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Old Jul 12, 2010, 06:46 AM   #1
PDE
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Problem with Mail.app, too many IMAP connections and Hostgator

My webhost, Hostgator, recently switched off my email without warning because it claimed I had too much imap email (3.5gb) and that it was causing a slowdown for other users on the server. This came as a surprise given that I've had no issues for several years and nor have they, apparently. After further discussion with their tech support, they seem to think that Mail.app is the culprit because it opens 'too many' concurrent imap connections. They insist that Apple Mail is not 'standards compliant' and that I should use another client, like Thunderbird.

The problem is, I'm very happy with Mail and don't want to switch to Thunderbird or any other client. I've tried them all and always want to get back to Mail. Normally I would switch providers before I switch my own setup or habits that I'm happy with, but I really like hostgator and would like to try to make it work.

My questions:

1. Is Apple Mail behaving in a way that is not compliant with imap standards?
2. Would this be a problem with other shared hosts?
3. Is there any way to control the number of imap connections made concurrently, in a way similar to thunderbird?
4. Any other way around this problem ?

Thanks for any input!
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Old Jul 12, 2010, 07:16 AM   #2
Tex-Twil
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Hi,
I have never heard of Mail having those problems. Also, there is no imap specification which says how many connection there should be.

I also see that what your provider says is not coherent. 1st they say that it is because of the size of your imap mailbox (3.5 GB) then they say that it's because of the number of connections.


What you can try to do is to set how often Mail check for emails (in the Mail Preferences). But I doubt that this will change anything.

You can also try Network Monitor sidekick to see how many connection there are when you click "check for mails". In my case (10.6.4) I had only one.


Tex
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Old Jul 12, 2010, 07:37 AM   #3
PDE
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I think what they meant was that because of the size of my email directory, Mail establishes more and longer connections. Does that make sense technologically? I specifically asked if there was a limit to how big the imap directory could be and was told that there isn't, but that when it causes trouble for others on the server they will shut it down. Not helpful. I don't know much about the intricacies of IMAP so it's hard to engage in an argument...

Thanks for the links. I downloaded it and does seem that there is only one connection to my webhost when I fetch email with Mail. It shows quick activity and then stable inactivity, so I really don't know what they are referring to. You're right that there is something inconsistent with their point.

Hmm...
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Old Jul 12, 2010, 07:59 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PDE View Post
I think what they meant was that because of the size of my email directory, Mail establishes more and longer connections. Does that make sense technologically?
The only problem that I can think of is when you first time download all your messages after you set up the account.

When you then just check for new messages, the client asks the server which says whether or not there are some. So the communication is very short and the previous mail (your 3.5 GB) are not involved.

You could though switch to Thunderbird for some days just to see if your provider will notice any difference.
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Old Jul 12, 2010, 08:10 AM   #5
Mal
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Try just increasing the timeframe between Mail checking for new messages. I have run into problems with Earthlink and Yahoo both rejecting connections because there had been too many within a certain timeframe. Setting it to check every 15 minutes instead of every 5 usually solved the issues.

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Old Jul 12, 2010, 08:33 AM   #6
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thanks guys. Yeah, that's what I assumed too -- that Mail just asks for information about new mail and then retrieves it if there is any, rather than having to establish connections with all mailboxes.

I'm going to start by increasing the checking interval and, if my host still has a problem, I'll try Thunderbird to see if that makes a difference.

Thanks again,

PDE
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Old Jul 13, 2010, 03:17 AM   #7
PDE
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I just logged into hostgator's Cpanel and noticed something interesting. When I look under current processes on my account, I notice that when I open Mail, I am using four processes, while with Thunderbird I only use one. Mail will keep the connections open but not use any CPU, while Thunderbird's one connection uses CPU cycles all the time. The problem is that friends and family also use my domain for email together with Apple Mail. Hostgator only allows 25 processes at a time, which means that if 6 people are checking email we'll already be maxed out.

In other words, the problem is that Hostgator gives you unlimited EVERYTHING but then limits processes. That kind of defeats the purpose of going unlimited, doesn't it?
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Old Jul 13, 2010, 03:40 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PDE View Post
I just logged into hostgator's Cpanel and noticed something interesting. When I look under current processes on my account, I notice that when I open Mail, I am using four processes, while with Thunderbird I only use one. Mail will keep the connections open but not use any CPU, while Thunderbird's one connection uses CPU cycles all the time. The problem is that friends and family also use my domain for email together with Apple Mail. Hostgator only allows 25 processes at a time, which means that if 6 people are checking email we'll already be maxed out.

In other words, the problem is that Hostgator gives you unlimited EVERYTHING but then limits processes. That kind of defeats the purpose of going unlimited, doesn't it?
Interesting. So it looks like Mail is really using more connections but I still think that this is normal.

The problem is, as you said, when more people connect to your domain's email addresses. You should check with your domain provider what to do. I'd say using Thunderbird is not a solution. In theory, you could also have more that 26 inboxes for *@yourdomain.com which would also max out the limit set by your provider.

You should also check what your contract for your domain says about the number of email addresses.
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Old Sep 10, 2010, 03:54 PM   #9
JPamplin
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I'm having exactly this same issue with HostGator. Within cPanel, you can see the processes go up and down rapidly when Mail.app is open. I have some ideas...

- For non-essential email accounts, register them in GMail (which can check several accounts for you and present them in a single account). I don't know if GMail differentiates them in any way or not.

- Move to POP, leaving them on the server for 30 days. Again, I have no idea if POP would only use one process per account vs. 4 for IMAP. Yes, it sucks that your sent mail isn't stored on the server, but if you use one machine primarily, it's not TOO bad as long as you have backups.

- Check less IMAP accounts in Mail.app, and move less essential accounts to Thunderbird, then keep two open. I know, that sucks, but what choices do we have here?

- Create your less-important accounts (if you have several for the same person) as forwarders within Hostgator, so that less accounts are checked.

Can anyone tell me for certain that IDLE being checked HELPS or DOES NOT HELP? I can't get a straight answer.

Thanks, all,

JP
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Old May 15, 2011, 05:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JPamplin View Post
I'm having exactly this same issue with HostGator. Within cPanel, you can see the processes go up and down rapidly when Mail.app is open. I have some ideas...

- For non-essential email accounts, register them in GMail (which can check several accounts for you and present them in a single account). I don't know if GMail differentiates them in any way or not.

- Move to POP, leaving them on the server for 30 days. Again, I have no idea if POP would only use one process per account vs. 4 for IMAP. Yes, it sucks that your sent mail isn't stored on the server, but if you use one machine primarily, it's not TOO bad as long as you have backups.

- Check less IMAP accounts in Mail.app, and move less essential accounts to Thunderbird, then keep two open. I know, that sucks, but what choices do we have here?

- Create your less-important accounts (if you have several for the same person) as forwarders within Hostgator, so that less accounts are checked.

Can anyone tell me for certain that IDLE being checked HELPS or DOES NOT HELP? I can't get a straight answer.

Thanks, all,

JP
Disabling IDLE - DOES NOT WORK... I've been doing a lot of reading in Apple Support and this seems to be a bug in Mail.app for 7 year now... but since this is not one of that things that makes the life from the people who ae moving from windows to mac these days easier, Apple doesn't even care about it.

It's a shame for Apple, everyone is using clouds and information available in a server across multiple devices. This bug is present in all Apple products like OSX and iOS for both iPhone and iPad.

Using POP3 is not a solution today... like I said we need data available across multiple devices Translation: We need to make Apple fix this or use thunderbird, so let's report this huge bug o Apple all of us... maybe they hear...

About HostGator stuff... I've been a client of HostGator for some years now, and their service is quite good but you need to use it wisely and respect other users in the servers... well 25 connections is something it can work for a person or two using mail in the server, but let's be serious, we are talking about cheap hosting! No miracles with cheap stuff...

Anyway, I'm running an in-house sever in my company now and we use VPNs and bla bla bla... and some Macs and iPhones as IMAP clients... and this problem really annoys me and my IT department a lot, there are always lot's of busy sockets in my server due to this little Apple Mail.app problem... Apple should really get their hands on this because... really... my server have more sockets and connections to manage... Now I've my firewall killing that connections but it's a solution far from good...
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Old Mar 20, 2012, 01:34 AM   #11
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Suggestion, from another host's tech support

This is an old forum thread, but it's still indexed in Google and high in the results for the issue.

I work as tech support for two hosting companies (not including hostgator, but I'm not going to release which ones) and I figured I'd update the world on this -

1. Is Apple Mail behaving in a way that is not compliant with imap standards?

YES. Very much so. All apple products are abusive to IMAP servers. While Mac mail opens more connections than are necessary even when not malfunctioning, I've actually encountered some customers before whose Mac Mail clients decided to go nuts and open a jaw dropping 480 or so connections, before finally halting courier, the imap server software. (This was on VPS hosting, which had a very high limit) It's sort of ridiculous actually, since I've programmed IMAP software in Java which performed better.

2. Would this be a problem with other shared hosts?

Yes. No question about it.

3. Is there any way to control the number of imap connections made concurrently, in a way similar to thunderbird?

Not that I have found so far, sorry. I bet i could find a mac mail hack to make it happen, but I don't have a mac to tinker with. I use Linux only...

4. Any other way around this problem ?

Here's the good news: YES

If you reconfigure Mac Mail to use POP3, you can instruct Mac Mail to leave a copy of the messages on the server, so that Mac Mail behaves as if it was connecting using IMAP, minus a few insignificant features.

To configure POP3 to leave messages on the server in Mac Mail
1. Go to Mail -> Preferences
2. Click the accounts tab, then the account on the left, then the advanced sub-tab
3. UNcheck "Remove copy from server after retrieving a message"

*For the sake of having mercy on tier 1 tech support, using another email program is also a nice alternative. (I can't say I didn't try)

Last edited by keiran230; Mar 20, 2012 at 01:35 AM. Reason: sentence structure
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Old Mar 30, 2012, 12:38 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keiran230 View Post
...
If you reconfigure Mac Mail to use POP3, you can instruct Mac Mail to leave a copy of the messages on the server, so that Mac Mail behaves as if it was connecting using IMAP, minus a few insignificant features.
...
POP3 is not IMAP minus a few insignificant features. POP3 is missing a lot of important features when compared ti IMAP, especially if you check mail with more than one method or computer/device.

Also, you state that Apple Mail is not compliant with standards but don't explain which standards it's not compliant with.
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Old Apr 4, 2012, 05:24 AM   #13
hanguolaohu
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POP3 in 2012?!

POP3?! Please! Who wants to use POP3 in this "Cloud" world we now live in when compared to IMAP?

I had the exact same issue with Host Gator for months and the only solution the offered was:

A. Use Thunderbird
B. Use dedicated VPS hosting

I've decided to switch to Media Temple, where they assured me I would not run into this problem. So long Host Gator, it was nice while it lasted.
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Old Apr 25, 2013, 06:45 PM   #14
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yeah, this is so unforgiveable both in terms of Mac letting this hang around but also in terms of how HG handles this. i ran into this problem after having researched web hosts for a couple of months and then settling on HG. shortly after moving to HG i decided to launch my website and shortly after i sent out this email i found out about this problem (i.e. my site was shutdown for a reason i didn't understand). adding insult to injury was my attempt to try (over the course of two weeks) to get this fixed by changing mac mail settings and by talking to countless HG customer support people.

ALSO, i have seven email accounts on the site i moved and i have THREE devices. mac mail has about 20+ different entries for EACH email address i want to access which makes for 60 ++ entries for /just/ the site that i moved to HG. that is if you can navigate the ridiculously complicated and incorrectly worded prompts (i.e. "optional" listed when it is NOT an optional entry or "name" when they really need an email ADDRESS).

i love HG and i love mac but i would suggest the following:

1. mac mail should fix this ridiculously complicated UI and/or make settings on my mac pro portable to my macbook pro or vice versa (at a minimum).

2. hostgator should get off their high horse and acknowledge that this is ALSO a hostgator problem. their tier 1 support level does not understand this problem a lick and i spent the better part of two weeks trying to fix settings based upon their suggestions. also, i don't believe this is solely a Mail issue. if i put all my email accounts in TB or Sparrow or some other email client i found that this also shut down my site.

3. since i NEVER had a problem at my previous host - hostgator should get a clue and help out customers that sign up for their service in good faith. this amounts to a bait and switch without alerting prospective customers to this problem (i love their people but i absolutely hate the fact that i have had to stumble through this at a very inconvenient time) - - and they should at least allow me 50 processes or something so my site is not shut down with a ridiculously low level of usage. i have am the only person that accesses my email and i am totally furious that they keep saying that this is an unreasonable usage. if i got this usage out of my previous host without this problem then what is the utility of continuing to blame mac mail even if it is not optimized for this issue. i have a site. i have email. BOTH have to work.

4. finally, for those hacking through this i suggest the following: A. create an "all@mydomain.com" for each of your sites and enter ONLY this email address into Mac Mail on your various devices. B. get into the hostgator control panel (find the email forwarder section and call HG to figure out how to use it because it is a bit clunky) and FORWARD each of your email addresses to this "all" email account. this will let you access all of your email from Mac mail in bulk for each domain. this will also mean you only have to HACK through the forest of settings in Mac Mail /once/ for each domain. C. download sparrow and add all the /individual/ addresses so you have a client that will let you see each individual email address. the drawback here is that you will not be able to respond in mac mail from a particular email address and if you d/l the free version of sparrow you won't be able to enter a signature unless you pay for the paid version. the /upside/ is that Sparrow is about 10X as fast as mac in recognizing incoming email and in sending email and it is about 10X as easy to enter an email address into Sparrow than into Mac Mail. also, the ability to add an icon for each address is uber helpful.

if mac mail could get this right i would pay for the software. if hostgator could get this right i would consider upgrading to additional services. as it is now i am considering if i have the time in the future to switch to a new host based solely upon this problem. again i have found the HG folks awesome but the way this issue is handled for such a CRITICAL (!!!!!) problem really has me steamed.

peace out
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Old Apr 25, 2013, 07:57 PM   #15
hanguolaohu
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Amazing that in 2013 Host Gator still has not resolved this issue for Mac users.
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Old May 3, 2013, 10:37 AM   #16
fredbradley
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Problem still exists

This thread still gets strong results in Google Ranking for this question.

I wanted to update that today (May 2013) I have just ran into the same problem with a client that uses SiteGround shared hosting.

So now we're having to decided:

1. Move the email elsewhere (GoogleApps?)
2. Upgrade the plan to VPS or Dedicated.
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Old May 31, 2013, 04:17 PM   #17
ColgateMinuette
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hanguolaohu View Post
Amazing that in 2013 Host Gator still has not resolved this issue for Mac users.
As it has been said repeatedly in this post, this is a persistent client-side issue that has been in Mac Mail for 7 years now. There is nothing on the server side that HostGator or any other webhost could do to resolve the CLIENT-SIDED issue, save for regularly killing off unnecessary duplicate IMAP processes. I would recommend taking this issue to Apple, but 7 years worth of complaints was not worth them fixing it, so I doubt one more would help.

Sincerely,
A disgruntled HostGator Administrator who is just as fed up with the issue as all of you =_=

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Quote:
Originally Posted by fredbradley View Post
This thread still gets strong results in Google Ranking for this question.

I wanted to update that today (May 2013) I have just ran into the same problem with a client that uses SiteGround shared hosting.

So now we're having to decided:

1. Move the email elsewhere (GoogleApps?)
2. Upgrade the plan to VPS or Dedicated.
I would personally recommend moving to GoogleApps. There is no sense in paying all that extra money for a VPS or dedicated server for the sake of an email client.
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Old May 31, 2013, 06:05 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fredbradley View Post
This thread still gets strong results in Google Ranking for this question.

I wanted to update that today (May 2013) I have just ran into the same problem with a client that uses SiteGround shared hosting.

So now we're having to decided:

1. Move the email elsewhere (GoogleApps?)
2. Upgrade the plan to VPS or Dedicated.
How often do you have Mail set to check for new mail? If it is set to less than 5 minutes, a lot of imap servers will run into issues.
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