Electric Embers: Handcrafted hosting, powering the fires of change

Mail Users

The following information is for all users of our Mail service, including Web hosting clients. If you are an administrator looking to manage your Mail domain, further information is available in the Mail Administrators Guide.


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. All connections must be encrypted using the Internet standard TLS for your protection.

Step-by-step instructions:

Or use these general settings for all email programs:

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)

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.

You can access Webmail from any computer at https://mail.electricembers.net/rc. This connection is always encrypted with SSL for your protection.


In the Webmail interface, you can create or edit an automatic signature on outgoing messages (those sent from Webmail) by going to Settings, then Identities. By default you will have only one identity listed, but you can add others by clicking + at the bottom of the Identities window. Click on the identity for which you wish to edit the signature, and its individual settings will appear to the right.

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.

If you have any alternate addresses also going to this mailbox (address aliases, domain aliases), and you want the vacation message to trigger for them too, you will also need to explicitly list those addresses under Advanced Settings -> My e-mail addresses. The vacation rule will trigger only on your primary address (the one you use to login to webmail) and any others listed there.

To remove the autoreply, come back and change the Status Off 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 method 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 passwords

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. Of course, you must also update your password in any other email apps you use. If you do not know your password, ask the mail administrator for your domain to reset it for you.

Automatic filtering of spam/viruses

Our Shield system identifies spam and virus messages by inserting [SPAM] or [VIRUS] into the subject line. These messages are then automatically filtered into folders named Spam and Virus on the Mail server, where you can view them via Webmail or any mail app connecting via IMAP (not POP which only sees an Inbox, no folders.) Messages in these folders, and in the trash, will be automatically purged after 14 days.

Emailing multiple 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 guidelines you’ll want to observe:

  • Message size: 5MB = good practice, 25MB = our maximum allowed
  • Number of recipients: 50 = good practice, 250 = our maximum allowed

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

Sending to large numbers of recipients

You can send to large numbers of recipients using your normal email program, but many email providers will tend to think that messages with more than 25 recipients are likely to be spam, meaning your message might not land in the recipient’ inbox, but in their junk folder! We encourage you to use our Groups service for sending to many recipients. Most importantly, it is designed to deliver to many hundreds or thousands of subscribers as efficiently and effectively as possible, because we take special care to preserve its good standing with other ISPs to which it makes deliveries. Another benefit is allowing people to subscribe and unsubscribe themselves using automated tools that don’t require your intervention.

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 accomodate 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 to an email message. When sending to a list, it is even more inappropriate to create very large messages. Even if you can get large attachments sent, your recipients may not be able to receive them.

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.

Using secure connections (SSL/TLS) for email

We require the use of encrypted connections to our Mail service. This ensures that no one can eavesdrop on your private email traffic, including your password as it goes to the server, as well as your email messages as you receive and/or send them via the server. (Encryption is used in the same way to secure https:// Web sites where sensitive data like credit card details are going between you and a server.) Note that SSL/TLS encrypts the traffic between your email client and server, but this is not the same thing as sending encrypted email messages to your recipients, which would prevent anyone else accessing the delivered message from being able to read it. This practice requires the use of message encryption/decryption software such as GPG with your email client (and your recipients.) Refer to your software’s documentation or the GPG docs for information on setting up encrypted email messages

Frequently Asked Questions:

I lost my password. How can I retrieve it?

Contact your organization’s email administrator.

Which email program can I use?

Any modern IMAP (or POP) email app should work with our service. We recommend the free, open source, and capable Thunderbird (from the makers of the Firefox Web browser.) You can also use Apple Mail on Mac OS.

Whatever software you use, it must be currently supported and updated to conform to evolving Internet standards and provide security against current threats. Older, outdated email apps will not be able to connect to our service, including Eudora (last updated in 2006), Microsoft Outlook Express, or Microsoft Outlook 2010 or any older version of Outlook.

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.

How do I export messages/folders from Webmail?

There is no feature to export message data from Webmail, partly because there is no clear standard format that would be useful to export into. If you are looking to archive data, either just to free up space in your account or to save permanently after closing your account, what you would need to do is to set up a local email client program on your computer to access your account via the IMAP protocol, after which you can simply drag and drop all the data you want to Local Folders on your hard drive. You would then have that data accessible in that email program on your computer until you delete it, even after the original server account is closed down.

So in general, the steps would be:

  1. Choose and install an email client program (if it’s not already installed by default).
  2. Configure your IMAP connection as instructed above.
  3. Once you can see all your server messages and folders in the email program, drag and drop all the ones you want to keep into Local Folders on your machine – the details of how to do so will depend on the program you’ve selected. It may also have a built-in Archive function that you can use here.
  4. Once all data is copied to your machine, you could delete the IMAP account configuration if you wish, and the email account on the server can even be closed down entirely, and all your data will remain accessible in your local email program.
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/viruses or real mail tagged incorrectly as spam/virus?

These are two different cases.

  1. Missed (untagged) spam or virus 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.” Otherwise forward it as an attachment to the following address:
    • Missed spam: Forward as attachment to: report-spam (at) electricembers (dot) coop
    • Missed virus: Forward as attachment to: help (at) electricembers (dot) coop
  2. Legitimate mail wrongly tagged as spam or virus 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 or virus. If a message is tagged as a virus, it will have a Shield attachment that describes the reason and gives instructions for notifying us and retrieving the original message from quarantine. If a message is falsely tagged 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.

To forward as an attachment in most popular email clients, see these instructions. However, for MS Outlook, instead of their back-door technique we recommend this procedure:

Forward as an attachment in Outlook

  1. Select Tools | Options… from the menu.
  2. Under the Preferences tab, click E-mail Options….
  3. Make sure “Attach original message” is selected under “When forwarding a message.”
  4. Click OK, then OK again, and forward the message as usual.
Do you make regular backups of my data? How do I recover lost data?

To protect your data from catastrophic events, and to some extent from human error on your side or ours, we back up all user data (files and databases) 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 four nights
  • one, two, three weeks ago
  • one, two, three months ago

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

How do I view a message's full SMTP headers?

If you are unsure of how to get the Full Header information in your email messages, check the “Help” section of your email client. For your convenience, here are instructions for viewing the Full Header information of an email message in several of the most common email clients:


  1. Click the message to view it.
  2. Click on the down arrow at the upper right corner of the message (next to “Reply”).
  3. Select “Show original”.

Apple Mac Mail:

  1. Open the message in your inbox.
  2. Go to the “View” menu, select “Message”, then click on “Show All Headers”.
  3. The header information will now be visible.

Microsoft Outlook:

  1. Open the message in your inbox.
  2. Click on “View”.
  3. Go to “Options”. The header information will be in the “Internet Headers” window.

Microsoft Outlook Express:

  1. Open the message in your inbox.
  2. Go to the “File” menu, then click on “Properties”.
  3. Go to the “Details” tab. The header information will be in the “Details” window.


  1. Open the message in your inbox.
  2. Go to the “View” menu, click on “Headers”, and select the “All” option.


  1. Log into your Hotmail account.
  2. Click on “Options” at top of screen.
  3. Then click “Preferences (at far right, under “Additional Options”).
  4. Go to “Message Headers” under “Other Hotmail Options”.
  5. Click on the “Full” button, then scroll down and click “okay”. All messages will now display full header information directly below the “basic” header information (right below the date).


  1. Log into your AOL account.
  2. Open the message in your inbox.
  3. At the very end of the message, the full header information will be displayed below the line labeled “Headers”.


  1. Click the message to view it.
  2. Click the “More” button above the message.
  3. Click “View Full Header.”