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Yahoo's Amazing Disappearing Mail Servers 139

Golygydd Max writes "A Techworld story reveals that the reason Yahoo email has delivery problems is that the company's mail servers mysteriously close once in a while." From the article: "According to trimMail's Email Battles site, which recently monitored 16 of the company's advertised email hosts 240 times over a half hour period, only 133 of its probes were answered. Many of the servers were closed and unavailable. Overall availability ranged from 25 percent to 75 percent over the admittedly short test period. The average availability was 55 percent, with the worst of the servers available only 7 percent of the time."
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Yahoo's Amazing Disappearing Mail Servers

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  • by WebHostingGuy ( 825421 ) * on Thursday April 13, 2006 @04:42PM (#15124595) Homepage Journal
    I was under the impression that Yahoo! mail was free. Isn't the rule you get what you pay for? Seriously though, why would Yahoo put a ton of money into something which is not a revenue generator. Free email is so yesterday.

    And if you don't like what I am saying you can reach me at:

    server-never-works@yahoo.com

    and really let me know how you feel about this. Well, you can at least reach 7 to 55% of the time.
    • Well, nothing's free. If the mail looked free before, it must've been paid for somehow, and rather than let quality slip they should stop providing the "free" service when the bills stopped getting paid.
    • by Alex P Keaton in da ( 882660 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @04:48PM (#15124660) Homepage
      Actually, yahoo has a significant business email program...

      http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/business_services /
      They also have a lot of people who use Yahoo as a web host (paid) and get email @theirdoman.com....
      So Yahoo mail is not always free.....
      • Yahoo runs my ISP's mail servers. Explains the shitty QOS I've been getting.
        -nB
      • It's all very well Yahoo having a commercial email arm, but the millions who use Yahoo's free service are just as important.

        I often have to look at the mail queues on our servers and see that mail to our clients hosted by Yahoo is again unable to be sent; it happens to Hotmail and Yahoo fairly frequently, but Yahoo is more commonly unavailable.

        Fortunately it generally means only a short delay, but it's not a service I would personally be pround to run.
      • Yahoo's commercial e-mail service is one of the most hobbled hosting services I've ever encountered.

        First thing, the "business mail" account gets you 10 e-mail addresses for $10 / month. An additional 20 e-mail addresses costs another $10 / month. However, the $12 / month "Web hosting starter" comes with *200* e-mail addresses which are identical to those that come with the "business mail package".

        However, to use either service, you *have* to use Yahoo Domains to host your DNS. If you've got a web hostin
    • The annoying thing is that sometimes you get banned from groups because your email doesn't go through. An annoying thing if you belong to very many email groups. In light of their own poor uptime you'd think they'd make their groups less picky about mail servers being temporarily busy or down.
      • I actually dropped Yahoo as my webhost provider for this very reason. Too many bounced emails at random times. The outages were usually short, probably less than a couple of minutes, but would happen more than weekly. Ironically, it seemed that ETrade always was on the bounce side for some reason. Anyway, I asked them that if I was paying $20 a month for what other companies where charging $5 a month, then why was the service flaky. They asked me to tell them exact times and dates, and would investigate and
        • I now use my own email server for that reason. It still has the occassional problem but it's no where near as often. Unfortunely it's still a pain to reactive Yahoo Groups after one of these issues.

          I had my ex-register register kavlon.info (because I own kavlon.com and kavlon.org) and try to blackmail me into buying it from them. They put it in my name but wouldn't give me access to it. I tried finding some legal method to force them to give it to me, or sale it at a fair price, since it's a name that I hav
    • Well yes, but Yahoo makes no mention of the fact that the servers are so dodgy, and as far as I can see, it's not a beta. Email is a service and Yahoo is claiming to provide that service. If you're losing emails then you're not doing as you claim, full-stop. Gmail manages, hell - even hotmail manages. Why can't yahoo?
    • I am paying for Yahoo's premium account. Unfortunately, yahoo is not exactly delivering. Still it's way better than hotmail.
      • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:01PM (#15124816) Homepage Journal

        Still it's way better than hotmail.

        Print out the mail you wish to send then smear feces on it. Tie it to the leg of a blind pigeon. Release the pigeon then taking pot-shots at it. The results are still better than hotmail.
      • Really?

        I have had a throw away hotmail account for years and have never had a problem with it. Email always arrives, is always sent and no spam other than the ones I send there.
        • It's funny you say that, I've had the same results with Yahoo. I've never to my knowledge had a bounced message, and all the mail I send has arrived. I use Yahoo POPS so I never actually have to visit mail.yahoo.com, and while occasionally the daemon that downloads the mail times out, I've never had any other problem.
        • See i still ahve a problem with my hotmail account that has been ongoing for 3 years. Seems they allowed multiple people to have the same email address. I have spoken with the other 2 people hwo own my email adress and all three of us have tried non stop to contavt hotmail regarding this and they still claim it is not thier fault..Thats why i use my primary as gmail and hotmail for everything else
        • I've had hotmail, yahoo, and gmail accounts for years.

          I'm most satisfied with my gmail account.

          hotmail is ok, but it sucks that my accounts have sometimes been suspended due to inactivity. It deletes all my mail, so that one important email from a year ago is gone. A few times, I've had it throw up server errors instead of the page. I have a screen shot somewhere of one of them.

          Yahoo, I've seen problems with too many time. My girlfriend has a paid account w
    • Yahoo gets advertising money from its email, but more importantly it is one of their main lures to a large user base. As well as their individual portals. Email is a very cheap service to provide for free. Why be critical of them for it?
    • You aren't paying money for their free service, but you are generating revenue for them through massive advertising campaigns. If they screw up their free e-mail, they will chase away the numbers that allow them to charge 2 and 3 times the rate that other similar sites do (Hotmail, for example). Sure, they will keep their paying customers, but Yahoo makes far more on advertising. Using Adblock doesn't eliminate the ads from their perspective, you are still using and promoting the brand by using an @yahoo.co
  • by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @04:45PM (#15124619) Homepage Journal
    All you need is one server to have a functioning email system. Can anyone say 'MX priority list'? Of course maybe when each user is taking in hundreds of pieces of spam a day things might get *a little slow*...
    • by caluml ( 551744 ) <slashdot&spamgoeshere,calum,org> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @04:58PM (#15124785) Homepage
      Plus your average mail server will hold your mail, and keep trying for 5 days before giving up. So, as long as 1 of Yahoo's servers is up for a decent period in a 5 day period, mail shouldn't be lost. Course, users might be annoyed with the delays. :)
    • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:09PM (#15124886) Homepage
      Yahoo is a heavy user of greylisting. I would expect any of their servers to break connections, refuse connections and even deploy firewall rules including tarpitting to anything their greylisting algorithm finds annoying. In fact I am pretty sure about the first two, dunno about the last item. I am planning on doing it on the servers I run, I would be surprised if they do not have it already. After all they have a huge department that does nothing else but mail for themselves and their resale customers.

      Move along people, simply the dot.bomb times are back. Yet another metric company making big noises about the fact that someone BIG looks bad on their metric. Reason is most likely that the metric is badly designed and does not take current large scale mail handling practices into account. We have all been there a few years ago when everybody and his dog was pushing metrics around just before the bubble collapsed. Move along, nothing new here.
      • by coaxeus ( 911103 ) * on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:41PM (#15125188) Homepage
        Indeed, as soon as I read the headline of the article I knew some dork that didn't understand greylisting was behind it. I've implemented greylisting with MDaemon (along with it's other 9 or so anti-spam layers) with great sucess, and if you use decent monitoring tools, everything works just fine.
        • Yeah, greylisting works great, if the sending mail servers behave too. My employer (a small ISP) uses it, and every now and then a remote server has some weird retry patterns that fuck everything up. Try explaining THAT to a customer.
        • That's all well and good, but over the years I've seen Yahoo have several spasms of just plain EATING email both incoming and outgoing (including for paying customers on Yahoo-partnered DSL). And such incidents persist for months.

          Someone knowledgeable who looked into one such incident concluded that some of Yahoo's mail servers are just plain misconfigured, making them act like no mail was received nor sent.

          I first became aware of the problem in 1999 -- our project LOST our coder (who used yahoo for mail) b
      • I also hope that they know the size of the mail system they are playing with. That mail system must have its very own schemes, countermeasures.

        To see size of Yahoo mail:
        http://www.senderbase.org/ [senderbase.org]

        ps: Some on that list are spammer friendly ISPs (non managed etc), that is the purpose of that system. They own spamcop.net too.
  • when the 5 nines fails.
  • The servers will be down. Yahoo mail is in beta. I'm sorry, what? Gmail?
    • Err you must be running recent windows or a mac - for the beta - it only works on windows/mac so yahoo webmail beta is not 'webmail'.

      If you have access to a unix box with a browser it will tell you to use the old webmail client, not the new beta client.

      Thats my experience.

  • by pen ( 7191 ) * on Thursday April 13, 2006 @04:47PM (#15124651)

    Servers being down some of the time shouldn't cause large-scale delivery problems. Remember, when e-mail protocols were being designed, a lot of these servers were down for a good portion of each day. E-mail protocols were designed to deliver e-mail in whatever window existed. If the receiving server is down, the sending server will try again for a good while before giving up.

    Also, as someone else has already mentioned, there are the MX priority lists...

    • Except companies are cheapass and don't use that anymore. When I send e-mails and the server I send to is down, my SMTP server bitches to me after only 5 minutes, not 12 hours.
      • They're not cheap-asses. They're incompetent. It usually doesn't cost anything to have your ISP do MX backup for you. You just have to set it up. Of course, that can cause the problems with SPAM filtering if you use RBLs to reject client connections because spammers often send to the secondary MX first in hopes to circumvent IP blacklists. Unless, of course, you don't rely on immediate connection rejection and use something like SpamAssassin which checks the whole header for blacklisted IPs. But I digress..
  • by Osrin ( 599427 ) * on Thursday April 13, 2006 @04:48PM (#15124653) Homepage
    This is hardly a news story. Tomorrow: 100% of people on my front porch stub their toe at 10:19am on Friday morning. Porch declared a national disaster zone, FEMA are organizing evacuation flights.
    • by dmeranda ( 120061 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:23PM (#15125013) Homepage
      And in other brilliant studies:

      * Ethernet packets found to collide sometimes, resulting in worldwide communications silence.

      * Some traffic lights found to periodically turn red almost 50% of the time; transportation system grinds to a halt.

      * Study finds that if you call someone every 15 seconds and ask "can you hear me now?", unexplicably none of your calls will be answered, in addition to getting strange looks.

      * Fast food restaurant closes one of its eight queues at the shift change; six people starve to death as a result.
      • * Some traffic lights found to periodically turn red almost 50% of the time; transportation system grinds to a halt.

        Solution: Add the "yellow" light to them. Then they will only turn red what, 25% of the time? Boom, instant improvement.
    • "FEMA are organizing evacuation flights." You should see them about a week from Thursday.
  • by xRelisH ( 647464 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @04:48PM (#15124657)
    My guess is that these servers along with Babylon 4 went back in time to aid the Vorlons and Minbari in the first Shadow war.
  • by rudegeek ( 966948 ) <junkyard@NOSPAm.bronikowski.com> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @04:49PM (#15124669) Homepage

    The average availability was 55 percent

    Maybe they fight spam in stupid way by letting fake SMTP servers eat thier e-mails? Normal SMTP server will delay deliver while spam-bot will gave up. They not follow RFC from what I know. ;-)
  • meh (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    their idea of "closed" port 25 is a timeout. with their scanner hitting all the yahoo mta hosts, it's likely to be blocked as a spammer after awhile.

    the test isn't all that useful -- something that measures delivery of messages themeselves would be more helpful.

    I think this site is just attacking yahoo to get attention -- that's the norm for a slashdot article recently
  • by Pranjal ( 624521 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @04:52PM (#15124702)
    Duh! That is why they have multiple redundant servers. When one server goes down the email is routed to another server. Personally I have never encountered a situtation where an email sent to my yahoo account did not reach me. Yahoo Groups is a different story. Emails used to disappear frequently when they merged with eGroups. Things have stabilized now, but sometimes emails sent to a group do not reach all the participants and it is not a receiver issue but a routing issue on yahoo groups servers. Overall the uptime should be close to 100%. Nobody cares what is happening behind the scenes, whether one server has 100% or 7%.
    • how the f would you know, if email sent to you is not delivered? Does everyone who sends you email, call you and check with you to see if it was delivered?
    • But I've known 2-3 DAY delays in receiving mail. That, to me, is amazingly bad. Yeah, yeah, they're free. So what? If they're badly configured, then they won't run, no matter how much Yahoo was paid, but if they're well-configured, then they'll run, no matter how little Yahoo gets from them.

      Load in Linux + LinuxBIOS + a watchdog, with a copy of Postfix, for the mail handling, and you should not be getting a 50% downtime. It should be closer to 0.05% downtime, even under the kinds of loads described. (I'm in

    • I lost a lot of email while using Yahoo as my webhost/email server when for brief periods all mail delivered would be dropped. It was really annoying. Made me switch to a diff webhost after a while.
    • Too right. On good days mail from Yahoo Groups isn't actually being sent from blacklisted servers ... so actually makes it as far as the recipient's spam filter before being discarded.
    • I've use Yahoo Mail since 1997.

      Yahoo marks every email from Yahoo Groups as Spam unless I explicitly add the address to my addressbook.

      Now, that's efficient, ain't it.
  • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @04:52PM (#15124706) Journal
    Email is DESIGNED to handle failures of this kind. Assuming Yahoo is running some form of clustering, it's quite reasonable to think that systems will start/stop as load fluctuates. Availability of individual servers is largely irrelevant - it's the availability of the system at large that matters.
    • Not Meaningless (Score:2, Informative)

      by twitter ( 104583 )
      Email is DESIGNED to handle failures of this kind.

      Yes it is.

      The web itself is supposed to be redundant, but it's not. Cox, under pressure from M$ and AOL, made sure you could only use their SMTP server on their network. That leaves every computer on their network reliant on their servers or web mail and it sucks. The only thing that's distributed now are the spam and DoS attacks. Yahoo's failure is just andother example of what a bad idea to concentrate services in one place. If everyone ran their ow

      • Cox doesn't block you from sending out email over port 465, which is intended for submission of outgoing mail via SMTP.
        • I think you meant port 587, the MSA port. Port 465 is a TLS on connect legacy port that MS refuses to let die (they decided not to support port 587 correctly - starttls specifically.)
      • Cox is doing the right thing. If you want to run your own server, get a static IP. If you just want to submit via another MSA, use the submission port (587/tcp) for that.

        Running a full mailserver takes far more clue than the average Unix admin has (and that is saying a lot).
        • Cox is doing the right thing. If you want to run your own server, get a static IP.

          I had one of the with @home, before Cox, thank you. It worked well.

          If you just want to submit via another MSA, use the submission port (587/tcp) for that.

          What's the use of trading one "smart host" for another? It wold be nice to not have to change smart hosts from one network to another, but that does not really solve the problem, it just lets me use another overloaded service.

          Running a full mailserver takes far more c

          • It wold be nice to not have to change smart hosts from one network to another, but that does not really solve the problem, it just lets me use another overloaded service.

            I would say that you would be running your own server colocated somewhere, so you don't have to bother about the overloaded service.

            And about the default settings, I work for a fairly large email service provider. I know the problems caused by default installations. And then it doesn't take much to convert that box into an open relay either
  • And here I thought the reason for my spam reduction was because of their filters...
    • Re:no wonder (Score:5, Informative)

      by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:39PM (#15125171) Homepage
      You are amazingly pretty much on target.

      95%+ of the SPAM reduction on Yahoo is due to the use of greylisting. Essentially the mail server simulates that it is unavailable to anyone it does not know as a well behaved relay. A well designed MTA will come back and deliver the mail later and the server will accept it. A SPAM zombie will skip to the next target.

      A probe will be judged a zombie until proven opposite. A probe that does not try to deliver mail or do anything usefull will cause the SPAM ranking of the originating IP to go up until firewall shielding rules are deployed. From there on you cannot even reach the servers in question until the entry expires. In addition to that well behaved MTAs go to MXes in a predictable order. Anything hitting MXes in a different order is immediately considered a SPAMBOT and will cause the greylisting code to either set a "refuse" with a high timeout on it or (if the code is there) to raise firewall shields outright to tarpit any connections from the BOT. This also essentially disallows you to test any specific host for MX connectivity without testing the entire MX pool in correct order. If you do, you guarantee yourself a blacklist entry which will be generated automatically on the fly.

      By the look of it this pretty much summarises what has happened here. Quite funny actually. It is indicative of the current crop of "security companies" and professionals. They claim understanding of security without knowing how things are done.
      • Beautiful post mang.

        I was with you until "In addition to that well behaved MTAs go to MXes in a predictable order. "

        Wouldn't dns round-robin (and the distributed nature of dns in general) make the prediction of the order of hosts problematic?

        Or would it be a matter of one server telling the next in order (no matter the starting point) to expect the spambot that just tried?

        It seems possible (it is possible) just not extremely as straight-forward as you may have made it seem.

        If you have more information
        • MX order has nothing to do with round-robin DNS.

          yahoo.com. 7200 IN MX 1 mx1.mail.yahoo.com.
          yahoo.com. 7200 IN MX 1 mx2.mail.yahoo.com.
          yahoo.com. 7200 IN MX 1 mx3.mail.yahoo.com.
          yahoo.com. 7200 IN MX 5 mx4.mail.yahoo.com.

          mx1-3 will be contacted first by a legitimate sender (in any order). Each might be a round-robin DNS, in which case each would only be attempted once at whatever IP each returns first. T
          • Exactly.

            In fact they do not need a higher value MX at all having all those lower level ones. In fact I will bet a case of beer that it is there to detect zombies. Anything hitting it before touching the lower ones will be presumed zombie and put on "long probation".
      • Well, that probably explains why my Yahoo account (now 8 years old) gets spam seldom to never. Tho ironically, it never got a single spam until AFTER Yahoo started filtering!

        However -- sometimes Yahoo just plain EATS mail without a trace (both incoming and outgoing), and when that happens the problem will persist for months. Someone with a clue who checked into one such incident concluded that some of their servers are just plain misconfigulated.

  • Down or defense? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @04:57PM (#15124757)
    240 times over a half hour period is a high rate of connections per server (8 per minute per server), especially for email servers, so is it possible that Yahoo!'s servers were simply defending themselves against a perceived threat? Connection throttling was the first thing that came to mind on reading the blurb.
    • No. If you RTFL in TFA [emailbattles.com] ... You see that they hit 4 of yahoo's mx records "mx#.mail.yahoo.com" (divide by 4, that gives us 2 per minute per server), and each of these has multiple IP addresses (on average, 4, so divide by 4 again). So in reality, they were hitting a physical machine *once every two minutes*. Or, as they put it in TFL:

      "Next, we took measurements every two minutes for half an hour. That's 15 separate readings of each of 16 IP addresses, for a total of 240 readings. The results were surprisin

  • Perhaps this test just happened to coincide with a software upgrade/patch that was being rolled out to their systems, requiring some per-system downtime.
    • by jd ( 1658 )
      They run FreeBSD, which rarely needs any kind of patches. Also, patching should cause a fairly even distribution of downtimes, but the description suggests it was much more random.
  • Methodology? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jtorkbob ( 885054 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:00PM (#15124802) Homepage
    Trying out the test, it *appears* that the tool connects to port 25 and checks for a banner. There is no information about timeouts. I presume that 'Closed' means 'Timeout' or 'Connection Refused', but they don't tell us.

    It seems that Yahoo! has blocked their server or something; the tool works fine on my domains but I can't get a result for yahoo.com.
  • Microsoft (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    One can only assume they are running the latest and greatest version of Microsoft Exchange with the same level of stability as Hillary Clinton carrying Rosie Rosie O'Donnell piggy-back at an NRA convention.
  • by twoflower ( 24166 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:01PM (#15124809)

    Yahoo is actually doing the right thing here, from a technical point of view. The worst thing you can do is have an MX that accepts connections but is not responsive enough to actually handle accepting a message at that point -- it's far better to stop accepting SMTP connections when you detect you're at your maximum capacity.

    This is because SMTP clients who fail to get a connection will immediately try the next MX. If they get a connection, but can't send the message, they may back off and try again later, delaying the message further.

    • I expect it is not just that.

      If I was them I would have also tracked the connections and tagged as a potential SPAM Zombie anyone who deviates from the expected MX fallback pattern. For example someone who hits MX with a value of 5 without trying any of the 1s is an immediate Zombie candidate. Someone who skips from 1 to 5 directly without going along to the other 1s is an obvious Zombie candidate. Someone who hits more than 1 but not all IPs from one MX in sequence before going to the next MX is also likel
    • I read with highest scores first, so you might not be the first to point this out, but you are the first I've seen. Please mod down every other post, because this is the first one (I've seen) that is correct.

      Yahoo gets a lot of mail. A LOT of mail. A shitload. Take a large number, and multiply it by another large number. Add a zero or two to the end of that number. Imagine getting that many incoming SMTP connections, even over an extended period of time.

      Graylisting is unlikely, firewalls talking to ea
  • I admit, I have seen a few more glitches since they raised the space to 256 meg, but for the most part yahoo mail has been available nearly always in the ~9 years I have been using the service.
  • by MadMorf ( 118601 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:09PM (#15124891) Homepage Journal
    I've used Yahoo for %100 of my personal email for the last 6 years.

    And, as an email admin, I also use it to test systems, both mine and others, and it always works...

    If the servers are up and down all the time, I've never noticed it...

    I'd file this under FUD...
    • As the owner of a hosting company with 2000+ active accounts,
      I have alot of experience with yahoo's mail servers. I would have to say that I've never heard someone refer to
      themselves as an "Email Admin" say yahoo mail is great. I've seen yahoo fail to send email from our client servers to
      yahoo email addresses 25-30% of the time, from servers in NYC, Chicago,
      and LA. We get bounces all the time saying that the email server
      mx(insert number).yahoo.com isn't accepting connections at this time.
      Their servers
    • Big agreement. I've not had a Yahoo email delivery problem in eight years.
  • We use Yahoo mail at our company. I've noticed, over the last year or so that about 10% of the time, MS Outlook or whatever POP3 client, will hang when trying to send or receive mail.

    It happens across the entire company and happens enough that I have to answer questions from users about it. I tell them to cancel out and retry and 100% of the time that solves the problem.


    Guess I now know why this is happening. WTF Yahoo?

    • What kind of company uses Yahoo for corporate email??

      • The kind that has 25 employees and doesn't want to admin it's own mail server. What kind of dufus asks such a dumb ass question?
        • You're the one complaining about problems with Yahoo as a corporate email provider. If you had said you had no problems with it, it might have been a dumb ass question.

          Do you at least have a real domain? Or does everyone have a @yahoo.com email address?

          -matthew
  • When everyone uses one "server" for their email, the only people with reliable services are bot net owners. Then the bag guys win.

  • My SO has had problems in the past two weeks sending email to seemly any AOL subscriber from her yahoo account. I have had no such problems. She gets a 421: SERVICE NOT AVAILABLE error message from a yahoo server. We did an experiment each sending a bunch of emails. She had 100% failure. I had 100% success. She tried sending to 6 different people. Both AOL and Yahoo customer service were useless (i guess what can you expect for a free service). Does anyone here have any ideas what could be going on?
  • If you have to deal with mailing lists or bulk email or lots of users you already know this is true. I create special sendmail queues just to handle Yahoo's lousy SMTP servers. With a decent provider (like *gasp*, AOL) you can open up a connection and cram in just about any amount of email. With Yahoo the conversation is usually like this.
    .... Connecting to mx3.mail.yahoo.com. via esmtp...
    (send one or two emails)
    451 mta152.mail.re4.yahoo.com Resources temporarily unavailable. Please try again later
  • has anyone else noticed that Yahoo is on multiple spam lists (psbl.surriel.com, bl.spamcop.net)? we had to stop using the psbl list at work (college) as we have so many students with yahoo accounts and the faculty stopped getting emails from their students.
  • I've always wanted to know what MTA software they use at Yahoo. I've always assumed it was something homegrown, but have never heard anything one way or the other.

    I was working at a large ISP and around six or seven years ago I was troubleshooting this exact problem. I noticed these same symptoms with yahoo where some of mx's were available sometimes, rarely, or never. This particular problem turned out to be that yahoo's MTA will not communicate with Post.Office, at the time a product of Software.com [software.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Obviously no mail administrator was ever consulted about this story before it made Slashdot's front page. All this guy did was ping the SMTP port of what he thought was a mail server. Has any Slashdot editor ever heard of round robin DNS [wikipedia.org] or load balancing proxies [wikipedia.org]? If not, perhaps they should hire someone with minimal knowledge of how email servers in large corporations work before posting a front-page story like this.
  • Um... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:55PM (#15127011)
    "240 times over a half hour period, only 133 of its probes were answered."

    Well, if a single host tried to ping me once every 7.5 seconds for a half-hour, I'd want my hardware to ignore a few of them, too.
  • The point is that if the SMTP implementation you're using is correct and the DNS MX record smartly defined, then you'd need just one email server up and running!
  • Isn't this exactly why domains have multiple MX records?

    Come to think of it, if you look at the A records for www.yahoo.com (actually yahoo.aka-dns.com) I'd bet a good number of those hosts are down at any given moment too.

    We have redundant systems so that a given host being down is not crippling. We have multiple responses to DNS queries so that we can make use of those redundancies.

  • Anyone who knows how to look at their mail software's records has known this for years. And hotmail.com has problems nearly as bad as yahoo.com. Sending email to either typically involves trying to contact the first server in the mxlist, waiting for a timeout, trying the second server, waiting for a timeout, etc. For both of them, most of their listed servers accept connections, but simply don't respond (at least within the 120-sec timeout that I use).

    This has been true for some years now. I'd expect th

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