[SASAG] another hosting quest

Chris MacGregor chris at bouncingdog.com
Sat May 5 22:25:41 PDT 2007


Greetings, all.

I now find myself searching for a place to outsource my hosting - I'm 
handing off my web hosting business and getting all the servers out of 
the basement.

I've gone through the places that were recommended for Leeland recently, 
but I'm having a tough time finding a good fit. 

I need:
    IMAP over SSL
    20-50 GB+ storage for a reasonable price (total under $30/month) [if 
everything else fits except this, I could host just the big stuff 
elsewhere (e.g., godaddy), but one-stop-shopping would be much more 
convenient]
    email addresses using wildcards (this is the tough one; more below)
    hosted on Linux, or at least some *ix - no Windows, please

I want:
    MySQL
    decent webmail
    ssh access to a shell
    server-side email sorting/filtering (e.g., SIEVE)

There are some potentially compelling options, but the ability to 
specify email addresses with wildcards is critical, and is turning out 
to be hard to find.  (Similar to IMAP 4 or 5 years ago when I started 
hosting, and I was one of the few offering it - now almost every 
credible operation supports it.)  I could do VPS (virtual private 
server), yes, but that's not a huge win over running the server in my 
basement - I want shared hosting where keeping patches up to date, 
managing backups & UPSes & so forth is someone else's problem.

Dreamhost, for instance, would probably be perfect, except they 
can't/won't do the wildcard thing.  (I had an extensive email discussion 
with them about it.)

So, any recommendations or leads would be much appreciated.  I'll 
summarize to the list.

    Thanks,
       Chris MacGregor

P.S. "What is this crazy notion of wildcards in email addresses, and why 
would you want that?" you ask.  Well, here's basically how I put it to 
Dreamhost:

I use a bunch of different email addresses all starting with a common 
prefix, e.g., chris-sasag-post at cybermato.com, 
chris-companyxyz at cybermato.com for login on Company XYZ's web site, 
etc.  See below for reasons why this is really, really useful.

I would like to be able to set up one mailbox and have (for instance) 
all chris-*@cybermato.com (or /^chris-.*@cybermato\.com$/ if you like 
regexps) delivered to that box, and similar for carolyn-* for my wife, 
etc.  The best thing would be if I could use regexps (especially pcre), 
but I could live with just shell wildcards (*?) or equivalent.  I have 
had this working for a long time now on my own Postfix server (and so I 
have email addresses like this scattered all over the place), but I want 
to stop running my own server so I can play with my kids more, so I 
really need access to some kind of wildcard facility.

For simplicity, I could handle having to set up the wildcards as 
forwarders to a fixed mailbox name (e.g., chris-*@cybermato.com forwards 
to chris at cybermato.com, and chris at cybermato.com is a mailbox).

Using a unique version of your email address every time you hand it out 
to yet another web site (or raffle entry form, etc.) has many advantages:

* You can track who leaked your address to the spammers
* You can disable a single address (when it does get leaked to spammers) 
without losing or needing to change all the others
* You can easily sort incoming email into appropriate folders
* You can distinguish easily between spam and non-spam
* You can efficiently handle a bunch of address variations to handle 
misspellings and the like.  For instance, carol*@cybermato.com catches 
carolyn, caroline, carol, and other goofups.  And 
/^j?v[ao]nf[ou]nkh[oue]rst at cybermato\.com$/ catches, all in one regexp, 
the many observed misspellings of what's supposed to be 
jvonfonkhurst at cybermato.com.

Think that spam-leaking thing doesn't happen?  Well, 
chris-ameritrade at cybermato.com has been getting spam lately...and I 
guarantee I never gave that address to ANYONE except Ameritrade.  Hmmm!

The next best thing would be to support SIEVE, including a bounce 
(return to sender) option.  It looks like you're supporting procmail 
instead, but that doesn't seem to provide any way to do proper 
wildcarding (e.g., "do X if the To: STARTS with 'chris-', else bounce") 
or bouncing. A SIEVE option would be useful to your customers.  (I've 
used Cyrus IMAP, which includes SIEVE support, but if you're using some 
other IMAP server, there are independent SIEVE packages available as well.)

Some places support the user+suffix at domain.com addressing extension, but 
many (and I do mean MANY) web sites refuse to take a + in an email 
address, insisting (incorrectly!) that it is invalid, and when you write 
it down, it is often incorrectly read as a lowercase T.  I know because 
back when I used sendmail, I had to use user+suffix - I couldn't find a 
way to do user* addressing.  I finally switched from sendmail to Postfix 
specifically to gain the ability to do pcre (Perl regexps) email address 
transformations.





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