Add-on Domains, Emails & Another Big Learning Experience

I spent much of yesterday working on a new website. In particular, I was working on getting an e-mail form to work within a picture gallery CMS system. My plan was for the form to send the email to a different account on a different domain that I read frequently throughout the day rather than create yet another email I have to check. That’s when the fun started.

I couldn’t get the form to send. Went round and round with it and finally got it working. I logged into the cPanel hosting account and went to the mail area and set up a forward from the account attached to the new site to the other site which happens to be hosted with another company. The forward didn’t work.

OK, so I logged into the email account and set the forward from there. Again, the forward didn’t work.

And then the fun began.

In my frustration, I quickly suspected that the target account was not properly receiving any mail and shot off a trouble ticket to my hosting provider.

To make all this more clear, I have two hosting accounts, one with a company I’ll call hostingA and another with A Small Orange. The hostingA account is where the new site will live as an add-on domain. A Small Orange is where the mail was to be forwarded.

I mention A Small Orange by name because once again their technical support was spot on – they give the kind of technical support I used to give – and are very patient with us old timers who still remember the days before the Internet and more often then not are still bumbling our way along on this new-fangled thing.

There were no indications that the mail wasn’t working right other than the email from hostingA did not get delivered. The originating account never received a bounceback or other error message.

Throughout the night, test messages and the conversations with the support reps continued. And then this old gal remembered the small fact that the receiving email account and it’s domain were once hosted on that account on hostingA. Aha, I thought. Delete the old reference to that email account and we’re in business.

Aha, not so fast said the great computers at both hosting companies. I told A Small Orange of my findings and it’s failure.

Went to bed and hoped a new day would bring new ideas….it did. If the email was still set up on the first hosting account, I realized that so was the add-on domain definition. Makes sense, when I switched the site over to A Small Orange, I left it semi-live on hostingA to limit downtime. I just never turned it off.

Delete the domain as an add-on and shazaaam, I’ve got mail.

So, it would appear because the sending account at hostingA still had the receiving domain defined as an add-on domain it did not know where to actually send the message. I suspect, had it not been deleted in this exercise, the emails would have been patiently sitting there in the old email account defined on that server.

The moral of the story here, when you switch around domains and hosting make sure you go back and clean house.

Hopefully, my little tale of woe and discovery will keep someone else from spending 4-5 hours trying to fix something that’s not really broke but just needs a little housekeeping.

I would also like to thank the folks at A Small Orange for patiently putting up with customers like me.

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