Update on Windows 7 Email Client Issue

First off, I want to thank you for your patience with the email issue affecting some mail configurations. We know these kinds of issues are major inconveniences and have been working diligently to solve this issue.

It took us a while to track this down, but we’ve been able to determine the problem exists with the following mail clients and operating system combinations:

  • Microsoft Outlook on Windows 7
  • Pegasus Mail on Windows 7

Mozilla Thunderbird on Windows 7 appears to be unaffected and works correctly, as does any mail client on Windows 10.

The “fix” for this suggested by Microsoft and cPanel is to downgrade to SSLv3 security. To do this would put our customers data at risk and thus we aren’t willing to do this. Security trumps everything else, so the following workarounds are available.

Ensure Windows 7 and Outlook Are Fully Updated

If you have a computer running Windows 7 or Office, please ensure that both are fully up to date. If you’re using an older version of Outlook (2013 or earlier), you will want to upgrade. Office 2013 becomes unsupported as of April 2018 by Microsoft, and any version before that has long been out of date.

Once you’ve ensured Windows 7 and Office are fully up to date, if that doesn’t resolve the problem, you may try this fix from Microsoft. This patch is a recommended update, but you may have skipped it in Windows Update or it may have failed to install.

There are reports of this patch fixing issues with non-Microsoft mail clients.

Upgrade to Windows 10

Modern versions of Windows have the modern SSL support required to address this issue.  Windows 7 supposedly does as well, but we have found systems that lack proper modern TLS support. This is likely due to a stuck or non-applied Windows update.

Use Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird appears unaffected by this issue and is fully supported. Many prefer it for its speed and simplicity. It’s open source and free.

Use Webmail

We realize this isn’t an ideal solution for all clients, but this will always work on any computer. It’s flexible, fast, and extremely reliable. You can access webmail by going to http://yourdomain/webmail or http://mail.yourodmain.com/webmail.

If you have any questions, please let us know. We’re always here to help!

A Discussion on Email Reliability

Email reliability is a very central and primary goal of OCS Solutions. We have dozens of scripts and processes that run throughout the day, helping our technicians ensure that your mail is received and delivered without a hitch. Customers expect their email to work with the reliability of a utility, and, for the most part, we achieve this.

Before we dive into specifics, I need to define our services. We have two separate email services – our Workspace Mail systems and our cPanel-based shared hosting systems. The majority of the items we’ll be discussing in this blog post are related to our cPanel-based mail systems. Our Workspace Mail system is on a completely different infrastructure and is dedicated to mail. It is a completely separate product and does not come with shared hosting accounts.

On our cPanel shared hosting systems, we serve both websites and mail from these servers. The primary focus is web hosting – email is provided as a free add-on to the web hosting service. While cPanel provides an extremely robust email system, any time you host email and websites on the same server (and more importantly, the same IP address), you may have issues with email.

This is a well-known fact in the hosting industry, but is something that doesn’t get a lot of public attention. I believe most hosting companies don’t want to discuss this issue because it exposes a critical flaw in the way email is handled. In shared hosting, you will invariably, from time to time, have a website that sends SPAM. This is almost always an accident – a hacking attack on an outdated WordPress site or something similar, but the cleanup from these incidents can be extraordinarily time consuming.

We have scripts in place that prevent large SPAM outbreaks. Oftentimes a hacker is only able to send a couple of dozen mails before they are caught and blocked. Even so, large mail providers have a zero-tolerance policy, and rightfully so. Because of this, our shared hosting servers may temporary be blocked or limited by some providers. When this happens, we immediately request de-listing, but this process can take up to 24 hours. In the meantime, you may not be able to send mail to some recipients.

This is a very unfortunate cycle and keeps our support team busy. While we pursue these reports diligently, ultimately we cannot guarantee extreme email reliability on our shared hosting infrastructure. We’ve had two alternatives in place to remedy this – our Workspace Mail product and our dedicated cPanel email server.

Our dedicated cPanel email server is a stand alone system that hosts no websites. It’s only focus is to provide email and nothing else. It doesn’t get blacklisted because it doesn’t have websites and thus insecure WordPress plugins and contact forms. It enjoys an extremely high delivery rate and customers never report issues with it. And, because it’s cPanel, we can easily migrate the mail portion of an account over to it and leave the web hosting part, simplifying deployment. Passwords, webmail settings and even address books can be preserved.

Yes, this process does create two cPanel logins. But if a customer had Google or Microsoft mail, or our Workspace Mail product, this would be the case anyway. Regretfully we cannot combine the two logins, but this is the nature of the cure – if we had a way to tie the two pieces together under the same login, it would be on the same server, and thus have the same issues as the email on our shared hosting systems.

In addition to this service change, we are also increasing the frequency of our scanning scripts to clamp down on spammers even more aggressively. We have deployed a system to scan for out of date WordPress installations and insecure contact forms and will be contacting clients who have these on their sites with notices to upgrade these elements.

Despite all of these changes, we must also admit that we are not Google or Microsoft, the world’s two largest business email providers. We’ve always been very forthcoming of our strengths and weaknesses, but it is clear that only companies of that size can dominate the business email hosting industry. We prefer to engage customers on a more personal basis and provide hand-crafted solutions.

I hope that you have found this transparent glimpse into our hosting systems and policies beneficial. If you have any questions about it, please contact us.




You Need Private, Secure, and Reliable Email Hosting

You Need Private, Secure, and Reliable Email Hosting

Sure, but Email Hosting is Free, Right?

With free email services, you are the product, not the customer. Your email data is used to help generate a marketing profile to deliver advertising while you work and converse with friends and family. You have no support, no guarantee of service, and you can’t brand your email address.

Marketing experts have long advised small business owners to have an email address on their domain name and not with a free email service. It’s undeniable that [email protected] looks a lot better than [email protected]. Even [email protected] has significant limitations. With our email hosting, you can use your own domain.

My Email Comes with My Web Hosting

We love cPanel. It’s an excellent hosting platform. OCS has long offered email addresses on your domain as part of a hosting package. cPanel provides good support for email. That said, it suffers from several drawbacks:

  • Inadequate spam protection versus proprietary solutions
  • Email hosted on same server as website

Let’s explore both of these issues:

SPAM Protection

The first is not to knock SpamAssassin – it is a good solution. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work well out of the box for most people. It requires some training and calibrating to reach the maximum effectiveness for each user. Also, it being open source, spammers can run their email through it and know how it will score before they send, giving them a huge advantage.

Separation of Email and Web

The second issue – same server email – sounds like more of a convenience than a problem, but it can quickly become an issue in a shared hosting environment. While uncommon, outbound SPAM emails do make it through the email system of a cPanel server. Scripts and processes we run on the server quickly clamp down on this, but even a handful of SPAM messages can be too much for some providers. Every web hosting company must deal with playing wack-a-mole with removing servers from blacklists to ensure maximum delivery rates.

Our Solution: OCS Email Hosting

With OCS Email Hosting, your email is your property – private and secure. It isn’t scanned to build profiles on you like most free providers do, and only US-based agents are allowed to access your email only in the event of diagnosing an issue you raise (with your consent) or complying with a valid US court order. Since this system is on a completely separate cluster from your web hosting systems, it isn’t affected by the same issues that affect cPanel email accounts.

With our new email service, you’ll enjoy secure, reliable, and easy to use email service packed with an impressive array of features. An integrated webmail system allows you to manage your contacts, calendar, and handle all of your mails from the comfort of a browser. There’s support for Outlook, Thunderbird, and most other IMAP/POP3 clients, and our service works well on the iOS or Android platform.

You’ll enjoy 24/7 phone support and the peace of mind knowing that an entire team of experts is working around the clock to ensure your email is reliable and secure.