back to article Angry 123-Reg customers in the UK wake up to another day where hosted mail doesn't get through to users on Microsoft email accounts

Users of UK web hosting firm 123-Reg’s email service told The Reg this morning that 96 hours after clocking the issue, they are still having trouble sending emails to users with Microsoft's Live, Outlook or Hotmail accounts. For its part, 123-Reg has confirmed “delays in delivering emails to Hotmail/Outlook/Live email …

  1. Gaius

    It definitely did start on Friday, not Saturday, a full day before they acknowledged it

    1. Maximum Delfango
      Thumb Up

      And... it's back.

      It's now back... 5 days later.

      Pretty crap that 123-reg just didn't spot this, did nothing at all over the weekend, ignored all tickets, and generally handled this like chickens meeting a fox, but also worrying that Microsoft can just block an entire ISP at a whim, and take its own sweet time to unblock it. Still: my fault for serving myself a double helping of fail. Lesson learned, and all that.

      Finally, thanks to those who recommended alternatives to 123-reg (including /dev/null). Very helpful, and soon the Maximus Delfango presence on the information superhighway will be pulling into a different service station with all hands on deck.

  2. MJI Silver badge

    My 123Reg hosted seems fine

    But I use Thunderbird and my own domain.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: My 123Reg hosted seems fine

      To the downvoters I mentioned this to point out that emails were working otherwise and it as not a complete email failure.

      One person realised that was why.

      1. Dabooka

        Re: My 123Reg hosted seems fine

        Nah, the down votes are for admitting to using 123-Reg.

        One person doesn't realise why.

    2. smudge

      Re: My 123Reg hosted seems fine

      But I use Thunderbird and my own domain.

      But you no doubt still use 123's mail servers. Which may well have been blacklisted by the other ISP.

  3. alain williams Silver badge

    I did not realise ...

    that anyone still used 123reg. I left them [domain tag holder] over a decade after yet another cock up.

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Recommendations please

      I'm still with 123-reg for a personal domain that I don't really use at the moment - in fact, I just renewed it as it expired this month. I was planning to move it off 123-reg aster t he renewal went through, but my plan was to move it to GoDaddy, which apparently is the same company as 123-reg now.

      Any recommendations? Don't need any hosting or email, just domain registration and DNS services.

      1. Test Man

        Re: Recommendations please

        1&1 (now IONOS)

        1. cb7 Bronze badge

          Re: Recommendations please

          Not sure I can recommend Ionos. Used them temporarily a few months back and all users email addresses seem to have been leaked and the amount of spam they receive has gone through the roof.

          When I tried to raise the issue with Ionos support twice, they cut me off straightaway.

          I've got a good mind to report them to the ICO.

      2. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

        Re: Recommendations please

        I've had my domains registered with joker.com for something approaching 20 years. They've never let me down. I had hosting with GoDaddy for a while, but they're a bit expensive for what you get. Plus, their people kept calling me to ask how it was going – while they were actually quite nice people, I'd rather they just left me alone than tried to upsell me. My hosting is now with hostinguk.net – notably cheaper, and they seem to be good so far. Perhaps more usefully, they integrate Let's Encrypt rather than trying to fleece me for a cert.

      3. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Recommendations please

        I use OVH, which will no doubt meet with disapproval from other commentards, but I've had no problems with them.

        I would suggest you have a look at the dns providers supported by certbot, acme.sh, posh-acme, and certifytheweb for letsencrypt certificates and pick one of them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Recommendations please

          "I use OVH, which will no doubt meet with disapproval from other commentards, but I've had no problems with them."

          That's the problem. I've got no idea how good OVH are, if it works for you, fine. For a long time I was happy with 123reg, it's when things go wrong that you find out how good (or otherwise) an organisation is.

          123 kept having problems, hiking prices and providing sub-standard support so I moved several years ago. It's not difficult to move a single domain but I had a large number of domain names and web hosting there, I did a few each day over several weeks but at a total cost saving of well over £1000p.a. and to providers that have (so far) provided far better service & support, if that changes I'll move again.

          To be fair to 123reg it sounds as if this most recent incident may not have been entirely their fault but in part down to the lack of consistency in how email providers operate their junk-mail filtering. I've had many experiences of over aggressive filters, the most recent being BT rejecting forwarded email. The host had started to filter mails before forwarding and BT was rejecting anything that had successfully been through the filter seemingly because of an obscure technicality in the header, all other recipient ISPs were fine. Without the filter BT was fine.

          I've been doing this stuff for 25 years and have had to move several times. The first in about 1997 when the host ground to a halt. I manged to get an explanation from a disgruntled tech support guy all their bandwidth was being consumed by a single web site loaded with porn. Management knew what the problem was but apparently regarded interfering with the setup as censorship. I spent a long weekend on a modem connection shifting a few dozen web-sites away. The usual problem is when great small providers get a substantial buy-out offer from a relative giant like GoDaddy. At that point their focus moves away from "what's best for our client base" to "what's in our own best interests". There's usually quite a long transition period when the old staff and systems are still in place, service remains good but it's time to move away before they become fully absorbed.

          I'm now on my 10th host for the majority of my sites (and experimented with 3 others). Most of the changes have been as the result of the provider being taken over so the change hasn't been my decision (and hasn't involved any/much intervention on my part). Longest was when I had hosted servers from a small local company but the rot set in and after a chain of buy-outs those ended up in the hands of HEG (as far as I understand it 123reg is now part of HEG which is now owned by GoDaddy).

          I usually keep one or two low usage accounts with other providers (having identified that they are NOT yet owned by some larger entity) so I can assess their service so next time I have to move I have a candidate.

          I no longer make recommendations because the provider may screw up, perhaps a few years later, and I will be seen to have given poor advice. A couple of years ago my preferred host was rock solid and inexpensive, more recently they hiked prices substantially, one support ticket was handled very badly, help desk has switched from competent to first-line script-followers reluctant to acknowledge when they're out of their depth and reluctant to escalate. Overall still very good, I'd not baulk at the increased price but overnight for the first time there was an outage (about an hour). Time to start looking around for alternatives again.

      4. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: Recommendations please

        I've been using https://domainname.shop/ for the last few years. They're pretty decent for what you're after.

      5. Juan Inamillion

        Re: Recommendations please

        https://www.mythic-beasts.com

        Been with them for years. Excellent support and UK based.

        1. Recluse

          Re: Recommendations please

          Yes likewise - highly recommend Mythic Beasts as well

          1. Robert Grant Silver badge

            Re: Recommendations please

            I was with BlackCat, which got bought by Mythic Beasts. Good stuff.

      6. Stumpy Silver badge

        Re: Recommendations please

        I recently moved to StablePoint from my old TSOHost account.

        It's set up by the guys that originally built up VidaHost before it got bought out by GoDaddy/TSOHost.

        Main reason I moved from TSO was because of mails to/from O365 accounts going silently missing. So far, not had any issues with StablePoint - it's all CPanel based hosting and all the infra is built up in AWS I understand.

      7. BlueAdmiral

        Re: Recommendations please

        Come on over to Fasthosts, I am a little biased ;)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Recommendations please

          fasthosts have a similar reputation to 123-reg and are owned by united internet who own 1&1.

          I've used all 3 plus ovh, tshohost, host europe and godaddy and can't recommend any of them. Generally the bigger they are the poorer the service as they can live with the churn, that's why the advertise so much.

      8. Dabooka

        Re: Recommendations please

        MythicBeast.

        Recommended to me on these very boards, never looked back

      9. vogon00

        Re: Recommendations please

        If you are looking for a UK service, Mythic Beasts are worth a look...been using them for around 5 years, and am still pleased.

        Support still seems quick and knoweladgeable, which is not to be sneezed at these days.

      10. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Recommendations please

        Just use systemd.

        (Sorry, wrong thread).

        1. vogon00

          Re: Recommendations please

          Incorrect suggestion in *any* thread! :-)

          Binary logs? Bah!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The issue is that 123Reg is failing Outlook’s reputation check, by the way. So Outlook is rejecting the mail in its spam filter.

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Go

      Maybe Microsoft needs to do this more often! If someone is using a 123Reg address to send a tonne of spam, blocking them might force 123Reg to clean up and control their systems to prevent spam being sent in the first place. If Microsoft did this for more Spam senders hosts then maybe we'd end up with a cleaner internet.

      Get Microsoft and Google together (woo thats an axis of evil, no doubt), but the power of those 2 making it a habit to block an entire email host when there services are being used to send spam would very quickly force email hosts to clean up their acts.

      One can dream...

      1. Blitheringeejit
        Holmes

        Yeah, right on, because...

        ....Outlook.com / Hotmail and Gmail.com are never ever used to send spam.

        Bottom line here is that M$ have a track-record of barring whole networks of smaller hosting companies from being able to send mail to M$-hosted addresses, because either...

        ...a server somewhere in the rival network sent a nasty message, and M$ quite rightly ban everything from that network to make sure that none of their customers receive anything nasty;

        ... or ...

        ...M$ are very happy to see smaller hosting providers crash and burn, because if they reject enough incoming mail from enough smaller providers, the customers of those providers will eventually switch to M$ hosting (or GMail) just so that they can send mail to everyone else who uses M$ hosting.

        I think it's interesting that similar stories of barred networks / hosting companies have abounded for a couple of years (https://www.theregister.com/2019/08/22/ionos_outlookcom_email_issues/), but strangely, GMail has never been affected. I guess some rivals are just too big to f*** with - but the smaller ones are easy meat.

        Meanwhile, my pidgeon loft is coming along nicely...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yeah, right on, because...

          Agree with all points.. yahoo behaves like M$ too..and while we're at it, might as well name Magic$pam extortion service.

      2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
        Stop

        If everyone else blocked outlook.com (and the myriad other Microsoft email names) then the whole email ecosystem would be a hell of a lot cleaner.

        Unfortunately punters sign up with microsoft and we have to be able to communicate with out punters :-(

  5. Giles C Bronze badge

    Sounds like one of their customers has been spamming people.

    Had this with 1and1 too much spam from their mail servers and ms will block the ip addresses.

    Until they decide to release them all you can do is plead for the block to be remove.

    Also had it when a marketing department sent a 4mb email to every customer (this was about 12 years ago so far bigger impact than now)

    1. N2 Silver badge

      ?

      Works with Thunderbird

    2. Vasten_the_Barelegged

      I had a delightful surprise a few weeks back. An email to someone on a Deutsche Telekom network bounced as having failed an RBL check, but the bounce message contained a postmaster address. Without much hope I emailed the address, on a slightly different mx to the main one, which I assume is the way they allow one to bypass the RBL, and within 10 minutes, received a reply from an actual human, who even signed her name. She promised the block would be removed immediately, and sure enough, it was. I was barely expecting any response at all, given past experience of such blocks, let alone such a quick resolution.

      Scale doesn't have to mean abysmal service response.

    3. Lee D Silver badge

      1&1 gets blacklisted about once a month - we used to use them for our Exchange as an upstream mailserver.

      It got to the point where I just added it in as a low-priority and we just sent emails from our leased line ourselves, because it happened so often.

      Eventually we moved all to GMail, which doesn't have that kind of nonsense.

      I mean, I get it, I run my own mailservers for dozens of domains for myself and for work, but if you keep up with the settings and don't spam, you don't get blacklisted. If you don't, then you will.

      A big place like 123Reg or 1&1 shouldn't be subject to that, and should have enough backups in reserve that they can just switch to another block of IPs if they are blacklisted, until they can "un-blacklist" themselves (which only really happens if you're unresponsive when you have a lot of spam).

      One of the basics of email: No unauthenticated email, and then responsively track and block user accounts who spam. If you get blacklisted it can take 24-48 hours to clear them even in the best instance, and the only way around that is to have plenty of addresses which you DO NOT USE to cycle through. Should not be difficult for someone of that size.

      You certainly shouldn't be DOWN in terms of email. Unless you're stupid and did something like put the IP's directly into your SPF record so that you can't easily move to another set of IPs (there's a reason that you can use lookups and includes in SPF!).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It got to the point where I just added it in as a low-priority and we just sent emails from our leased line ourselves, because it happened so often.

        Many years ago, I did the reverse. We were sending all our mail directly, but as anti-spam stuff started taking off, it became a pain, so I switched to just forwarding all outbound mail to our leased line providers, in this case Demon, SMTP server.

        Becomes much easier to say "not my problem" then, plus if their servers get blacklisted, you get someone to fix it for you.

      2. Blitheringeejit
        Thumb Down

        >> if you keep up with the settings and don't spam, you don't get blacklisted.

        But the point that's being made here (not for the first time) is that keeping up with MS's ever-changing settings and rules about the acceptability of email is in itself a full-time job. And when smaller hosting companies are effectively forced to pay someone to do that job, it's fair for them to ask who put MS in charge of what constitutes acceptable email. Don't we have things called RFCs, which define how this internet thingy is supposed to work?

        And if you think it only takes 24-48 hours to get Microsoft to take your IPs off the naughty step, you should look through the Reg archives for similar tales of woe. It can be weeks.

        (You might also want to note that GMail don't apparently feel the need to do any of this crap, but they run a perfectly decent email service without it. And also that I'm not defending 123-Reg in any way at all - they pissed me off mightily with their crappy customer service in about 2004 and I haven't been back since.)

  6. 759b954e-617b-408b-a2b1-f5a42c3688d4
    Facepalm

    They still exist?

    Surprising considering how many times they've been in the news over the last few years for completely failing to provide any kind of service.

    1. N2 Silver badge

      Re: They still exist?

      Outlook 360 any better?

      Outages seem to be an ever increasing issue with the big fat organisations.

  7. Pete B

    IP Blacklisted

    I noticed at least one of their sending IP addresses had been added to SORBS when I was looking to see why an email had been rejected earlier in the week.

  8. Davegoody

    These guys are true cowboys. I have posted on numerous occasions about how INCREDIBLY poor they are not at just providing a "service" - though I REALLY shouldn't call it that, but their customer support is beyond awful. When I complained (I left them after the last complete and utter f**k up), they offered me a free year's hosting. Second prize was perhaps two years hosting. I used 123-reg for a few years (they in turn acquired my original supplier and it went downhill fast). As a small photography business (mainly weddings) couldn't justify the cost of O365, so moved to ZEN internet hosted email and Web, FANTASTIC service, been rock solid, and great value (I have no affiliation to them I hasten to add).

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Last dealing I had with this particular shower was when they rang one of my web design clients (who had complained their site was not working) and told them that the user must have deleted all their websites.

      Strange then, that the FTP was entirely blank yet I was the ONLY person with any access to it - even my customer didn't have the details available to them and wouldn't have known what to do with them if they did (we're talking the days of FTP and Perl CGI), and couldn't have deleted EVERYTHING (including the cgi-bin folder? I don't think so). They paid for it, but only I had the login.

      After much yelling and screaming and fielding of my client's accusations, I got on the phone with 123Reg and they told me I must have deleted the FTP. Yeah, because I go through customer's accounts that I haven't dealt with in months, that were working fine the day before, and just randomly blank out their FTP leaving nothing behind, as a user with permissions that just didn't exist on FTP (i.e. you *can't* delete the cgi-bin folder!). I wouldn't mind but I hadn't used FTP for about a week prior to that at all.

      I demanded they provide me with logs, then, to prove what IP the login had come from because it was a serious, customer-affecting, money-taking server and a serious data intrusion if I wasn't the one to do it. They literally told me that they don't keep FTP logs. But then went very quiet.

      Miraculously a few minutes later the home folder had a cgi-bin in it again, albeit empty. I just uploaded from my latest backup and carried on and five minutes later it was all working again. I was not the only customer to be affected. I suspect they lost some storage and were keeping it quiet. Though my repeated request for those logs and any kind of access proving that *I* had done it never materialised.

      Maybe check before you start accusing random third-parties of destroying websites of their customers. Because if the client had sued, I'd have been suing for defamation too.

    2. Imhotep Silver badge

      Cowboys? I'm not familiar with that use of the word, but I assure you real cowboys have never caused a technical foul up.

      I suggest using MBA instead. Maybe not accurate either, but they make a good Go-To villain.

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        Cowboys

        Originally applied to builders and other construction tradesmen who operated without training and skill, thereby delivering shoddy results. There's no apparent record of the origin of the term, except by rather tenuous analogy with the supposed wild and irresponsible behaviour ascribed to real cowboys when they hit town at the end of a cattle drive.

  9. Ben Tasker Silver badge

    Move

    It's the only correct answer where 123-Reg are concerned - leave them.

    They're completely crap - it took them months and multiple failed attempts to figure out how to delete my account when I left them, they couldn't even get that final interaction right, let alone the actual services I'd been paying them for

    I tweeted about it 3 weeks in https://twitter.com/bentasker/status/1232363790366232578 - but it didn't really speed anything up.

    The underlying issue was they still had products linked to my account, despite nothing being visible in the control panel, and couldn't work out how to unlink it.

  10. karlkarl Silver badge

    I had quite a nice personal email system setup using opensmtpd and dovecot. Unfortunately I had to give it up because I was spending too much time masturbating Microsoft's filters.

    The DKIM and SPF stuff was easy enough to set up but alas, it was not enough because my domain was not Microsoft or google owned. Email is not really an open platform any more :/

    I notice a lot of "security" companies, really just offer little else other than a "pre-masterbated" domain for sending emails haha.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you are losing money time to invest some time working out a disaster recovery plan.

    1. lsces

      Send letters

      But even that is not as reliable these days :(

      Having had my own and client emails bounced by M$ and the like, the ONE thing that should be a legal requirement IS a bounce message, rather than simply handling the traffic as if it HAS been delivered. But then the whole internet is just built on lies?

  12. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Trollface

    "service should return to normal soon"

    Yeah, soon. As in, before the end of the year. Chill, we're doing our best.

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