Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/01/19/1and1_letters/

1and1: readers stick the boot in

Email host apologises (again)

By Christopher Williams

Posted in Broadband, 19th January 2007 12:33 GMT

Letters A quick recap: This week unfortunate souls in the UK have suffered at the hands of an email snafu at hosting provider 1and1.

It's not just poor service though; everyone knows technical faults can happen. The way the firm variously failed to communicate and told porkies about the issue (like when it said on Tuesday it was sorted) had Reg readers chewing their arms off with rage.

Not before they took time to pen the following excellent screed selection though, a mere taster of the bitter bounty which was waiting for us in our gripebox this morning. Michael sums up the mood nicely and gives us a Friday morning update:

Precisely the same problem - I'll not repeat the symptoms. Out 18/1/07 twice, between 09.30 and 14.00 and after 18.00. And again this morning from 08.00

LACK OF INFORMATION compounds the frustration. There appears no Service Status report on 1and1's website that I can find, in a confusing site. And no response to an email enquiry raising both these issues, but perhaps this is held up too. Telephone enquiry is either engaged or fielded by a charming but long suffering Philippino who explains that servers are having problems but is not permitted to give any forecast as to when service might be restored. Please add above to I am sure the many similar notes.

- Michael

Very many indeed. With 1and1 not going into anymore detail than a "technical fault" recorded message, perhaps Reg readers can sleuth the source of the mess:

Hi Chris,

Firstly I'll ask to remain anonymous for now as this may involve one of my clients. I have been approached by them to take over hosting of their websites which are currently with our beloved 1&1. So I have been scratching around their 1&1 control panel prior to taking them on as clients - checking webtraffic stats etc.

I was somewhat suprised to see that beginning on the 7th Jan their traffic rocketed from an average page views/day of 50 to around 600 000. To make matters worse the "most accessed page" also happens to be a rather large PDF file!

The peak traffic was on the 8th and 17th Jan - with badwidth totalling 974,196 mb. Now I wonder is this is a DOS attack on them and a possible hit on 1&1 too? I might just add that this particular client has a long history ex-hosters and a bunch of not so savory competitors so I am almost certain that they are being targeted.

I'm just glad I spotted this before signing them up!

Warren ups the anger ante by including baroque composers in his sphere of annoyance:

Hi,

Re. your 1and1 email story - I've been suffering this incredible problem for the past 3 days and it was never fixed. When I did receive emails they were at least 2 hours delayed and this morning I find I, once again, can't connect to the mail server. And, as with most things of this nature, the most annoying thing is that you just get the canned "it will be fixed in 24 hours" at best and the some Vivaldi bollocks at worst! Sorry, Vivaldi, you didn't deserve that, but I'm just so mad I feel like beating up on some old dead guy...

Just FYI. And it's probably not worth replying to this email...

Warren

Whatever is going on in the 1and1 server bunker – answers on a postcard, please – Camden was glad to see he won't be missing out on that once in a lifetime offer to invest in a Guatemalan bauxite mining start-up before it takes off:

I'm not sure what you mean by 'takes a dive again'. It's been buggered all week. Up for five minutes, now and then - if you are lucky. The webmail interface hasn't worked at all for me, and my normal (IMAP) access is thoroughly intermittent.

Frankly, it's rubbish. And not a word from 1and1 as to what the problem is, or when it will be fixed (properly, and not some bizarre PR interpretation of the word 'fixed').

Mind you, when I do manage to get access I'm pleased to note that my usual array of spam has arrived (unlike all the emails I'm actually expecting/wanting to receive).

Time to take my domains and email elsewhere, methinks. Cheers,

Camden

Unfortunately for some, the damage is done, as Brian illustrates:

Bloody 1and1 have about dun for our business we have had the best part of a week with no email into our holiday company this has crippled our CRM system and more or less stopped us from conducting business on any level. recently their domain registration service was 'out of order' returning domain not available to any .co.uk searches forcing us to register them elsewhere and bear the extra costs.

I have emailed them relentlessly to no avail. Further to the email thing, we have spoken to people in India and been made timescale promises that have not been met. I'm looking for a new provider.....any suggestions? Regards, Brian

Our hearty sympathies. Apart from teeth grinding apoplepsy, the theme of much of the correspondence was decidedly itchy feet:

It is now Friday and the email service is still inaccessible. Don't suppose you could recommend a good hosting service? Regards,

Andy

P.S. I wouldn't bother replying to this email, you'll get a faster response with the Royal mail.

Sadly, we can't Andy. Our own email provider, who shall remain nameless, is about as reliable as Pete Doherty after three weeks in Hackney crack lounge. Over to you, readers. ®

Update

1and1's press chief Richard Stevenson responded to our request for a call this morning with the following email:

Hi Chris,

Thank you for your media enquiry.

Following an important update to our mail server software and the subsequent restart of the mail servers, there have unfortunately been delays in the delivery of incoming email to 1&1 mail boxes.

Email messages are stored safely in a queue, but are subject to delay. Whilst on Thursday morning there was no delay, as of 11am today, Friday, there is an average mail delivery delay of 2 hours. Spam mails are being delivered with a lower priority and hence remain longer in the mail queue.

Many email users waiting for delayed mails currently access their mailboxes at a high frequency. Thus, in peak times there may also be delays in connecting to Inboxes.

The SMTP service (outgoing mail) is not affected and runs without delay.

Due to planned updates of software and hardware systems, some disruptions to email delivery to Inboxes may continue throughout today, Friday 19 January.

The delay in incoming emails will decrease as full service is gradually restored and emails are delivered.

We sincerely apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused due to the queuing of emails and thank them for their co-operation and understanding while we continue to resolve these issues.

Many thanks,

Richard

So it looks like there's going to be bother for some time yet.

Update 2

Reader Alan has come up trumps with a workaround. We'll let him explain it:

Normally we just read from the POP boxes directly. However we found that if we add a second forward destination for incoming emails addresses but to a non-1and1 email address then this bypasses the queues and enables the emails to arrive very quickly. This was quite easy for us as we have an effectively private email address from our broadband ISP that is rarely used. If this is done then people must be careful not to delete the POP box because that will loose emails already in the queue. Emails already queued only come throup the POP box but after setting up the forward address new emails come via both routes.

The downside is that all emails now come through twice but to us it is much better than having delays of many hours and at times during this week - next day. The other interesting thing is this gives a very good feel of the delays as we can see when the 1and1 email finally comes through. At the moment the "pairs" are coming through pretty much together so it appears to have settled down but that also happened for a while yesterday!

Sorry for not mentioning this earlier but I have only just read your article and have been spending quite a bit of time this week deleting double spam.

Hopefully this will help some people if the problem is still there.

Alan