Email Service Providers
Here are some companies that provide excellent email services and do not have some common problems that make working with forwarded mail difficult.  More suggestions are welcome in all categories.  See also http://emaildiscussions.com  for discussions of various mail services.

The most common problem for incoming mail is not allowing a recipient to "whitelist" a forwarder that the recipient has set up, risking mishandling of messages that have already been cleared by the forwarder.  Even with spam filtering set to a minimum, forwarded messages can disappear without notice to either sender or recipient.  Spam filtering should be done just once, at the server which first receives the mail (the "Border MTA").

Most recipients use a server at their own company as their forwarding address, and whitelisting is not usually a problem with them.  The problem is usually with the large, inflexible mail services that cannot handle individual options, and may not want to whitelist a forwarder for all million of their recipients.  Most services allow you to turn off spam filtering for your entire account, so one "inelegant" solution to this problem is set up a new account with a private name just to store your forwarded mail.

Another problem for incoming mail is lack of ability to sort the mail based on headers provided by your forwarder.  Typically, you will want to sort your incoming mail into at least three folders: your inbox for whitelisted mail, a [spam] folder for mail that you probably don't even want to look at before discarding, and a [quarantine] folder for that small fraction of the mail that was not whitelisted, but did get a low score from the spam filters.

Most recipients can sort mail in their own email programs, but sorting is best done at the server, avoiding the need to download huge quantities of spam that you will never look at anyway.  My preferred setup is to automatically download everything in my inbox, leaving the spam and quarantine on the server.  I check the quarantine once a day to move selected messages to my inbox, and on occasions when I suspect a message was lost, check the spam folder.

The most common problem for outgoing mail is restrictions on return addresses.  The problem is lack of security in keeping your real email address private when sending to an untrusted recipient.  You should be able to set up an alias, and have that alias used in both the "envelope" and "header" fields of your outgoing mail.  There should be no "leakage" of your real identity in anything that goes to the recipient.


Recommended Email Service ProvidersRecommended Incoming Email Service Providers
  • burntmail.com - $15/year.  Webmail, POP3 and IMAP, 1GB storage, Outgoing via webmail only.
Recommended Outgoing Email Service Providers
  • yahoo.com - huge sender with a good reputation for outgoing mail.
  • controlledmail.com - strong authentication, no cross-user forgery. Return addresses limited to one per account.
DNS Service Providers
Here are some companies that provide excellent domain-name services and do not have some common problems encountered at the large registrars and hosting services that provide DNS as a neglected add-on.  The most common problem is not supporting TXT records.  Almost all authentication methods require TXT records, and you should expect an easy interface allowing you to edit those records as your authentication needs change.Hosting Services
Unless you are a big company, it just doesn't make sense to provide your own hardware and basic system software.  On the other hand, we don't want the one-size fits all webhosting service where they take care of everything, but you control nothing.  Our clients are typically system admins for small or medium-size businesses, who are actively involved in setting up their companies' mail systems.  They need root access to their own dedicated server.

A good hosting company should provide very reliable servers in a secure, well-connected location, with 24/7 maintenance, uninterruptible power, full-system backups, etc.  In addition, some companies provide technical support for common programs like web servers and mail servers.
Registrars
What could be simpler than a service that just keeps your domain-name in a database, showing that you and nobody else owns that name?  That is what Domain Name Registrars do for typically $10 per name per year - a lucrative business, considering the millions of names in a typical Registrar's database.  Well, as in any business, there are problems, everything from erroneous billings to no response when there is a problem.  We've even heard of one Registrar that simply abandoned its business, leaving millions of registrants without even the ability to move to another Registrar. Here are some Registrar's we have not yet had a problem with.