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ADSL down and no way to retrieve emails going to backup MX Server?

Posted on 2006-07-21
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
Hello,

At my company we run an Exchange Server, have domain hosted with 1and1 Internet and use ADSL. The MX records are setup to point to our Exchange Server, and the backup MX setup to 1and1 Internets backup mail server. I have spoken to them, with not much joy, and they told me that the mailserver will only queue mail and send it to our mailserver when it is back up (I have no idea how long this will be before it is back up!). I was told that exisiting emails will not be lost, but people want to access them now and currently we can not receive any.

What is the best way in your expert opinions of setting this up? I have seen there are several companies offering backup MX services, but they only queue mail until the primary MX is back up, is there a way to check this mail in a webmail type format in the mean time and still have it sent back to our main server when it is available?

Thanks a lot
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Question by:chrismanncalgavin
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Expert Comment

by:giltjr
ID: 17153518
Well, does your ISP offer dial-up services because your ADSL is down?

If so you could hook up a modem to your Exchange server, dial into the Internet call up whomever is providing your backup SMTP service and talk to them about what is needed to get them to foward the e-mail to the IP address you get on the dial-up link.

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by:chrismanncalgavin
ID: 17154033
We are currently dialed up now using a backup number and modem,I am able to send emails via the Exchange Server and browse the net.

The problem is 1and1 Internet who we host the domain with offer the backup mail server but will not do anything special to help us such as release the emails that are queued. They say we can only receive them once our server is up and running again!

I have tried to setup an email forward and mailbox on their control panel, but nothing arrives there, it seems to be queued or bouncing back.

What do I do, A: In the short term to resolve this problem (or just wait) B: For the future, securing against this happening again
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Expert Comment

by:giltjr
ID: 17154848
Right now you need to know how they decide to forward the e-mail to you.  My guess is that you might be able to add a 3rd MX record pointing to the dialup IP address.   Unless they have hardcoded your ADSL address and will not forward to anything but that, this should work.

In the future, IMHO, you need a second dedicated link to the Internet.  Normally you would do this via T1's (or fractional T1's).  This is more expensive, but it allow for easy hands of backup in case of a failure of the "primary" T1.

xDSL links were not really meant for 24x7 full business use Internet connections, this goes for cable also.  They are not designed to have redundent connections.  This is why they are cheap.
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Expert Comment

by:nexusds
ID: 17162357
There is a protocol called ETRN/TURN that exchange and most internet providers support.. this is the opposite of them sending mail to your server but rather your mail server requesting from them, so as soon as your connection is regained, your email can be downloaded. For this to work, it would need to be queued at your ISP mail server, then that server and your exchange must be setup for this special protocol. Talk to your ISP about this as a solution, I'm surprised they didn't offer it and most don't charge for it.
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Expert Comment

by:giltjr
ID: 17162768
Even with that protocol, most ISP's set it up so that it will only accept requests from a specfic IP address.  Because he is on a "alternet" connection, he IP address will be different and thus they could reject his request.



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Author Comment

by:chrismanncalgavin
ID: 17166608
Ok, I have decided that we need some sort of configurable backup mail server.

There are several companies on the net that I have found offering similar services, such as www.dyndns.com. This would allow us to use them as the second MX record, and in the event our server is unavailable, configure mail to be either queued or forwarded to another email address (this would be best).

What would you recommend as the best company to use for this purpose?
Or is there anything free out there?

Thanks,
-Chris-
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by:chrismanncalgavin
ID: 17166617
Just too add to that..

My current host 1and1 Internet do not support ETRN/TURN and do not seem to allow the services I am after. Their backup mail server ONLY queues mail, with no option of forwarding etc.
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Expert Comment

by:nexusds
ID: 17168109
our company does and can do anti-spam and anti-virus per domain for around $25-35 a month for everything and should be able to do an ETRN setup. If you are in our serving area, we can likely do your DSL, etc. as well.
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by:chrismanncalgavin
ID: 17168180
Ok thank you, whats your website? Where are you based?

I am in the UK.
Do you offer mail forwarding as well as queueing using ETRN?
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Expert Comment

by:nexusds
ID: 17168275
its one or the other.. there shoudl be no reason I can think of to try to do both as you would have one or the other setup on your end.

We are in Canada, however for this need it doesn't matter where the provider is based.
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by:chrismanncalgavin
ID: 17168407
What we want to be able to do is this:

-If our mailserver goes down, the emails will be queued on a secondard mx server so that when the server comes back up they are automatically received back to our mailserver.
-If the mailserver happens to be off for a LONG time, people will need access to these emails, so I want to be able to have a second way to read the emails before our mailserver is back online. So I thought they could be forwarded as a copy to an external email address as WELL as queued for delivery. Or is there some way to read the emails that are queued on a  ETRN based mailserver queue?

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Expert Comment

by:nexusds
ID: 17168469
no, nature of the beast doesn't allow this to work unless you subscribe to outside accounts and have forwarding to your mail server accounts.. creates a nightmare for administration and things like anti-virus or anti-spam filtering won't work as well as trying to keep the accounts from overflow (size limits on providers accounts).

Again, if this is what you want however, you simply have your mail delivered to outside accounts (that have webmail access) and each of these accounts have forwarding (keeping mail there) to their internal accounts usinga  dummy domain (inside.mydomain.com).

Truly if you want that kind of redundancy, either put your server in a data centre or subscribe and only use external mail services. You can get exchange accounts from providers.
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giltjr earned 250 total points
ID: 17169067
To be honest, I don't think I have ever heard of somebody offering something like this.  It gets real complicated.

From a business point of view you have some coordination issue.  There are two issues when attempting to do what you want.

Say your primary e-mail server is down and you are reading e-mail from the backup.  When the primary comes backup, and all of the e-mail is then forwarded to the primary, it will appear to be all "new" mail unread by you.  So you have to figure out which e-mails you have already "processed".  Second issue is that if you send e-mail out while using the backup e-mail, you will need to copy yourself into the e-mail to see it when the primary comes backup, and then it will look like you sent yourself e-mail, because you did.  The primary will NOT forward e-mail you sent OUT from the backup to the primary, because e-mail does not work that way.

You would almost need to do a Exchange cluster over a WAN link, but because you are using the Internet, that will cause lots of problems because of delays.

I agree with nexusds, you basically need to:

     1) Move your e-mail server to someplace that has more reliable Internet connectivity
     2) Subscribe to an e-mail server service which basically does #1, but you don't have to manage the box
     3) Move up to the big leagues of Internet connectivity and get real dedicated circuits with backup/redundancy options.
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