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Godaddy Dedicated Servers equals Low Open Rates on your Email Campaigns

Posted on Sep 10, 2009 by Paul White

In early August I setup a dedicated Server with Godaddy.  Even after reading the negative reviews, on how bad their support is, I decided the savings were worth.  No Contracts, No Setup Fees, why not?  So this is a followup review on Godaddy's Dedicated Servers.  As my first review was after only having the box for a week.  Now that I have been at godaddy for almost 6 weeks I have come to realize where Godaddy is going to loose my Dedicated Server business.

Overall Dedicated Server Hardware and reliability

I have very happy with the setup we got.  It has been stable,  No weird errors in the event logs, and no down time.  Of course not sure if I should be praising Godaddy's Dedicated Server or Windows Server 2008 Standard edition.  I give Godaddy an A+ on the hardware stablity.

Dedicated Server Hardware Options

If you are like me with a few larger clients, the options Godaddy gives you are plenty.  On average I would say my Dedicated Box does about 6 GB of transfer daily.  I am allowed 500 GB per month.  But Godaddy doesn't give you anything too fancy on the hardware side.  SATA hard drives are good for consumer applications, but server applications I would expect some SCSI, SAS or event SSD drive options.  The RAID cards they use are low dollar cheap cards, but they are still better than software RAID management.  They also only support RAID 1 ( Mirroring ), and won't let you have RAID 0 for speed.  Max memory you can get is 8 GB with a 64 bit OS ( linux or Windows Server 2008 x64 ).  Grading Godaddy on their Hardware Options for more advanced users I would give them a C-.  But since only 5 percent of you would need this kind of hardware its nothing to really worry about.

Network Speed

Here I am very happy.  On average I get 50ms ping times from all my Godaddy Shared Hosting and Dedicated Servers.  This is pretty good considering I am in Houston, and Godaddy is in Phoenix.  For speed I give them a B+.  Only because there are faster datacenters.

Running a Mail Server on Godaddy

  ( warning, I am about to rant, small children should leave the room )
First let me begin by stating that if you plan on running a mail server and any kind of bulk email campaign, stay away from godaddy!.  I repeat.


if you have any kind of email list that you will be marketing to.  It doesn't matter if its a clean list of double opt in subscribers.  Get a dedicated Server somewhere else, or buy your own box and colocate it.

Godaddy blocks and meters the out going port 25

( SMTP )
The only way to send email from a dedicated server at Godaddy is to first relay to godaddy's relay gateway.  This is simple for most mail servers.  It took me 2 minutes to configure SmarterMail to use Godaddy's relay.  Your email will then sit in godaddy's queue waiting to go out.  The relay uses several IPs, to ensure if one gets blacklisted, there are still many other IPs that will still have a good reputation.  Now the problem lies in the reputation of the IPs of the relay server.  The last couples blasts I have done on my clients maillist, I have gotten about a dozen bounce backs stating that the IP has been blacklisted.  So essentially you are punished because some other Godaddy customer used the relay for his spam campaign.  I used to get 10-12% confirmed opens from our maillist.  Since moving to godaddy this percentage has dropped to 6-8%.  This is because even though the IPs of the relay server may not be blacklisted, many mail servers will consider then to be not very clean either. So they don't reject the emails, but they don't make it to the user's inbox either.  Most of your emails will go to the users junk / spam folder where it is unlikely to be read. 

Theory on how godaddy's relay really works.

Before we moved to godaddy it was normal on our maillist of 6400, to get a few hundred bounce messages.  These would not be hard bounces, but soft bounces, saying on vacation, or server unavailable right now.  I find it very suspicious that the godaddy relay server does not inform me of the bounce status of my emails.  I suspect that when one of the Godaddy Relay's IPs are blacklisted they just igmore it and move to another IP on their  block.  By not informing their customers that many of the emails never made it out the door, or that IPs on the Relay have a bad reputation, customers never know there is a problem.  If a customer is not aware of a problem they are less likely to leave.  The only way you would know is if you tracked your emails before moving to Godaddy

Another Gripe about the relay server

They initially limit you to 1000 outgoing emails / day.  If you need more than that, you have to put in a request.  The first time I made the request for 10K / day, and they only gave me 5K.  Finally they have upped me to 8K. which works for my purposes, but still it ticks me off that they would micromanage how I use my dedicated server.

Only 1 IP may be used on the relay

Even though they give you 3 IPs,  they will only accept emails to be relayed from 1 of them.  So if you had the idea of setting up your mail server to have a 3 domain's MX records on 3 seperate IPs forget about it.  I already called them and asked, and they said no. 


By November 1st 2009 I plan to buy a server and colocate it here in Houston.  Shopping for a good data center right now.  Level 3 would be nice, but from what I hear most of the service providers at L3 are pricey.  I have found a data center in Downtown Houston, that will colocate for $80 / month with 500 GB transfer.  But their Ping times are 50 ms and for a datacenter that is less than 20 miles away I would expect better.  The real reason its best to get a dedicated server in an data center that won't micromanage how you use your IPs is because it will allow you to build your own reputation for your IPs.  The big mail servers ( Yahoo, MSN, Gmail, AOL ) don't just evaluate your domain and its reputation, but the IP of which your domain sends email.  Its easy to fudge a domain, but not IPs.  This is why RBL lists are very good of keeping spam away from your box because you are able to look up the reputation of an IP before you accept email from them.  If you are the only one who sends email from an IP, and you have a clean list you will have a high open rate.

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