March 27, 2009
I switched my company to Google Apps for Your Domain, Standard Edition, not quite a year ago. There are many reasons to love it. There are many who are very wary about it, some with legitimate complaints, others not so much. On the legitimate side are concerns about privacy and security, most of which I think border on the ultra-paranoid. Don't get me wrong, some people have genuine reasons to be paranoid, and not all of them are pornographers. Still, for me and my clients, those concerns are in the realm of the extreme. Overall I have enjoyed being a Google Apps user. In fact, when there have been downtimes (4 hours one time), I have actually been encouraged that I have not been the only one who has had issues with hosting email!
Now on to my cautionary tale. About two weeks ago my wife and I realized that we were no longer getting faxes via email. My office accepts faxes and sends them to an email group that consists of my wife's and my email addresses. I checked the folder where the computer stores new faxes, and sure enough, there were several faxes we had missed. (Now, I know, I know, why in the world are we still getting faxes? Well, SOMEONE has to get the junk vacation, timeshare and benefits faxes, right?) For all intents and purposes, it appeared that the group simply wasn't working. Test emails were not going through to it -- unless I emailed the group directly from my (member) address. The group settings indicated that anyone could send it email -- so I was stumped.
Today I figured it out. In researching this on the web, I saw some comments about Google spam filtering group email BEFORE delivery to group members. Where do those filtered emails go? Nowhere. This is a change Google made, probably about March 1st. Prior to that, my faxes would sometimes land in my junk folder, but after that they just went off into la la land.
What is worse, is that my brother's company new-leads email address, you know the one the website sends new leads to, started doing the same thing. That has resulted in three weeks of lost leads, which is potentially 4 a day, which is potentially 84 lost leads. He is a realtor, so even if one of those leads converted, you are talking a lot of lost revenue.
Now, both of these email addresses were being used by web servers. The sending addresses were "legit," but Google seems to be cracking down on non-mail servers sending mail. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I hate spam, on the other, it is unreasonable to expect the mail server of your own domain not to send email. There are DNS tools to indicate who are the legitimate senders of mail, and they are good things, but I won't go into that here, mainly because it doesn't address all of the potential troubles and won't until it is required for mail delivery, which isn't happening any time soon.
In the case of my fax problem, I simply have the fax computer send the faxes to our individual addresses. And we retrieved the "lost" faxes from the archive folder. In the case of my brother, well, he's hosed. I have converted his leads address to a nickname, so now it can only go to one person, but that's a lot better than going to no person.
The take-away here is that if you have emails going to a Google Apps group address, where those emails might come from your web servers, or they are mission critical, you need to have a backup. If nothing else, BCC the emails to a real account, as well as the group. You might get duplicates, but that is better than getting squat.