Terms of service

Electric Embers makes no service guarantees, but we believe our service is among the best available. Redundancy at many levels (UPS battery and generator power, cooling, network, server mirroring, RAID disk mirroring, multiple-site data backups, etc.) allows our services to run with near-perfect reliability: based on ten years of experience, we have delivered and expect at least 99.9% uptime for each service. Our servers are backed up daily and monitored around the clock (so that in the event of an outage, we are informed and can recover as quickly as possible.) Still, unforeseen events like natural disasters or denial of service and other attacks can result in service disruption. Applications that demand absolutely zero downtime (like air traffic control or life support systems) should not be hosted at Electric Embers.

In consideration for your use of Electric Embers services, you agree that you will not:

  • distribute, send, or cause to send any unsolicited bulk email using Electric Embers systems;
  • violate any local, state, national or international law, except in the context of thoughtful, nonviolent civil disobedience;
  • infringe the rights of any third party, including but not limited to intellectual property rights and privacy or publicity rights;
  • interfere with or disrupt Electric Embers services, those of our users or any other person or service, including but not limited to hacking, portscanning, banner checking or other invasive investigation of machines;
  • make excessive use of Electric Embers services, including but not limited to network bandwidth and computer system resources;
  • violate or cause Electric Embers to violate the terms of our upstream providers’ Acceptable Use Policies;
  • distribute bulk email (that is, send the same message to more than 250 recipients) using our Mail or Web services. (Our Groups service is designed to distribute bulk email so it is acceptable there.)

and you agree that you will:

  • make all reasonable efforts and implement standard practices to keep your Electric Embers account(s) secure, including maintaining strong passwords and keeping all software installed on our servers current with recent updates and patches.

All Electric Embers hosting is at-will and may be revoked at any time for violation of these agreements, for any other reason or for no reason, though this has never happened and we hope it never needs to.

All prices and service features are subject to change. If you move to another category on our sliding scale, your fees may change. Extra fees will apply to accounts that exceed the basic usage limits (see the details when you actually sign up) and may apply to accounts that make heavy or unusual use of bandwidth, server resources, or tech support.

Spam Policy

On receiving spam

Receiving spam is a terrible waste of everyone’s time. A big part of the fight against spam is identifying it accurately so it can be blocked, deleted, and diverted and thereby interfere as little as possible with legitimate email. That’s why we offer our Shield service, and build it into Mail and Groups.

On sending spam

There are several different conventional, legal, and technical definitions of “spam”, but the one we’re most interested in is the most common technical definition: spam is “unsolicited bulk email.” Our Terms of Service prohibit our clients from distributing, sending, or causing unsolicited bulk email to be sent using our systems, for two reasons:

  • Sending spam is a problem because receiving spam is a nuisance. It’s our goal to identify and destroy spam, so we certainly don’t want to be adding to the problem by generating it here.
  • Sending spam is a problem because the Internet is quite rightly not friendly to spammers; when any of our clients send spam from our systems, it can reduce the effectiveness of legitimate email going out of our systems by eroding our good reputation as a sender of legitimate mail. The exact mechanism is varied and complex, but email service providers like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and AOL carefully monitor the ratio of spam to legitimate mail (as reported by their users) received from all domains and servers on the Internet and block or divert mail from those who exceed the thresholds they set. Third parties like Spamcop, SORBS, and Spamhaus aggressively identify perceived spammers and share their databases, which are used by email providers to block or divert messages from senders with bad reputations. Reliable email delivery is a top priority for us, so anything that interferes with it gets our attention.

However, the “unsolicited bulk email” definition leaves somewhat open the precise meanings of “unsolicited” and “bulk.” The definition used by Spamhaus is a more precise one that we like, but even parts of it (especially the “bulk” bit) are still subject to interpretation. We expect our clients to use careful judgement in sending mail that could conceivably be construed by its recipients as unsolicited and/or bulk, and reserve the right to cancel the services of our clients who violate our interpretation of our Terms of Service.