Regarding Our Email Volume Policy Change

Sent to our customers earlier today:

At Canvas Dreams, protecting your website and online business are of the greatest importance to us. I’m writing to you today regarding a change in our shared/reseller email policy. I wanted to tell you why we are instituting this policy change, what effects it may have on your service, and what steps can be taken to work around the limitation.

Controlling unwanted junk email (spam) is a continuous challenge for a web host. Many providers place a hard limit of between 200 and 300 emails per hour that may be sent out by a customer. This is done to prevent any one customer from relaying large amounts of spam, which may temporarily damage the reputation of a server and cause problems for other customers on that server.

Canvas Dreams utilizes a number of industry-standard block lists and break-in-prevention technologies to prevent spam. For many years, this has sufficed, and we’ve avoided placing limitations on the amount of email that can be sent via shared and reseller accounts, in the interest of providing as open a service to you as possible. It’s a careful balance we have struck, between facilitating your use of email, while also guarding against our network being used to relay spam.

In recent weeks, however, we have started seeing a growing number of customers who are not keeping their application installations (such as Joomla, Zen Cart, or WordPress) patched and up-to-date. Despite it being stated in our Terms of Service that a website’s content is the customer’s responsibility and that applications should be regularly updated and patched, the reality is, it doesn’t always happen. Web applications are frequently the target of break-in attacks by outside hackers, and no matter how secure our servers or network may be, all it takes is a single, outdated installation of WordPress (for example) to enable a hacker to compromise a website on a server and use that website to relay thousands of spam messages.

Despite our wishes to maintain an open network, hard limits can go a long way to limit the damage of such an attack.

1. Changes We Are Implementing

In the interest of protecting all customers on our shared and reseller servers, we are going to implement a hard limit of 500 emails per domain, per hour, that may be sent through our network on all shared and reseller servers.

This limit is placed on each domain within your shared hosting or reseller account. If you have three hosted domains with which you use email (such as Plan A), each of those domains will be permitted to send up to 500 emails in any given hour.

The email limits will be put into place on all of our shared and reseller servers within the next 24 hours.

2. How This May Affect You

This change is only being implemented on our shared and reseller servers. If you have on a VPS or Dedicated server, these limits will NOT apply to you, though for best practice we strongly encourage you to enforce these limitations to protect your own service against spam attacks.

The vast majority of users in our shared/reseller network rarely send more than 100 emails per domain per hour. For most users, you will see no difference.

If you have a hosting account on one of our shared/reseller servers and have many dozens of email addresses on your hosting account, it is possible, though unlikely, you will reach the hourly limit. Once the limit is reached during that hour, additional emails will not be sent. Mail programs may show you an error, prompting to try again later.

3. Workarounds And Alternative Solutions

3a. If you have a legitimate need to send 500 individually authenticated messages (such as in an office with dozens of employees), you might consider using a third-party hosted email service, such as Gmail. We have many customers that utilize Gmail, while maintaining their hosted website with Canvas Dreams. If you’d like to learn how to configure your mail for use with Gmail, please see this Knowledge Base article:

http://kb.canvasdreams.com/?p=554

3b. If you need to send more than 500 emails per hour for any of your domains, such as if you operate a newsletter mailing list, you might consider using PHPList (http://www.phplist.com/), which is one of the free mailer apps we provide via Fantastico De Luxe, as well as Dada Mail (http://dadamailproject.com/). Both can be configured to schedule mail to be sent out in batches over a period of time, thereby working within the hourly limits, while also facilitating your send-out to many thousands of recipients.

3c. Additionally, you might consider a third-party send-out service, such as MailChimp (http://www.mailchimp.com) or ConstantContact (http://www.constantcontact.com), as their terms permit many thousands of send-outs without limitation, and the lower end plans may be available for no cost.

Please remember that your security, along with the security of all customers on our network, is of the utmost important to everyone at Canvas Dreams. While we don’t wish to limit your use of our services, the changes we are implementing are still not as strict as most web hosts, and are being put in place to protect you and ensure your mail service remains free from problems caused by other users of our service.

Finally, please remember that your opinion matters to all of us, and it matters to me personally. Over the years, input from our customers have helped shape our policies and services, and have helped us create a better service. If you have any questions or concerns about these changes, please contact us and let us know your thoughts.

Thank you,

David Anderson, Principal
Canvas Dreams, LLC

Canvas Host

This blog is published by David Anderson, Principal and owner of Canvas Host.