back to article DNS cockup locks Virgin Media customers out of ntlworld.com email

Virgin Media customers who retained their old @ntlworld.com email addresses are currently blocked from accessing their accounts after the cable company appeared to have made an embarrassing DNS blunder. Legacy NTL account names have apparently been spitting out DNS errors when messages were sent to those email addresses since …

  1. Graham Hawkins
    FAIL

    Noticed it at 6am this morning. Tried the helpline when I got to work - gave up after 20 mins of canned music. Webmail still broken 7 hours later....

  2. Blane Bramble
    Stop

    dig ntlworld.com mx

    That'll tell you all you need to know. Should take 30s to fix (plus DNS propagation time).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: dig ntlworld.com mx

      Unless its been de-listed from DNS because they've shut the server down.....

      1. Blane Bramble

        Re: dig ntlworld.com mx

        True, but it would be a matter of minutes to set up a backup (store and forward) mail server to spool the email in the meantime, whilst rebuilding whatever needed doing for the pop/imap cluster - and it would prevent any further loss of email. Presuming that Virgin Media already have secondary, tertiary MX servers, it *should* just be a matter of a dummy primary MX record and then adding the secondary record, leaving it to spool until the primary MX is ready and running. But what do I know?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: dig ntlworld.com mx

          "whilst rebuilding whatever needed doing for the pop/imap cluster"

          It's worth bearing in mind that VM outsourced email to Google Gmail some time ago.

          1. Phil W

            Re: dig ntlworld.com mx

            It's not as simple as someone cocking up a record from what I can tell.

            Looked into it briefly this morning after a user couldn't email an ntlworld.com address, and discovered differing results from nslookups against various servers.

            Some came back with a whole list of name servers and nothing else, some insisted the domain didn't exist. Having checked again now one of the DNS servers that claimed it didn't exist this morning looks to have a proper record with the correct MXs.

            Perhaps a registration expiry/renewal cock up?

            1. Steven Raith

              Re: dig ntlworld.com mx

              Interestingly, and on a seperate and most likely totally unrelated note, Critical Path/Openwave are having issues with their rDNS lookups not passing through some Cisco ISA devices due to buggy firmware, and Critical Path/Openwave run BT Internets mail servers.

              Basically, if BTs filtering system does an rDNS lookup request of 4.3.2.1.IN-ADDR.ARPA, it fails.

              If you do 4.3.2.1.in-addr.arpa it passes. But BTs system can't do it in anything other than uppercase.

              I'm fully aware this is likely completely unrelated, but I thought some people might appreciate that if they run a mail server/DNS behind a Cisco ISA (or their network provider does) and find odd behaviour. In the case I was working on, the upstream DNS provider (Who provided the rDNS lookup thingies - look, I said I wasn't that hot at internet level DNS ;-) ) claimed to have just bounced the nameserver (one of two was causing an issue) which fixed it, but I suspect that bug may have been part of it.

              Contact CriticalPath/Openwave directly on their support email addy if required, BT postmaster doesn't do a damned thing (still not had a response three weeks on)

              Just a semi-related (from a loose tech perspective) tidbit for you kids.

              Hugs and kisses

              Raith

      2. Stuart 22 Silver badge

        Re: dig ntlworld.com mx

        "Unless its been de-listed from DNS because they've shut the server down....."

        Something like that - accidental or deliberate. It only takes seconds to put the MX record back - to direct it elsewhere (surely they have a receive/store/forward reserve server for when the mail system goes tits-up - a not unknown risk at VM).

        Indeed taking hours to not getting a workaround in place suggests the Virgin problem is managerial rather than technical.

        1. hplasm
          Facepalm

          Re: dig ntlworld.com mx

          " the Virgin problem is managerial rather than technical."

          Sounds like another round of Technical Redundancies.

    2. Steven Raith

      Re: dig ntlworld.com mx

      It can't really be as simple as someone cocking up a DNS update and leaving the damned things blank, can it?

      (I'm not that au-fait with Dig, but I know when I do that with my own MX, there's, you know, an ANSWER entry there. Where there isn't here)

      Steven R

  3. Angela Taylor

    been watching on the VirginMedia forum - latest estimate of a fix is 8.30pm

    not holding my breath

    1. Blane Bramble

      @Angela Taylor

      and in the meantime they are losing email...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Angela Taylor

        and in the meantime they are losing email...

        Have a look at the email chapter of Hacker Highschool. Email is rarely lost through a domain name failure - a problem with the lookup of MX records (i.e. which server serves the recipient's domain) will return an "undeliverable" failure message to the sender.

        1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

          Re: @Angela Taylor

          Rarely?

          So if an email server tries to send an email, and there's no MX record the email still gets sent? News to me. And the list-server doesn't drop the email address from the list because the email address doesn't exist?

          There is a possibility that a human will see a message that an email wasn't drlivered, and they might try a 2nd time (and it will probably fail again, and they'll probably give up). However any invoicing/ordering etc. system will just fail to deliver the email.

          Afaiac the email will normally be lost.

          1. Phil W

            Re: @Angela Taylor

            "So if an email server tries to send an email, and there's no MX record the email still gets sent?"

            Potentially yes. There is a section of the RFC for smtp/email which refers to "fallback to A" meaning that if there is no MX record but there is a DNS entry for the domain with an A record then the A record address should be treated as a mail server and attempt to send the message to it. That of course may not work but in some cases it can, admittedly it wouldn't of helped in this case.

            It is my understanding though that not all email systems implement the "fallback to A" process, be that by design or oversight.

  4. Kraggy
    FAIL

    This means mail has been lost

    Notice the 'permanent error' nature of the response a sending SMTP server will have been getting, these e-mails are more likely than not lost permanently and there is no record on VM's system, of their ever having been sent.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This means mail has been lost

      One word: Google mail.

      1. Chika

        Re: This means mail has been lost

        That's two words.

        And I have little trust in the first one.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This means mail has been lost

        One word: Google mail

        Sigh - you poor naïve end user. Domain "ntlworld.com" actually routes to Gmail:

        ;; QUESTION SECTION:

        ;ntlworld.com. IN MX

        ;; ANSWER SECTION:

        ntlworld.com. 26 IN MX 5 alt2.aspmx.l.google.com.

        ntlworld.com. 26 IN MX 10 aspmx2.googlemail.com.

        ntlworld.com. 26 IN MX 10 aspmx3.googlemail.com.

        ntlworld.com. 26 IN MX 1 aspmx.l.google.com.

        ntlworld.com. 26 IN MX 5 alt1.aspmx.l.google.com.

        Just in case you didn't know, all your email is shipped abroad. It may be worth checking your contract to see if they actually asked your permission for that...

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: This means mail has been lost

          "Just in case you didn't know, all your email is shipped abroad. It may be worth checking your contract to see if they actually asked your permission for that..."

          Is it? IIRC, when the VM techs used run the usenet support groups, they said the google mail servers would be in house in answer to those very concerns. Whether that was (or still is) true is another matter.

          Edit: Having said that, a geolocate on 74.125.130.2 puts it in Palo Alto or thereabouts.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: This means mail has been lost

            Is it? IIRC, when the VM techs used run the usenet support groups, they said the google mail servers would be in house in answer to those very concerns. Whether that was (or still is) true is another matter

            As these servers are the same as used for Gmail, I would call BS on that statement - it would also be the first time ever that Google allows servers which are inside their domain to be housed outside, and VM isn't a big enough player for Google to bother, so I'd call double BS. Besides, it matters little - the servers geo locate as US based, which is what matters. Who hosts them is less revelant.

    2. Steven Raith

      Re: This means mail has been lost

      Apart from the senders 'sent items' folder.

      1. Blane Bramble

        Re: This means mail has been lost

        @Steven Raith - assuming the sender is a person, and it's not an automatic email from somewhere.

        1. Steven Raith

          Re: This means mail has been lost

          Good point Blane - good point.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This means mail has been lost

      As sender you'll get a failure report. If it's an automated system you should have (a) never used a generic email address and (b) find a system which can use a backup email..

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still borked

    Just tried it, still borked. Logged in and got a page saying my login was successful. Click here... Did that and oops! this part of the site isn't working. About time they got it sorted.

    Now that VM is owned by an American company maybe they are tweaking their network so all the VM traffic goes to the states and back and NSA can have a good sniff. And, being an American company the NSA etc can just ask for any data they want from Liberty Global. Just a thought. I wonder if this contravenes the Data Protection Act somehow...

    Now that someone has mentioned them, I think that VMs email is hosted on googlemail servers...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Liberty Global? Follow the money instead

      Cynical viewpoint:

      Anyone daring to cancel will be introduced to their mates Intrum Justitia.

      Look them up and see what's likely to happen.

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Still borked

      Virgin Media has always been an American company, as was NTL before that.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just got this from Yahoo! webmail

    Sorry, we were unable to deliver your message to the following address.

    <myaddress@ntlworld.com>:

    No MX or A records for ntlworld.com

    1. caffn8me

      deleted - typo

  7. Graham Hawkins

    It's back...

    ...at least webmail is.

  8. mlittlemobile

    Expired

    Looks like the domain registration has expired... does no one check their email?

    1. Stuart 22 Silver badge

      Re: Expired

      It may feel like 23/09 but the outage didn't last that long. MX (five google servers) records are now showing. Maybe the Chocalots are the root cause? And yes your NTLWorld mail is now both fully Google and NSA approved - if you got it!

      1. mlittlemobile

        Re: Expired

        Late reply, but the status was showing "Deleted And Available Again" although the expiry date doesn't match.

  9. krakead

    Looks like it's working again now.

  10. Tom Chiverton 1

    "You'd think an ISP could do better,"

    Yes, I would, but NTL are a media company, no wonder they bought the 'Virgin Media' name. Bit of a hint.

  11. leaway2

    Working here! Manchester UK. Sent email to colleague also on ntlworld account.

    1. psychonaut

      Your company uses an ntlworld account?

      as title. really? i mean really???

      i can help you with that. exchange my friend, exchange.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If this were the US

    There would be a dozen class actions already winging their way to the ISP

    It is about time that Virgin were made to pay financially for their regular [redacted] ups.

    Until then this sort of thing will continue to happen.

    Perhaps Virgin Media... you might like to focus on the service you should be giving rather than the endless mailshots you send out to people who have no intention of ever in a gazillion years sign up for your [redacted]...

    Anon simply because I get enough crap from them as it is and I don't want more.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: If this were the US

      Ask your average VM customer for their email address and the odds are it will be @gmail, @hotmail, @yahoo or something similar. Most probably don't even remember reading the info which explained how to access their VM email. Come to think of it, those VM customers I know who do use ISP mail have an @blueyonder or @ntlworld address. "Early adopters" so to speak, who've been around since before the common webmail services arrived :-)

  13. Shady

    DNS cockup locks Virgin Media customers out of ntlworld.com email

    All three of them

  14. psychonaut

    use the ip address instead of the server name

    had a customer with this issue earlier - change the server name (smtp/imap/pop.ntlworld.com) to the ip below in your email client

    pop server is 62.254.26.205

    imap is 62.254.26.207

    smtp is 62.254.26.221

    1. psychonaut

      Re: use the ip address instead of the server name

      i mean, im assuming of course that they dont have dynamic ip on those boxes....surely not? really? its virgin though.....hmmm.....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: use the ip address instead of the server name

      And that's really going to work for incoming mail isn't it? Well done. BAD ADVICE.

      1. psychonaut

        Re: use the ip address instead of the server name

        Look dick head obviously it wont work for incoming mail thats been non delivered. But then if you have an ntlworld account you get what you deserve. At least my advice will help you get what hasnt bounced and allow you to send. Whats your helpful advice? It worked for my customer earlier.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is why...

    ... You shouldn't use email from your ISP.

    This, and the fact it's really difficult to move ISP when it means doing so will lose you your email address. For all you @ntlworld.com email users out there, let this be a lesson to you. Get your self another email address, not tied to an ISP (Gmail, yahoo, your own domain names, whatever works best for you), start using it and wean your self off @ntlworld.com. Then, if they piss you off again, you are free to dump them if you want and move to another ISP - Until they piss you off and you move again - ad-infinitum ;-)

    1. sorry, what?
      Holmes

      Re: This is why...

      Not all @ntlworld.com account holders are dumb enough to have just the one account, you know.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is why...

        @sorry, what?

        Then what's the problem? Otherwise, if you've got a non-ISP email account, use it and stop using the free ISP lock in email account.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Webmail now accessible and working BUT no emails coming down to my commuter yet

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "no emails coming down to my commuter yet"

      Well, there's yer problem, right there :-)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    iamownallur@ntlworld.com

    Whats the big issue here? Found ntlworld.com's registration had lapsed 3 months ago and registered it for myself - £7.99 for 2 years.

    Getting a lot of email though.

  18. Chris 3

    Odd. been working all day here

    ... From what I can tell.

    I have my own domain, but mails are forwarded to my old NTLWorld mailboxes. I haven't seen any disruption today at all, I don't think.

    1. Woody39

      Re: Odd. been working all day here

      no disruption for me either, but probably because I access my NTLworld mail via the virginmedia IMAP server

  19. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Families and domestic/SoHo etc

    VM ntlworld emails are likely to be small users, not technically very aware and relying on the email that the ISP supplies. After all Email is Email to most ordinary users and all that matters is that they have a nice name to use.

    Commetards on El reg will have multiple adresses, mail servers, disposable accounts and all that stuff. But not the gen pub.

    And even many of the commentardists may still use an ISP account for family and friends email, or ordering from Amazon etc.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, domain expired.

    It's pretty obvious:

    ntlworld.com registry whois

    Updated 7 hours ago - Refresh

    Domain Name: NTLWORLD.COM

    Registrar: NETWORK SOLUTIONS, LLC.

    Whois Server: whois.networksolutions.com

    Referral URL: http://networksolutions.com

    Name Server: NS1.VIRGINMEDIA.NET

    Name Server: NS2.VIRGINMEDIA.NET

    Name Server: NS3.VIRGINMEDIA.NET

    Name Server: NS4.VIRGINMEDIA.NET

    Status: clientTransferProhibited

    Updated Date: 26-aug-2014

    Creation Date: 23-sep-1999

    Expiration Date: 23-sep-2016

    Stand by for the same to happen again in two years' time!

  21. theloon
    FAIL

    DNS is not one of Virgin's strong points

    Since they are no good at DNS perhaps they should stop fucking with it all the time.

  22. The fenman

    ntl email addresses

    When Virgin took over NTL, I was told by a very unhelpful bloke at V that I couldn't keep my NTL address unless I paid! Of course, I refused, I was already paying Virgin and this caused quite a bit of trouble while I sorted out problems with lost emails, I may still have lost some. I then had a year of misery while Virgin belly-ached about my usage and it was with immense relief that I was finally able to get rid of them and join O2 who provided me with an excellent, unlimited service for about 5 years until Sky took over - meanwhile I set up a gmail account so that I was no longer locked to broadband suppliers.

    Virgin ads on TV and elsewhere get a raspberry from me now.

  23. The Boojum
    FAIL

    Looks like they've still got problems

    I've just emailed a couple of ntlworld addresses and they got bounced back. Yet another reason never to use anything associated with Virgin!

  24. Carrick

    ntlworld hassle

    I too am having problems with ntlworld - how soon will it be sorted?

    I my case I have been able to send and receive e-mails, but the incomers are only "delivered" in the small hours of the day following the day they were sent. For example, I was unable to respond to the e-mail you sent me for the best part of 24 hours - it was timed at about 7 a.m on Sunday, and I first saw it just now, at 6.40 am Monday. Not what you want in this type of communication ( being somewhat long in the tooth - 85 on Saturday) I am not into Facebook , Iphones etc and do most of my communicating by e-mail.

    I hope they get it sorted soon - is there anyone out there with the skills to chase them, or publicise the problem in the press and shame them into putting things right?

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