reason for the tankage of some other email forwarding services.

Quote:
The downside of E4ward is that you need to login to their web site and manually enter both the alias name and the web site name each time you want to create a new alias. The process is somewhat clunky.
The login (required only for 'outgoing-first' messages when theres no incoming mail to reply to) is definitely somewhat clunky, but it insures that only E4ward users can manufacture valid reply addresses. The reply addresses are timestamped and digitally signed when they are generated. This is vital to maintaining the reputation and integrity of the service.

Quote:
Note to Spamex: If you guys would ever get your act together and reply to support requests for using custom domain names, we could avoid all this crap and use you for everything.
As you are aware, E4ward already offers unlimited aliases and custom domains, and we are currently working on a less clunky way to support 'outgoing-first' messages without the website visit. The challenge is to keep the format of the reply address simple enough to be entered free-hand, while still making it impossible for bad guys to relay fake replies off our servers.
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Old 5 Dec 2010, 05:56 AM   #52
TimW
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Could not get Tuffmail to mask replys

Dear Thread Contributors,

Thank you, all of you, for the information in this tread. This thread has been very helpful in exploring options to sustainably replace my lost Emailias account!

Especially, thank you Paul M. for your dandy product & service.

As posted earlier, I tried out Tuffmail. Observations:

1) The only difference between my Tuffmail new account and the screenshot posted by Berenburger is that Berenburger's had an option for an auto-responder.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Berenburger View Post
Don't know if it helps you, but here's a screenshot how to create an address in the Account Manager.
2) Pointing my DNS MX record to their server cluster

mxin.mxes.net {with a priority of 10 (1st priority)}

and to one of my ISP host's mail servers {with a priority of 20 (2nd priority) if the priority 10 server was not available for some reason... i.e. the service closed} was cake work.

This is how Tuffmail verified that I owned the domain.

3) Inbound emails forwarded perfectly.

4) Reply emails offered up my root email address (very BAD). Although Tuffmail has an elaborate spam filtering setup, with 4 sorting levels (OK, not likely spam, probably spam (to fine-tune your filters) and bye-bye spam - Note: not their official names, but my interpretation of their functions), the point of a DEA is to NEVER have to peruse smam folders or use any computer resources on spam.

5) Tuffmail's Account Features page listed True ailiases at the very bottom as the last of a half-dozen "Future Development" issues.

6) As a measure of how likely development "True Ailiases" is, the last help screens for setting up email clients showed complete directions for Outlook 2000....

Conclusion. Although Tuffmail would handle many users (up to multiple hundreds) with unlimited feeder ailiases as a contract email server solution, as well as 100MB files, for a very reasonable price, they are not, in my opinion a suitable Emailias substite (unless I missed some things)

Thanks for reading. I hope this helps.
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Old 10 Dec 2010, 11:01 AM   #53
aleinss
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimW View Post
Conclusion. Although Tuffmail would handle many users (up to multiple hundreds) with unlimited feeder ailiases as a contract email server solution, as well as 100MB files, for a very reasonable price, they are not, in my opinion a suitable Emailias substite (unless I missed some things)
Not sure why would you say that. I've been using Tuffmail with aliases since 2005 and I get zero spam to my aliases. For quick purchases, I have a "throw-away" Hotmail account. However, If I'm doing long term business with a vendor, I just create a vendor@mydomain.com e-mail alias. I can set whatever spam levels per alias and in fact I can completely turn off all spam control on a per alias level.

I have one for Newegg, Amazon, Ebay, etc and the beautful thing is it all gets routed to a "merchant" e-mail folder. If ebay@mydomain.com gets spammed, well, I just make a ebay2 or whatever I want.

I only see the value in a service that just does DEAs is if you want complete simplicity. I was with Mailblocks.com for a couple years which used a system of aliases and C&R. Unforunately, the service was scooped up by AOL and dismantled. That left me scrambling to change all of my e-mail addresses. With my own domain, no more! If you can afford $10/year, you can afford your own domain.

In terms of the instructions for Outlook 2000...the setup is pretty much the same for all versions of Outlook. All that matters is the format of the login/password and what the server names are. When I setup Outlook 2010, I used the instructions given for 2000 and they work fine.
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Old 12 Dec 2010, 07:18 AM   #54
TimW
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Why Tuffmail won't work for me

Dear aleinss,

Although Tuffmail does perform as you have specified with inbound e-mails, I could not figure out how to send an e-mail without giving up my root e-mail address in the header. Emailias and Spamex and e4ward clients have come to expect this ability. As well as the ability to change the target email address for all ailiases linked to a given real email address as a group in the event you change ISPs or some spammer actually finds your root address or for some other reason.

In addition, although Tuffmail appeared to have very good spam filtering algorithms (also customizable by inbound alias), the point of never giving up your root e-mail address, even via outbound e-mails, is not only so that you are a moving target to spammers, but also so you never have to wade through a spam folder.

This issue of replying or even of originating a message to an e-mail alias without giving up my root e-mail address is the part I could not figure out. If there is a way to do this I am interested. (Emailias also offered file management tools to deal with having hundreds of disposable e-mail addresses which I will probably discuss in a different post. However emailias users are going to really miss those utilities. I know I do.)

Tuffmail seemed like such a good idea I spent a week investigating it, delaying setting my e-mail system up. Worth a shot!

Also, I completely agree with figuring out how to get you own domain and then figuring out how to point your Domain Name System MX records (telling the Domain Name System which mail service is going to handle the e-mail for your site) to your e-mail service provider of choice. 250ish e-mail addresses went up in smoke for me when emailias disappeared. Never again. Also, this time I am keeping track of my own aliases, usernames, passwords, notes, URLs, and everything else that emailias did so well, (Dandy job Paul!) myself... along with automatic backups.
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Old 12 Dec 2010, 07:43 AM   #55
TimW
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Spamex does in fact support custom domain names

A few writers on this thread have lamented that Spamex did not support custom domain names. Although they do not publish this they do in fact I do it.

Last Friday, I wrote to Spamex and asked if they did this because I had seen a comment to a post on the about.com description of Spamex stating that they did.

I received a reply later that night saying that yes they did, for

- $50 (cash, check, or money order, or the credit card number used to upgrade my spamex.com account) and

- the URL (either yourdomain.tld or yoursubdomain.yourdomain.tld) that had its MX record pointed to

smtp.spamex.com

they would do it.

The post in the about.com article said that it took spamex about two business days to reply on DNS setup issues. That was my experience as well. By late Tuesday evening my site had been approved and I am now creating spamex addresses with my own domain name.

If Spamex is listening, here is my grocery list of emailias features that I truly miss:

1) Context sensitive help. I finally found how to select and change e-mail addresses as a group hiding in the ListAddresses/View function.

2) File management-like tools. Not only the folders capability as has been discussed in this thread, but also ability to delete a disposable address. Or, since your business model relies on how many e-mail addresses I have historically created, at least the ability to hide an unused disposable e-mail address.

3) As long as we are being greedy, I would like a way to setup periodic, automatic e-mails of my entire spamex database, say every week or month. If you're going to build it, please make a way to send it to me without me having to come and get it every month.

4) Also, I have tried following the green, flashing links to forums on how to better use spamex several times without effect. I cannot get them to load. Maybe that's just my computer (Microsoft XP Pro, SP 3), or perhaps my embedded linux firewall. (I love electronics!... I hate electronics!)

5) I'll write more as I remember/encounter them.

Last edited by TimW : 15 Dec 2010 at 12:26 AM. Reason: Correct typo
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Old 14 Dec 2010, 12:01 AM   #56
Gio
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Thumbs up

Thank you TimW, for your contributions and guiding questions. Nice example of community spirit.
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Old 15 Dec 2010, 01:41 AM   #57
TimW
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I loved & truely miss Emailias's "Retire" & other features

Here is more laundry list of Emailias feature I miss & wish Spamex &/or e4ward would implement.

I'll number them as a continuation of my earlier (11 Dec) post:

6) Retiring: I loved this feature. It worked like this:

When I started getting spam on an Emailias DEA, I would "Retire" it by replacing it with a different address. Emailias would then do 3 things for me:

1st they would stop forwarding any email to me from the former, compromised, address and would only forward things from the new address.

2nd, whenever anyone (real person or spammer) sent anything to that address, they would get a bounced email back to their inbox with a message such as

"This email address has been permenantly retired, probably due to spam. The party can be reached by clicking on this link."

Then there would be a session link for the person to click on which would take them to an intenet browser screen to verify themselves by entering the email address where they had received the link (i.e. their own address). Then they had to enter a CAPCHA code (a graphically altered letter/number code that a real person could read but a computer couldn't) &... VOILA... my replacement email address!!! Generally, real people respond to their email replys... spammers (with thousands or millions of bounced emails a day) generally don't.

3rd, these "retired" (vs deleated) addresses were structured in the form of a "retirement chain" so that no matter how many times I retired a given email address and it's replacement and it's replacement and it's replacement..., any REAL person who entered any of them would get my current email address for that chain!!

This feature REALLY helped me several times.

Now, how effective was it at stopping spammers?

1) For 90%+ it worked perfectly. I used it around 10 times (for specific DEAs) in the 4ish years I had Emailias. It worked GREAT!

2) For one of the several feedback email address off of my website a spammer followed the links and, each day, sent me spam on the replacement email address. After 4-5 times of this, I discontinued that particular feedback link. I suppose I could have reinstated the link on my website in a month or two, but I did not.
As I think back on this, I suppose the spammer could have just gone to that particular feature on my site everyday and sent from there without looking up the replacement address via Emailias at all. Just discontinuing the feedback feature altogether may have been what stopped them. In this case, the fact that I could install 5+ feedback links on my site (& had) because of DEAs saved me.

Anyway, I REALLY miss this "Retire" feature because it allowed real people to find me, even if I had retired their version of my email address - even several layers deep - while at the same time stopping virtually all spammers.

7) Ability to turn off forwarding for a DEA without bouncing the message. Emailias distinguished between 3 operational levels:

"ON" => normal forwarding email addrss,

"Off" => Valid, but not forwarding DEA. The email went off into the "Bit Bucket" and the sender would think you got it but you didn't have to read it. So, they would not stop sending you things and discontinue your account or send you snail mail saying your email address was no longer valid, etc.
This was very useful for merchants who sent regular promotional emails that I only periodically wanted to receive. For example Payless Shoe's "Buy One, Get One Half Off" 2x/yr sale. If I were looking for shoes for my children, I would turn my Payless Emailias "On", otherwise I kept it "Off". This would also be very useful for periodic or intermittant interest in an RSS or newsletter feed.

"DELETED" => This was permanently & irretrievably off & generated a bounced email message.


I'll write more as I remember/encounter them.[/quote]

Thanks for reading,

TimW

PS. Note on "2)" in my Dec 11th post: "...at least the ability to hide an unused disposable e-mail address."
I finally found this one, also in the "ListAddresses/View/{on/off}" feature. If I turn off the Spamex's that I don't want to see (and yes, I suspect they do bounce vs. just not forwarding), I don't see them in the {on} list.
This brings up the note on item "1)" regarding context sensitive help or at least an updated, customer responsive, FAQ. Emailias (read that "Paul") just included the help and item descriptions at the bottom of each input screen.
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Old 15 Dec 2010, 02:07 AM   #58
Spamex
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimW View Post
<SNIP>

2) File management-like tools. Not only the folders capability as has been discussed in this thread, but also ability to delete a disposable address. Or, since your business model relies on how many e-mail addresses I have historically created, at least the ability to hide an unused disposable e-mail address.
You can delete DEAs in Spamex. The delete option is only available after the DEA has been disabled. Note that a deleted DEA is has all references to the user's account removed so it cannot be recovered later, so we recommend disableing, not deleting. Also work noteing that the account limit is based on 'active' DEAs not 'total' DEAs.
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Old 15 Dec 2010, 02:15 AM   #59
Spamex
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimW View Post

6) Retiring: I loved this feature. It worked like this:

When I started getting spam on an Emailias DEA, I would "Retire" it by replacing it with a different address. Emailias would then do 3 things for me:

1st they would stop forwarding any email to me from the former, compromised, address and would only forward things from the new address.

2nd, whenever anyone (real person or spammer) sent anything to that address, they would get a bounced email back to their inbox with a message such as

"This email address has been permenantly retired, probably due to spam. The party can be reached by clicking on this link."

7) Ability to turn off forwarding for a DEA without bouncing the message. Emailias distinguished between 3 operational levels:

"ON" => normal forwarding email addrss,

"Off" => Valid, but not forwarding DEA. The email went off into the "Bit Bucket" and the sender would think you got it but you didn't have to read it. So, they would not stop sending you things and discontinue your account or send you snail mail saying your email address was no longer valid, etc.
This was very useful for merchants who sent regular promotional emails that I only periodically wanted to receive. For example Payless Shoe's "Buy One, Get One Half Off" 2x/yr sale. If I were looking for shoes for my children, I would turn my Payless Emailias "On", otherwise I kept it "Off". This would also be very useful for periodic or intermittant interest in an RSS or newsletter feed.

"DELETED" => This was permanently & irretrievably off & generated a bounced email message.
The problem with bouncing messages sent to 'retired' DEAs is the creation of blowback, which is mail sent to forged senders and considering that most Spam has forged senders, the ratio of blowback created for the occasional real sender it not good. Additionally, this feature would require that we 'accept' messages for retired DEAs so that we could send a response, which incurs resources and bandwith. Bit bucketing incoming mail presents the same resource issue.

When Spamex received a message to a deleted or disabled DEA, we do not bounce. We issue a 'recipient unknown' and do not accept the message at all.

If DEAs are used in such as way as to create a one to one relationship between the DEA and the party to whom it was issued, then disabling a DEA should only require the notification of a single party. It sounds like you are issuing the DEA to multiple parties, which defeats the purpose to some extent as you lose the ability to determine who compromised the DEA.
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Old 15 Dec 2010, 10:22 PM   #60
aleinss
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Sounds like you found a great service TimW!

In terms of the root e-mail address: within the webmail client, if you go under Options-> Personal Information, you can create whatever identities you want with whatever e-mail address you want. When I e-mailed myself with my public facing e-mail address, I could not find my real address anywhere in the header.

From the Outlook side: Tuffmail doesn't check to see if the From: field is valid, so you should be able to use whatever you want. I have not tested whether it embeds it in the header information though.
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