Fixing emails with blank subject/date/from

Due to an error that occurred when rolling out a new version of our IMAP server software yesterday, some users may have experienced new emails arriving in folders appearing as completely “blank”. These emails would have an empty subject, empty from address and empty/invalid date.

The problem that caused this was not damaging the emails in any way, it was just returning the wrong data back to the email software, and was only present for about 30 minutes. The problem has been fixed, but some email clients (eg Outlook Express, Thunderbird, etc) may continue to cache the old “bad” information on emails that were downloaded during that time.

In most cases, the solution is to just clear the local folder cache, causing the email software to re-download the message list. You can do that by:

  • Outlook Express: In the folder list in the left pane, right-click the folder with the “blank” emails. Select Properties, then the Local file tab, click Delete to force it to re-download the message list
  • Thunderbird: In the folder list in the left pane, right-click the folder with the “blank” emails. Select Properties, then the General Information tab, click Rebuild Index to re-download the message list
Posted in Technical. Comments Off on Fixing emails with blank subject/date/from

Paypal email oddities

As even PayPal themselves acknowledge, PayPal users are subject to a lot of phishing emails. So it’s odd to see a definitely legitimate PayPal email with a bunch of things you’d regard as pretty strange.

  1. Odd header. Looking at the headers of the message, we can see it’s DomainKeys and DKIM signed, but then you have a header like:
    X-XPT-XSL-Name: email_pimp/default/en_AU/transaction/buyer/BuyerRefund.xsl

    Maybe they’re giving away a bit much information about how they feel about the emails they’re sending you

  2. Invalid links. The top of the email contains a “Transaction Id: XXXXXXX” item, with the id itself being a hyperlink. Unfortunately the hyperlink is wrong, and has an href of:

    So clearly the hostname was accidentally left out.

  3. Mixed case inline URL. The message contains a URL to their help page, but the URL isn’t a hyperlink, it’s just text, and they’ve marked up the URL in a very odd way. It looks like:
    Questions? Visit the Help Centre at: https://SECURE.UNINITIALIZED.REAL.PaYpAl.CoM/au/help

Put altogether, it’s a very odd email to receive, and took a moment and a closer check of the headers to believe it was legitimate.

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Problems with buttons on view message screen in IE

Due to a coding error in one of our javascript files that was rolled out about 24 hours ago, users using the new web interface may have experienced problems on the view message screen in Internet Explorer. The most common problem would have been that clicking a button (eg Reply, Forward, etc) would have produced the “Multiple buttons were clicked” error from the server.

A fix for this has been rolled out now, so if you quit & restart Internet Explorer and login again, the problem should be fixed.

We’re implementing a more rigorous “lint” program that will more likely catch these errors before they are rolled out in the future.

Posted in Technical. Comments Off on Problems with buttons on view message screen in IE

Apple Mail getting buggier, use alternate IMAP port

As an IMAP email service provider, it’s always nice when email software that supports IMAP gets better over time.

Unfortunately Apple Mail seems to be doing the opposite. Basically we’re noticing more and more problems with Apple Mail and IMAP support, and particularly with the way Apple Mail deals with the “sub-folders of Inbox” issue. This is slightly strange, given that the IMAP server we use is cyrus, which is the one that actually comes with OS X!

We’re now recommending that Apple Mail users use the alternate namespace IMAP port to reduce the chance of future problems. Please see this blog post for how to change Mail App to use the alternate namespace port.

Update: A user has pointed us to a another blog post that might explain what causes the problem behaviour, and why it only occurs sometimes and for some users. As an alternative to switching to the alternate IMAP port, you might want to try the steps on this page first:

Posted in News, Technical. Comments Off on Apple Mail getting buggier, use alternate IMAP port

Hotmail now offers free POP access

Over the years, Microsoft have allowed on and off access to Hotmail accounts by various different protocols.

For a long time, they allowed access via a system called WebDAV. Since 2000 we have supported pulling email from Hotmail accounts to FastMail via this protocol on the Options -> Pop Links screen by setting the server type to “Hotmail”. In 2004, they stopped new accounts being able to use WebDAV, but allowed old accounts to continue to use it.

In 2006/2007, as part of the migration to the Hotmail Live strategy, they started introducing a new protocol called DeltaSync. This was supposed to replace WebDAV. This protocol is proprietary, and we spent some time trying to reverse engineer it, but even with the help of others, weren’t able to do so.

In April 2008, Microsoft said that they would be closing down WebDAV access for all Hotmail accounts, and that DeltaSync would be the only way to access data in free accounts externally. Only two months later in June 2008, they reversed this decision because of a customer feedback and said WebDAV would remain but with no particular end date.

Now Microsoft have decided to just offer standard POP access to most accounts for free (currently it’s limited to accounts in certain countries, at this time: United States, Brazil, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, Japan, Spain, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands).

So if you want to retrieve emails from a Hotmail account to FastMail, and you are located in one of the above countries, you can just go to Options -> Pop Links, and enter an account with the following details:

  • Type: POP
  • Server:
  • Port: 995
  • User name: your hotmail username including domain (eg,, etc)

Even if you have an old Hotmail account, we recommend using the “POP” server type instead of “Hotmail” server type because it’s likely to be faster and more reliable.

Posted in News. Comments Off on Hotmail now offers free POP access

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