Email Forwarders, Spam Filters & Missing Messages


Sep 17, 2017
cPanel Access Level
Website Owner
I pay a web host for website space and email services. cPanel is included, which I figure out and use as best I can (on a beginning level). For the most part, I like cPanel a lot (except that, for beginners, the documentation is not always complete or easy to comprehend).

For 6 or 7 years I have used email "forwarders" to distribute piles of variably-addressed incoming email messages to a few recipients. Once in place I find it simple to manage and, for us, has worked very well. This is long and hopefully helpful.

Questions are at the bottom. cPanel-Email-Options-Screenshot.JPG

Our setup (with recent issues of disappearing messages) is highlighted as follows:
  • FORWARDED (outgoing) MAIL - goes to 5 to 8 occasionally-updated pre-existing recipient addresses via cPanel's easy-to-use email forwarders [e.g., final recipients are: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected],, etc.]
    • [email protected] receives a copy of every incoming message except those for mail9... and [email protected] [yes, that's a long list of forwarders for theboss...]
    • [email protected] only receives items addressed to mail1... mail8... and [email protected]
    • [email protected] only receives items for mail1... mail8... mail26... mail35... and [email protected]
    • One person (that's me) handles forwarder address updates (additions, deletions, etc.) in one place ==> the cPanel email forwarders page <==
      • Each recipients deals only with whatever messages show up in his/her inbox
      • Recipients don't reconfigure their personal email accounts when incoming mail addresses are added or deleted, or when they first enter or eventually depart from our system
      • After recent problems baffled many of my web host's technical staff (see below), a couple of weeks ago the host's CEO wrote: "...One suggestion though is that instead of using forwarders you consider using the ability for most email services to check POP3/IMAP accounts..."
      • I'm new at this and maybe my thinking is wrong, but it seems that for us to use POP3/IMAP would require more than a little technical time. I think:
        • I'd repeatedly have to create, maintain, troubleshoot and someday delete a number of new [email protected] "holding tank" email accounts
          • Each "tank" to be checked for messages by an ever-changing array of recipients,
            • all of whom want no more than 1 or maybe 2 personal &/or work-related email accounts
            • some of whom come and go (with us) for short periods, and
            • none of whom know or care about POP3/IMAP settings.
          • We do not want all incoming messages available to everyone.
          • Users send any outgoing email from their personal/work accounts, not via our email system.
        • Each recipient (or I) would have to learn about, reconfigure, maintain and troubleshoot settings for his/her existing email account(s):
          • via gmail, hotmail, yahoomail, webmail, squirrelmail, etc., etc.
          • To enable checks of one or more "holding tanks" for incoming messages
        • When a recipient departs, his/her "holding tank" will be deleted:
          • For security, to end the email relationship,
          • To be replaced by a new setup configured for a new recipient.
        • Revising 2 or 8 or 12 forwarders now and then seems lots easier.
  • DISAPPEARING MAIL - Example: Incoming messages for [email protected] are set to be forwarded to [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected].
    • This has worked fine for 2+ years; no problems & no changes (by us).
    • Then, about a month ago (early August 2017), some (but not all) items sent by GoogleVoice to mail8... stopped being delivered to dog..., cat..., and theboss...;
      • we saw no warnings & no error messages
      • non-spam mail from all other senders continued to be forwarded & delivered properly
      • so, it took a while for dog..., cat... and theboss... to notice that their inboxes seemed a bit too quiet.
    • For close to a year, we've been using the "Professional Spam Filter" provided in cPanel (see below). The spam filter's helpful log files list all incoming messages and show what the filter did with each:
      • tons of spam Rejected
      • questionable messages sent to Quarantine
      • non-spam messages Accepted and Delivered to [email protected], etc.
        • Note: this filter's log does NOT show whether or not items have been successfully forwarded; only that they were "delivered" to the mail8... address
        • Note: all non-spam items addressed to mail8... show in the log files as "delivered" -- BUT:
          • items from GoogleVoice disappear (they are not in the Quarantine that I can access) (they are not waiting for delivery in the queue that I can access) (they never arrive at dog..., cat..., or theboss...)
          • items to mail8... from other senders are delivered, forwarded & arrive properly at all recipients' inboxes
    • I contacted our web host's technical people & explained & explained. My issue was escalated up the chain of skill and finally the CEO sent the following message:
      • "I've released and trained the system that this is not spam. One suggestion though is that instead of using forwarders you consider using the ability for most email services to check POP3/IMAP accounts. This would avoid our filters and their initial line of defense filters as well. Right now if we miss too much spam forwarding out to services like hotmail and gmail they'll start putting everything we forward to the junkmail folder or even worse outright block the mail from ever arriving in the destination inbox."
      • Moments later, a big pile of old (missing/disappeared) messages from GoogleVoice arrived at inboxes for dog..., cat... and theboss....
      • Problem Not Fixed -
        • Release & train by the web host's CEO did not help.
        • The spam quarantine I can access does not hold our missing messages so I cannot do it myself by clicking a button to release them & train the system.
        • After creating a temporary work-around at the GoogleVoice website, I finally got one of GoogleVoice's messages uploaded in .msg file format to the spam filter's "Not Spam" web page.
        • BUT - GoogleVoice items still disappear. Aarrggh!
        • And now ...
  • About a week or so ago (early September 2017), some (but not all) items from eBay and PayPal addressed to mail8... stopped being delivered to dog..., cat... and theboss....
    • again, no warnings & no error messages; just disappeared.
    • non-spam mail from all other senders (except GoogleVoice) continues to be forwarded & delivered properly to dog..., cat... and theboss....
    • Aarrggh! again.
  • SPAM FILTER(s) - Web hosts (and I) hate spam. My knowledge is fuzzy regarding the path that email messages follow through "the system." Email headers look (to me) like a mass of gobbeldygook. After years of almost no problems, somebody (not me) must have tweaked something someplace that I cannot see and some of our incoming messages are disappearing into somebody's spam quarantine. Our web host released them -- from where, I have no idea; and he/they suggest that it would be better for me to stop using email forwarders.
    • I use cPanel's "Professional Spam Filter" as my primary (and only?) line of defense against spam.
      • As I can see in the filter's log file listings, it is EXCELLENT at rejecting 99.99% of the tens of thousands of unwanted junk messages that arrive each year.
      • After months of occasional (by me) whitelisting, blacklisting, and other adjustments to the filter, the filter's log files seem to show that almost no spam gets forwarded to any of our final recipients.
    • I don't know, but it surely seems like our web host has and can adjust settings in additional spam filters and a spam quarantine that I cannot see or access. In this world of hackers, that's probably good, but it is an ongoing hassle for many people to have messages simply disappear and then to have me contacting my web host again and again and again -- especially when they don't want me using the cPanel forwarders that make my job so simple.
  • Are email forwarders bad?
    • If yes, why have them?
    • If no, why discourage their use?
  • Is there a way to redesign or tweak cPanel's Professional Spam Filter?
    • That allows users to force GoogleVoice's (& eBay's & PayPal's & other) messages into the spam filter's Quarantine [so I can see and work with items that would otherwise disappear]?
    • Maybe new command(s) related to whitelist or blacklist => named "Push-to-Quarantine"


Staff member
Apr 11, 2011

It's important to note that "Professional SPAM Filter" is not an option developed or included by default with cPanel. It's a third-party plugin developed by the following company:


Thus, the issues you notice are likely related to your web hosting provider's custom implementation of that plugin as opposed to the cPanel & WHM software itself. You may want to contact them with those questions to see if this is something they can address.

Thank you.