Are Hotmail cutting their own throat

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Just recently I decided to do a bit of house work on my website hosting server and DNS, and one of the things I did was do some research on SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and publish an SPF policy for my domains. However, after doing this I noticed something strange in that no emails I sent to family and friends using a Hotmail account ever received them. Nothing in their inbox or even their junk email folder, and no NDR (Non Delivery Report) was ever returned to my server. The emails just disappeared without a trace.

I scanned my email server logs and found that all the email destined for Hotmail had been successfully sent and had been queued by the Hotmail email servers, so the email was definitely disappearing at the Hotmail end of the line. After having buried myself in the problem for a good week reading every Hotmail postmaster FAQ and guideline I could find, and even contacting Hotmail support several times I still had no solution to the problem. I could not send email to any Hotmail account unless it was a reply. This got me thinking; are all free email services this hard to deal with, or is there something seriously wrong with my email environment that I have somehow missed. So I did a quick search to find the top ten free email services and proceeded to register an account with all of them to see if I could send mail to them. The results were quite surprising.

My Email Environment

Before we continue, lets step back a couple of paces and take a quick look at my email setup. For any domain this is essentially broken up into two parts, your DNS and IP settings, and then your email server itself. First, let’s look at my DNS and IP settings;

DNS & IP

  • Static IP address for my email server
  • A record of mail.iis-aid.com pointing to the IP of my email server
  • PTR (reverse DNS) record of mail.iis-aid.com for my email server IP
  • MX record pointing to the mail.iis-aid.com A record with a preference of 5
  • SPF V1 policy (TXT record) that strictly specifies which servers should be sending email from my domain
  • SPF V2/PRA policy (TXT record)

Now let’s take a look at my email server;

Email Server

  • Mail server displays host name in greeting
  • Acceptance of null sender address
  • Acceptance of postmaster address
  • Acceptance of abuse address
  • Mail server is not open relay
About the only thing my email server doesn’t do is the acceptance of domain literals (x@123.123.123.123), but very few email servers do these days since virtual domains have become so popular. For a more complete run down you can see how my email environment checks out using DNS Report. Why not check your own while there. You can also check your SPF polices are valid using Open SPF and SEO Consultants, and check for open relay at Abuse.net and Aupads.org.

Comments

Anonymous's picture

microsoft/hotmail smartscreen is stupid

Without changing any settings after many years, hotmail is sending important emails to spam that would normally go to inbox. It has created so much mistrust that I have no choice but to start using another service. I think microsoft has a habit like some others do of creating oxymorons to describe their services. Let us face it, smartscreen is stupid.
One exception to oxymorons, regarding male employees and the company they work for, "Micro" "Soft"