I am having serious problems when someone wants to contact me from my website. I have discovered that the cause is due to the forwarder use by my domain name host.
My domain host forwards all emails to a Gmail address. Therefore when someone clicks on my email address on my website to send an email, it is sent through my domain host to Gmail. That must be fairly standard.
I have finally discovered that this is a common problem, and that I am not alone. The cause apparently is the Gmail SPF record “v=spf1 redirect=_spf.google.com”. Apparently it overrides the SPF record of my domain host, and I now find well respected contacts - even a firm of solicitors - blocked for no obvious reason by Gmail. Headers contain “mydomain does not designate i.p address as permitted sender”.
I have done a lot of research, and it appears that, although there are work-arounds, they are not a long-term fix, because they have to be regularly changed ! I have learnt that this is common with all the major webmail services like Google, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail and Outlook, because they are the natural targets for spam. Basically, the recommendation is not to use any of the main players for email, which sounds drastic, but I can understand the logic - spammers will concentrate on the big boys and always find ways to get through, so it becomes a vicious circle.
So can anyone recommend an alternative basic webmail service other than the big boys ? For ten years, I only ever used the email service provided by my ISP, but that gradually became overloaded, unsupported and inaccessible at peak times, so I was forced to find an alternative. Gmail was good until this SPF problem started.
I would be most grateful if anyone has any suggestions for an alternative webmail service ?
Are you sure that this is a problem with Gmail, not with your contact form?
Some basic contact forms use the email address being filled in the form as the FROM address in the generated mail. This is a bad idea and will not work.
Suppose someone entered email@example.com as address. You send this from your website to a Gmail account. Gmail then receives that email and see that it was sent on behalf of firstname.lastname@example.org. It then checks whether the sending server (your email server) is authorized to send email on behalf on your domain. If not, then the email may be “spoofed” or falsified.
Any good email service will reject that message. You may find some crappy service which doesn’t, but then you’re just exposing yourself to fake email and spam.
Instead, you should not use the entered email address as FROM address. Only use a FROM address on your own domain (it doesn’t need to have a matching email account, only what’s after the @ matters), and put the entered address in the Reply-To field. That way, you can still hit Reply in your email client to write a response, but without having to impersonate random email addresses to receive it.
Thanks for that suggestion, but I am afraid it is definitely not the case unfortunately. There is no contact form, just a simple email address on the heading with the logo. So anyone who wants to contact me simply copies the address and enters it into their own email system. I was advised once before not to use contact forms and not even to use a hyperlink with the email address as bots can hijack it. So my email address is just text with no hyperlink or autofill. I also get the same problem with contacts who have not seen the website who do not get through sometimes due to the same “not permitted sender”.
The only thing I can think of is to completely re-do your email.
I would recommend creating a Yandex account and adding your domain (you will need to set up MX and CNAME records). From there, you can change your language to English (it surprisingly took me over an hour to figure out there is an “english” setting and that Google translate is not necessary for everything) and manage email accounts in the Admin dashboard. Once you get the account set up, you can login and set up a filter to forward all incoming mail to a different address (and you can even set up a “send as” with your email provider).
The only issue I have with this is that almost all incomming mail goes straight to Yandex’s spam, so I would recommend getting to mobile app and checking spam regularly (and marking everything “not spam”).
Where I live, we are not forgiving of the Russians following their Novichok poisonings as the result of which three people suffered life-time injury and an innocent member of the public died. You have asked an understandable question which I must answer out of politeness; I am not being political, but I could not bring myself to ever have anything to do with Russia under the present regime. Please excuse me.
So you have an email address on your website which people can use to send email to you. You have hooked that email address hooked up an email forwarding service from your email provider and have that forwarding to Gmail. And now Gmail doesn’t like the email being forwarded.
And I completely understand that you have this issue. This is sadly just a known problem of email forwarding, and I know from experience that Gmail is being quite picky with this.
If you are a fan of Gmail’s service besides these issues, maybe you could get a cheap POP/SMTP box somewhere and have Gmail pull from that. Gmail doesn’t have this issue if you use their POP import for it. And as a bonus, you can use SMTP to also send email from your own domain.
I also moved the topic to informal given that this is more a discussion about email providers and email in general than it being a website or hosting issue.
To my knowledge, Gmail is the exception in how picky they are. But I’m not sure about other providers. I remember most issues were with Gmail, but I’m not sure how much of that is caused by Gmail’s spam filters and how much it’s caused by Gmail just being a really popular email provider.
I have a long-running problem concerning one email address which is always rejected by Gmail when forwarded from my domain. The issue has gone back and forth like a ping pong ball between me and my domain registration company, and I am getting nowhere. The email address is from a highly respectable business and there is definitely no question of spam being involved. Other people from the same business are able to email me without issue using their company domain as does the one address which is being blocked - from the most senior person in the business ! The email address does not appear on any blacklists and I have whitelisted it in my Gmail account. But it makes no difference. I get the same result “Gmail does not designate 188.8.131.52 as a permitted sender”.
The only question I have not yet asked anyone is whether this could have anything to do with Cloudfare and my domain’s security certificate ? I cannot imagine that it does, but I thought it best to ask the question.
Not really, in as much as it would involve a lot to change from Gmail to another service provider, to be honest. Gmail works perfectly except for this particular email address for which I have had to create a very unsatisfactory work-around. The contact concerned has to email a colleague in the same business who then sends me the text of the email only. If the contact’s email address is even included in the colleague’s email, then it bounces. So it is not just a question of the colleague re-forwarding to email. They have to remove the sender’s email address from within the text and just forward only the text ! It functions but is not satisfactory. Somewhere the email address is being tagged as spam and it would be honestly a huge amount of work to change all my 100+ forwarders to a new email provider just for the sake of one email address.
I really need to find the root cause of the issue, and if it were possible to whitelist that address with Cloudfare, then it would be worth a try.