Refused to talk to me...

17 Nov 2020

I quit. No more hosting my own email server.

It was simple and foolproof—or so I thought. Outgoing email was handled by a basic send-only mail server. Incoming mail was forwarded by the domain registrar to my home email account. Yet outgoing mail was routinely blocked by banks, lawyers, doctors, hospitals, investment firms, all the old-school institutions that need 100% comm reliability.

The last straw was when I checked the mail queue and found an undelivered email to a stock broker. The server log read: host xxx refused to talk to me. Good thing I checked the queue and logs daily—another forever task eating at my time—otherwise we would have never known the message was blocked. The response from the blocking server contained helpful information on how to get unblocked but I can’t spend several days negotiating to be removed from block lists. I need that email delivered now.

Running your own email server is interesting and informative but not terribly useful unless you want a job running email servers. Even companies with hundreds of employees use a third party mail solution because their employees have better things to do than to spend their day pleading with Yahoo and Gmail to stop blocking them.

What about privacy? Doesn’t self hosting keep your emails secret? Not really.

Email should be as reliable as the power company—you just push the button and it works. Running a mail server makes that impossible.