myfiles.messagingengine.com convenience site

While it’s necessary to have the full filesystem tree available for things like sharing files and accessing temporary items, most of the time you only want to deal with the files under the {My Files} view similarly to the Files tab in the web interface.

The new hostname “myfiles.messagingengine.com” allows you do do exactly that.  You can access it via DAV or FTP, and when you log in (still using your full username@domain and password) the top directory is your {My Files}.  We still have the dav.messagingengine.com and ftp.messagingengine.com names for when you need the full power of the virtual filesystem, but for ease of use, myfiles.messagingengine.com will save some typing!

Of course, it works fine via SSL as well.

Enjoy.

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Special SSL hostname for old clients

Well after upgrading our SSL configuration yesterday, it turns out that it seems there’s still a few email clients out there that only support the old SSLv2 standard, the most notable one being chatteremail. Chatteremail is no longer being updated, but it’s still a great IMAP client for older Palm phones and used by a lot of people.

Because of that, I’ve created a special hostname that can be used by users having problems with the upgraded SSL protocol. For those users, you just need to change your email software so rather than using mail.messagingengine.com as the server name, you use insecuressl.messagingengine.com instead. The name is explicitly messy to make sure that people realise this isn’t a recommended hostname, it’s only something to use if absolutely needed and it does carry security implications (SSLv2 has some known vulnerabilities)

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New Home/Login Page on beta

 

Although we changed it less than 6 months ago, and despite it being a big improvement over the old home page, we haven’t been 100% happy with our new home/login page. There wasn’t enough information “above the fold” for new customers looking to signup.

So we’ve been experimenting with some layout changes that we’ve currently put on our beta server at http://www.fastmail.fm/beta/.

For existing customers, there’s little to no difference. The login box is still near the top on the right hand side. For new customers though, we believe this page contains more relevant information in a more concise form.

Comments welcome, please send them to jackm@fastmail.fm

 

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SSL security updated

Due to a recently discovered SSL man-in-the-middle flaw, I’ve upgraded our web, IMAP and POP proxy servers to disable SSL renegotiation.

At the same time, I’ve disabled SSLv2 protocol (it’s been deprecated 1996) and disabled all “LOW” and “EXPORT” ciphers.

In theory, there should be no user visible changes, but some very, very old email clients or browsers may experience problems. Unfortunately in those cases, people are either going to have to use non-SSL access, or upgrade their email client/browser to a newer version.

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Using the BCC and SMTP Copy Features

The great thing about IMAP is that all your email is stored centrally on the FastMail servers.  The biggest advantage is that you can see your Inbox, Sent, and other folders from any location.  This includes the web interface, your favorite email program or mobile device.   Unfortunately, some email applications don’t have great support for saving the email you send through the FastMail server.

Many newer email clients (Microsoft’s Mail, Apple Mail, Thunderbird, Outlook 2007) all support saving to a Sent Items folder.  Unfortunately, if you are using an older version of Outlook, or perhaps a mobile device) they do not support this capability.  That would mean that all your email sent from Outlook never gets saved to our server.  (This is also important if you use POP, because rarely do these programs allow saving to a server)

Fortunately, we’ve got an easy way to enable this.  It saves you email bandwidth as well (even if you are using an email client that supports saving to Sent).

How does this work?  By using a feature in the FastMail Personalities option page.

  1. Log into the FastMail web interface
  2. Go to the Options, Personalities page
  3. Select the Personality on the left that matches the email address you will be sending from.  In other words, when you setup Outlook, you specify an email address.  Be sure that address is listed here.
  4. Check the “Sent Items on SMTP” and click the Save Personality button.
  5. That’s it.  Now any email program or device that sends via the FastMail SMTP servers will save a copy of outgoing mail in your Sent Items folder.

One note, if you’ve already told the email client to save a copy to the Sent Items folder, enabling this feature would result in 2 copies appearing in the folder.  Be sure to disable this setting in your email client if you intend to take advantage of this feature.

You can also define easy ways to automatically BCC a group of addresses.  Personalities make this very simple to accomplish.

To learn more, I recommend this article

 

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iPhone – How to create multiple From Personalities

FastMail has a great feature called personalities.  This is especially useful if your FastMail account is receiving email for multiple domains.   Unfortunately, Apple’s iPhone and iPodTouch don’t make this capability easy to take advantage of.

Fortunately, this is easy to fix.  The latest iPhone firmware (version 3.x) makes this even simpler due to the inclusion of the copy and paste capabilities.

Apple’s Mail.app program on the Mac has always supported this feature. In Mail.App, you simply separate all of your email addresses with a comma and they act similarly to multiple personalities.
The problem with the iPhone/iPod Touch? The keyboard is modified so that you cannot enter a comma in the email address field. Very frustrating. There are two solutions…

  1. Create your account in Apple’s Mail.App on your Mac with the comma separating the personality email addresses. Then resync your iPhone and choose to migrate the email account information.
  2. The second (and easier solution) is to take advantage of the cut/copy/paste capability in the iPhone 3.x firmware to paste into your settings.

To fix the iPhone directly.

  1. Open Notes, create a new note. Type in your other personality’s email address (without quotes)… ” , me@otherdomain.com “. NOTE the comma, this is the most important part.
  2. Use the tap commands to select all and copy this information to the clipboard
  3. Open up the Settings/Mail, Contacts, Calendar application.
  4. In the IMAP Account Information Field, tap at the end of the Address field and Paste the additional email address. After you’ve done this, your Address field will look something like this: myaddress1@domaina.com, me@otherdomain.com
  5. You have to use this trick to get a comma into that field

When you compose a new email on the iPhone, just click on the “From field” and choose the appropriate address.

 

To learn more how to configure the iPhone to work with FastMail, read this article.

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Western Digital RE4-GP 2TB drive problems and solutions

We recently upgraded the drives in a few of our servers to new WD RE4-GP 2TB drives. Initially these drives worked really well, but after a little time, we noticed that the RAID controller they were connected to (an ARECA based controller) was reporting a significantly higher number of "read timeout" errors for these drives (a few per day, rather than "every now and then" as for all other drives).

Looking around, we found other reports of problems with these drives and RAID controllers, although ours weren’t as serious as the other reports, drives weren’t "dropping" out of our arrays, just more read timeouts. In one of the comments posted on that blog, a user notes there’s an upgraded firmware for the WD drives that helped him.

Searching around, I also found out about the firmware update in the knowledge base on the 3ware site, from 04.05G04 to 04.05G05. It seems they are also recommending it for compatibility with their RAID controllers, and include a copy of the new firmware there (with all the usual disclaimers of course). Unfortunately the process to upgrade the firmware requires attaching the drive directly to a motherboard SATA controller and running a DOS only utility. To do that for the 24 drives would be a slow and annoying process.

Fortunately it turns out that modern SATA drives now have a standard process for upgrading the firmware, so it’s actually possible for this to be done via the RAID controller rather than requiring a custom upgrade program. With some help from our vendor (thanks Hao Zhang at e23 Inc) and ARECA, they were able to build the new firmware file into a format suitable for upload to their RAID controllers. So we did that, rebooted the unit, and a few minutes later, all the drives in the unit had been upgraded to the newer 04.05G05 firmware. Nice and quick and easy. (Sorry, we can’t distribute this file, so please don’t ask us. Contact your vendor to get it if you need it)

Since then, there’s been no read timeout errors reported by any of the drives, and they’ve continued to work really well.

So if you’re using the WD RE4-GP 2TB drives and having problems, make sure you upgrade them to the latest firmware version.

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Special upgrade price, 3 years for the price of 2 on Ad Free, Full and Enhanced accounts

For the month of November 2009 only, we’re running a special price for personal accounts. All Ad Free, Full and Enhanced accounts are 3 years for the price of 2.

  • Ad free – 1 year = $4.95, 3 years = $9.90
  • Full – 1 year = $19.95, 3 years = $39.90
  • Enhanced – 1 year = $39.95, 3 years = $79.90

Existing users can upgrade or renew any existing account with this special price just by going to Options -> Upgrade screen and following the steps to upgrade/renew. Any existing subscription will be pro-rated toward the new subscription.

New users can also take advantage of this special by signing up a free Guest account, and then using the above steps to upgrade it.

Update: Corrected price on Ad free

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Increased mailbox quota for accounts

Over the weekend, we’ve rolled out an increase to mailbox quotas to all accounts (except Guest and Member). These new quotas are effective immediately for all existing accounts, and all new signups and upgrades.

Personal accounts

  • Ad free – 50M (was 30M)
  • Full – 800M (was 600M)
  • Enhanced – 8G (was 6G)

Business accounts

  • Basic – 80M (was 60M)
  • Standard – 1G (was 800M)
  • Professional – 10G (was 8G)

Family accounts

  • Lite – 50M (was 30M)
  • Everyday – 600M (was 400M)
  • Superior – 6G (was 4G)

Guest and Member accounts are unchanged. File storage quotas are unchanged.

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