Electric Embers: Handcrafted hosting, powering the fires of change

Mail Users

Setup

You should generally use IMAP to connect to your email accounts; if you’re looking to use POP instead, please read tutorial for a comparison of the two.

Use these Mail settings for all email apps:

Incoming (IMAP or POP):

  • Server Name: mail.electricembers.net
  • Username: (your full email address)
  • Password: (your email password)
  • Encrypt Connection: YES (TLS or SSL)
  • IMAP Server Port: 143 (STARTTLS) or 993 (TLS/SSL)
  • or POP Server Port: 110 (STARTTLS) or 995 (TLS/SSL)

Outgoing (SMTP):

  • Server Name: mail.electricembers.net
  • Username & Password: (same as incoming connection)
  • Encrypt Connection: YES (TLS or SSL)
  • SMTP Server Port: 587 (STARTTLS) or 465 (TLS/SSL)

Step-by-step instructions:

Additional Notes:

  1. You may need to select something like “My outgoing server requires authentication” before you can give it your username and password in outgoing settings.
  2. Do not enable “Secure Password Authentication”.
  3. If there is a choice for “Authentication Type”, choose “Password” or “Normal”.
  4. The terms “SSL” and “TLS” have developed multiple confusing meanings, and usage varies between writers and programmers (read more). The usage above matches that of Mozilla Thunderbird, but whatever your software calls it, you just need to use some version of SSL/TLS/STARTTLS, with one of the ports given here – encryption is required on all connections.
Webmail

You can access Webmail at https://mail.electricembers.net/rc.

Signature

You can create a signature for all outgoing messages sent from Webmail. Go to Settings, then Identities.

Vacation autoresponder

Log in to Webmail and click Settings –> Out of Office. Enter the subject and body you want. You can set dates that this message will be active, then set the Status to On and click Save.

Note that the autoresponder will only reply to each sender once per week, unless you go to the Advanced Settings tab and lower the Reply interval.

Forwarding mail elsewhere

If forwarding mail permanently (but only if your final destination address is not at Google), your postmaster should set up your address as an alias, rather than a real mailbox.

If you’re forwarding to a Google address, and you want to be able to use Google to also send mail from your EE-hosted address, then you cannot use a simple alias on the EE side – it must be a full mailbox. This restriction is imposed by Google, who require you to actually send such messages out through our SMTP server rather than theirs, which needs an actual mailbox here. See GMail setup for full instructions.

Another way to forward mail, especially if only temporary, is by setting up a server side filter via webmail. Click Settings –> Filters and then click the + button to add a filter (not a filter set.) Name your rule and continue down the form, choosing to act on all messages executing the action: Redirect message to and then enter the destination email address. Click Save.

Setting up other server-side filters

These filters happen on the server side, so no matter what device you use to check your email, the filtering will have already happened upon reception. Filters can be created to do things like automatically sort messages into appropriate folders, based on things like Subject, Sender, or Recipient. Click Settings –> Filters and then click the + button to add a filter (not a filter set.) Name it and continue down the form, building your filter to work however you chose. Click Save.

Changing mailbox password

You can change your email password by logging into Webmail and clicking Settings –> Password. Enter your current password and your new password (twice), and click Save.

If you have forgotten your mailbox password, mail administrators (including MailBox bundled users with Electric Embers Web service!) can login to the Mail Admin page as postmaster@your-domain.org to reset mailbox passwords to something known. (Click “I forgot my password” if you have never logged in there, enter postmaster@your-domain.org and click “Send me the code.” A special link will be emailed From: postmaster@electricembers.coop to our admin contact of record to get in and set that postmaster password.)

Automatic filtering of spam/viruses

Electric Embers identifies spam by inserting [SPAM] into the subject line. These messages are then automatically filtered into the Spam folder. Messages in the Spam folder get automatically purged after 14 days.

Limits on emailing many recipients and/or large files

While email can be used to exchange files, it is in fact designed for relatively small messages, and larger ones can cause problems. Similarly, email can be used to communicate directly with large numbers of recipients (To:, Cc:, or Bcc:), but problems arise when a message has too many recipients. Here are some limits you’ll need to observe:

  • Maximum message size:  25MB
  • Maximum number of recipients on any given message:  250
  • Maximum recipients per day: 5000 
  • Maximum recipients per 15 minutes: 250

Those last two are to protect against spammers using your mailbox to send their junk if they are able to crack a weak password and gain access!

If you’re beyond these limits, please use these alternatives:

Sending to large numbers of recipients

You can send to groups of recipients using your normal email program by adding them to the CC or BCC fields, but many email providers will tend to think that messages with more than 25 recipients are likely to be spam. We encourage you to use our Groups service for sending to larger numbers of recipients. A real email list service like Groups makes it much more manageable to maintain your list of recipients. Another benefit of using Groups is that it allows people to unsubscribe themselves if they want.

Note that using a list server (like Groups) doesn’t eliminate the problems with sending large files, in fact it becomes even more inappropriate to send large attachments to a group. If you need to do that, see the recommendations below for uploading your file to the “shared documents” area of Groups, your website, or a file sharing service, and then simply emailing a link to that URL. This is a much more efficient way to distribute files to all your recipients.

Sending large files

Email was originally designed for exchanging tiny text-only messages. It has since been extended to accommodate HTML formatted messages as well as attachments, but it still suffers from some important limitations: transmitting email involves sending each message through many servers, and it requires encoding all binary attachments (ie. almost all data files) as ASCII text, which can greatly increase their size. This makes email a very inefficient way to distribute larger files.

While it may be okay to email a file to a single person who you know is interested in receiving it, it’s not really appropriate to attach a file larger than 10MB or 20MB to an email message. When sending to a list, it is even more inappropriate to create very large messages. Remember how much of email is handled on mobile devices now!

Luckily there are many more efficient ways of sending large files. If you’re sending them within an office, you may be able to use local file sharing. If you’re sending them to someone out on the Internet, you can upload the file to your website, and send an email with just the URL, or you might choose a free service like SendSpace or Dropbox. If you’re sending large files to a list hosted on our Groups service, you can use the “Shared documents” feature that comes with every group — just look for it in the group’s menu.


Frequently Asked Questions:

I lost my password. How can I retrieve it?

The admin contact on your Electric Embers account can login to the Mail Admin page as postmaster@your-domain.org and reset any mailbox password in your domain. This includes MailBox(bundled) users of Electric Embers Web service!

Which email apps can I use?

Any modern email app should work with Electric Embers Mail service. We recommend the free, open source, and capable Thunderbird (from the makers of the Firefox Web browser) on desktop computers and laptops. You can also use Apple Mail included with Mac OS, or the Mail app that comes with Android. And of course we offer webmail!

Whatever app you use, it must be currently supported and updated to conform to evolving Internet standards and provide security and the most modern encryption. Older, outdated email apps will not be able to connect, including Eudora, Microsoft Outlook Express, or Microsoft Outlook 2010 or any older version of Outlook because they do not have strong enough encryption.

Why are messages to known-good addresses bouncing back from Google as being 'suspicious'?

Check your message contents for links pointing to any URL shortener services like bit.ly or tinyurl.com. These services are increasingly abused by spammers and malware to hide their web link targets, so we are seeing lately that any email containing such a link is bounced back by Google with a message about it being “suspicious due to the nature of the content and/or the links within“. And Google provides the domain email service for many orgs these days, so it’s not just @gmail.com addresses that are affected.

This means that if you want to get your email to your recipients’ inboxes, you should refrain from using any of those URL shorteners in any email you send. Just use the full direct URL instead.

Why am I receiving bounces to messages (maybe spams) I didn't send?

An interesting quirk of Internet email is that it’s possible to send a message “From:” any email address imaginable. When email was invented in the early 1980s, there were few concerns about the security and authenticity of email messages, and that legacy is with us to this day. Spammers often send their junk mail “From:” addresses in other people’s domains to confuse the recipients and hide their true source from anti-spam systems. And spammers have a habit of carelessly sending their junk messages to thousands of email addresses at a time, many of which may be old or otherwise invalid. Messages to these invalid addresses bounce back to the “sender”, which means if the spammer has chosen to send “From:” your address, they come to you. Because of how these messages arise, this type of junk mail is called “spam backscatter”.

So first off, don’t worry that your email account or domain name is compromised or stolen or hacked. Spammers can use your email address quite easily without hacking your account. Since spammers tend to rotate through many different From: domains, spam backscatter tends to explode one day and then disappear for months, so the worst is probably over. But it’s still irritating to receive all this junk.

You may wonder, “Can’t something be done about this?” In fact, something is being done: new enhancements to the Internet’s mail protocols (SPF, DKIM, and DMARC) are being finalized and adopted, and will begin to curtail the spoofing of “From:” addresses, which would take care of most of the problem. But it will be a while before wide adoption of the new standards takes place, and all we can do until then is wait.

Too much spam is coming through -- what can you do?

We can’t control how much spam is sent to you, but your Mail account includes our Shield service, which blocks and filters as much of it as possible to make sure that very little actually reaches you. For every 1000 incoming spams, we estimate that 900 are blocked, 76 deleted, and 23 tagged, leaving 1 message which might end up in your inbox. When it starts to seem like your spam volume has gone up, there are several things we can do. In a particularly bad storm of spam, we may need to inspect specific messages or help block mail from specific email systems. But the best way to deal with a gradual increase is for you to help train Shield to recognize your spam. Please see the reporting instructions below.

How do I report missed spams, or real mail tagged incorrectly as spam?

These are two different cases.

  1. Missed (untagged) spam: Our filtering system is very good, but it does sometimes make mistakes: around 1% of spam/malware may slip through untagged. We accept this level of false negatives in order to avoid the risk of false positives. But if you receive something unwanted that wasn’t tagged, you can report it as spam, to make Shield work better for everyone. If you use Webmail you can simply click “Mark as Junk.” From other mail apps, forward it as an attachment to report-spam (at) electricembers (dot) coop.
  2. Legitimate mail wrongly tagged as spam: In the less common case of false positives, we always want to know about it so we can tune our filtering to eliminate these instances going forward; we aim to have ZERO legitimate messages marked as spam. If you use Webmail you can simply click “Mark as Not Junk.” Otherwise forward it as an attachment to: report-ham (at) electricembers (dot) coop.
Do you make regular backups of my data? How do I recover lost data?

To protect your data, we make backup copies of all user data every night. The backups are stored both on a separate server in our main data center in San Francisco and on a remote server in Sacramento, CA. We can recover data from any of the following points in time:

  • the last 6 nights
  • the last 6 weeks
  • the last 6 months

Please let us know immediately if you discover a need for restoring any data from backups.