The Devver Blog

A Boulder startup improving the way developers work.

Crappy email filtering on GoDaddy

People are complaining that GoDaddy censored a security site, bid against customers in domain auctions (more), and totally screwed up .me registrations. There’s even an entire site dedicated to exposing GoDaddy’s problems.

We had been lucky enough to never really have any problems with them. Since everything worked for us (even though we hated their UI with a passion) we have stuck around. Moving 20+ domains to another registrar just seems like a hassle. We run most of our services on our own server so we didn’t think we had much of a problem.

One service we didn’t run was our own mail servers. We didn’t want to use GoDaddy’s webmail, but thought just having GoDaddy forward mail would work fine. We forwarded all mail to our Gmail accounts, and after that it was simple to send and receive from Gmail, essentially taking GoDaddy out of the picture. We had run GoDaddy email forwarding for a few sites for over a year with no problems.

In the last couple months we started having problems with our email. We were getting reports from friends having problems emailing us. People were receiving random bounced emails, some emails when retried never would reach us, others would arrive successfully the second try. We were concerned but the issue seemed to occur rarely and usually simply resending would solve the problem.

Then it seems the problem got worse. After sending out an email and not hearing back, we received emails explaining that every time anyone responded to our last email it would bounce back. The bounce message warned that the message was a spam or virus and it would not be delivered. Hmmm… not good. We looked into it and found that we couldn’t send the original email to each other, without getting bounced error responses either. The email include a video link to download our presentation from DropBox, which GoDaddy filtered as spam. We had the same issue receiving responses to emails with RightScale’s developers. After making sure I hadn’t accidentally turned on any spam protection for our forwarded email accounts I called GoDaddy support.

Convincing GoDaddy that emails were being marked as spam by their servers, as opposed to other email servers took awhile. Finally after talking to internal GoDaddy tech support they acknowledged it was their email system. They explained that all emails including forwarding accounts go through a GoDaddy-wide spam and virus scanner which won’t let anything flagged through. I explained I wanted to disable their filtering and trust Google to do my spam filtering for me after my mail is forwarded. This was not an option as the shared filter is in place for all GoDaddy email. I then asked about the criteria of flagging emails, which I know in our case contained no spam links or viruses. I was told that if a single virus or spam message was sent from a domain it would block all emails linking to that domain. This is clearly a bad policy.

Blocking all of DropBox is an example of why this shared filter is bound to block valid emails. DropBox allows any arbitrary files to be uploaded by users, of course some virus-infected file has ended up on their domain. After some virus-infected file hosted on DropBox was emailed to a GoDaddy user, it was added to the blocked domain list for GoDaddy’s email filter. As a result we can never mail a presentation video file hosted on DropBox.

That’s pretty amazing, but the best part is there is simply no way to opt out. There was no way to get domains removed from their blacklist. One of the scariest things about this is that they only filter incoming mail, so we can email out supposedly virus-filled emails, but then if anyone hits reply it will bounce because our link will be a part of the response message. This leaves the sender blind to the problem. Who knows how many people we have emailed in the last 3 months that tried and failed to ever respond to us.

After learning all of this, I did the only reasonable thing. I switched mail providers so our email wouldn’t touch GoDaddy at all. We are now hosting email accounts with Gmail for your domain. It was easy enough to set up, and we have already seen that we can send supposedly risky emails through our new email servers. I guess I should start listening to everyone’s horror stories about GoDaddy and the next time I purchase a domain, I can slowly start moving away from the terrible beast.


Written by DanM

July 22, 2008 at 3:22 pm

Posted in Misc, Tips & Tricks

12 Responses

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  1. Hi, this is Connie from Network Solutions. Dan, thanks for this thorough write up of GoDaddy’s services. We’re always paying attention to feedback like this from our own clients at Network Solutions so we can create better products. This community is important to us. Best wishes.

    Connie Bensen

    July 23, 2008 at 6:12 am

  2. Connie,
    thanks for responding. Like I said we have heard of many other GoDaddy problems but this was the first to effect us. Fixing this would be a great step in the right direction.

    Dan Mayer

    July 23, 2008 at 6:33 am

  3. With all due respect to Connie, Network Solutions has been the a thorn in my side for years. NS pricing is much more than GoDaddy, they charge for basic domain forwarding, and the phone support has been subpar. NS saying that they "create better products" makes me laugh.

    David Walsh

    July 24, 2008 at 2:20 pm

  4. Oh, and don't forget NetSol reserving domains that users looked up using their domain lookups. I have no vested interest in GoDaddy, but NetSol is no better than GoDaddy.

    David Walsh

    July 24, 2008 at 2:23 pm

  5. I'm not getting many e-mails going through Go Daddy starting last night. I've complained many times over the last two years about e-mails here and there getting bounced but they give me the usual run around. I'm gonna have to do what you are and switch to a different e-mail provider. I can't be losing this many e-mails


    July 28, 2008 at 1:37 am

  6. GoDaddy is now blocking my automated itinerary and receipts that come from Delta. ????

    How on earth did Delta get flagged by the spam filter?

    I've tested and my gmail, mac and alltel accounts all receive just fine from Delta, but nothing from our domain hosted by GoDaddy.

    Any suggestions for dealing with them?


    August 7, 2008 at 7:44 am

  7. Do what we are doing and find a different mail server.They aren't going to do anything about it.


    October 15, 2008 at 11:27 am

  8. An Dan, to make things worse, if you have a dedicated server with GD and want to send emails using an external account, the port 25 is blocked! So basically the email communication is impossible. I'm really considering moving my server to another host.

    Diego Banuelos

    October 18, 2008 at 2:35 am

  9. I would recommend ServerBeach I have hosted with them for a long time and they have been an excellent dedicated host. I also think DreamHost is very good if you want a cheaper shared server experience.

    To everyone finding this post, we have been really happy that we moved our email to Google hosted mail, it has worked very well for us.


    October 18, 2008 at 3:52 am

  10. Since you are talking about, I'll also list a couple recent findings for Godaddy promo codes. I am a J2EE Programmer, and these coupons come in very handy when purchasing or renewing a domain. Use Godaddy promo code ZINE3 for $7.49 .com domains and renewals. I save about $35 every time I purchase a bunch of domains. When I buy at least 5 domain names, I also get free private registration when I use ZINE3. For other Godaddy coupons, use ZINE1 for 10% off, ZINE2 for $5 off any $30+ purchase, and ZINE25 for $25 off any purchase of $100 or more, like hosting plans. These promo codes are current, working, and do not expire. Hopefully these Godaddy coupon codes save just as much loot for the other subscribers as they have for my web site projects. Rock on!
    -Tonette from Eureka, MI.

    Tonette Tilley

    December 10, 2008 at 8:40 am

  11. We're having horrendous experiences with Godaddy email. The filters they apply to all incoming email – so they say – automatically exclude not just emails from blacklisteddomains, but even emails containing a link to any such domains. And when I say exclude, this does not always mean bounce; some emails are just eliminated. Godaddy's filter list is provided by Spamhaus, but they filter out email not just from the blacklisted URLs, but from any domain that has the misfortune to be hosted on an IP containing a blacklisted URL. There may be 4000 domains hosted on one IP – but if just 1 of these is listed with Spamhaus, Godaddy blocks emails from the lot. Furthermore, they block emails not just from any such domains, but also ones containing links to any sites on the IP concerned. In addition, they block all email from or linking to any site whose reverse DNS is wrong. Godaddy's technical team has stated all of this to us in writing.
    No business can afford to work with this kind of email service, since, as in our case, there is the risk that customer orders, enquiries and queries will simply vanish into nothing. it is not just customer orders that we risk losing if our email service works in this manner; it is the customers themselves that we are losing (or simply not acquiring) when their emails never get replied to.


    December 20, 2008 at 3:55 pm

  12. I also noticed that all email sent from my email account will bounce back when sent to any email account that managed under Godaddy. I tested this with 5 clients which all have emails under Godaddy and all failed. I also tested this with an email that I have under Godaddy account (sending to myself on another account). Every other email sent from my account to any other network is just fine.
    Good Job godaddy you managed to block innocent emails while all spams get through to my Godaddy accounts. You should be awarded for best filtering system on planet!


    October 27, 2009 at 7:04 am

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