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Using cron to release mail from a mail server in small batches.

Discussion in 'Database Discussions' started by ChrisCarlisle, Aug 21, 2006.

  1. ChrisCarlisle

    ChrisCarlisle Registered

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    Hi, I'd like to be able to use a cron job to slowly release small batches of e-mail over a period of time (100 or so per hour), whilst stalling the rest until the hour has past.

    My problem is this:

    I'm an estate agent and host my site and mail with dataflame.co.uk who use cPanel. We send batches of, upto, 500 e-mails when we get a new property, sometimes 3 or 4 times a day, sometimes not for a week.

    We've been having problems with mail not being sent/bouncing back/server not responding (usually outlook sends 6 mails then fails the rest - horribly time consuming to get rid of 500 e-mails from outlook's outbox - worse when I'm not 100% postive they're even being sent on)

    Dataflame eventually told me there was a 150e-mail/hour limit that couldn't be removed (to combat spam) and suggested I used cron jobs to release the e-mail slowly, 100 or so each hour. They assured me this would allow the e-mails to all leave outlook (so nothing complicated to teach staff), while keeping us under the limit.

    However, they were not helpful in the specifics of how to create the cron job and sent me to some 'tutorial' sites, where I learned what a cron job is, but not specific commands to do the task I require as it involves knowledge of mail servers aswell, I'm assuming.

    I'm not sure what specific technical information is needed to formulate commands but:
    We have a small peer-to-peer WinXP network & use outlook 2000 to send e-mail
    We have multiple e-mail addresses on the domain
    In 'File Manger' I think e-mail is located in /mail/jrhopper.com/accountname/inbox or /sent-mail.

    Apart from this, I'd be happy to respond to requests for more information.

    Thank you all for your time
    Chris Carlisle
    J.R. Hopper & Co.

    P.S. If this is a simple task, the ability to 'promote' certain e-mail to the top of the queue would be a bonus, although I'd be more than happy if I could just get them all to go out.
     
  2. BW -Tim

    BW -Tim Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure how you would do it in WHM/cPanel, but notonebit.com has a mailing list which will queue the mail, so only 150 will be sent per hour. It's simple to use too, so training wouldn't be needed. :)
     
  3. RickG

    RickG Well-Known Member

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    Hi Chris:

    To clarify a few things that may be helpful ...

    1) It is not uncommon for a host to limit the number of emails an account can send in an hour as a spam prevention measure. However, the restriction can be removed on a domain by domain basis, if they choose (and it is within their policies).

    2) In simple, terms, a cron job is a Unix type of "timer" that allows you to trigger scripts and/or events on the server on a scheduled basis. Given you are maintaining the email addresses offline and "pushing" the email from within your Outlook client, it is not applicable in your scenario. In theory, to accomplish this with your current set up, you would have to create groups within Outlook (of less than 150 names each), and then create multiple messages. When composing each message (one per group of 150) you would use the Options button and define a "Do Not Deliver Before" value so they did not go out all at once. Yikes! This is not very productive.

    3) What Tim is suggesting is that you use mailing list software that is stored and run off the server. The email addresses and scripts would be maintained on the server .... when you were ready to send out a message you would either compose it online in the software (or offline and paste the copy into some type of compose window). Once you press send, the mailing list script releases the names in batches with the necessary delay inbetween (defined in its configuration file).

    There are lots and lots of options out there from MailMan (which is is included with cPanel) to third party solutions such as Dada Mail (http://mojo.skazat.com/), OEM Pro (http://www.octeth.com/), 1-2-All (http://www.activecampaign.com/12all/), etc. Some of these are free, others are in the +- US$200 range. It all depends on the sophistication of tracking, composition, and/or number of fields you may want to store with each record (i.e. more than simply an email address). They all are viable solution depending on needs and objectives.

    Looking at the above would be a good starting point.
     
  4. ChrisCarlisle

    ChrisCarlisle Registered

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    Online mailing list management is unfortunately not suitable

    Many thanks to you both for your speedy responses. From your advice, and the links provided, I'm concluding that the only way to resolve my problem is to use an online mailing list manager.

    Unfortunately I don't think this will be a viable solution. The estate agency package we use, automatically creates the e-mails after selectively matching the property features to the criteria of each applicant in it's database, then dumps them in Outlook's outbox - hence a different list of people are mailed each time. Due to this, I don't feel that maintaining external mailing lists for all possible match criteria would currently be practical, in Outlook or online. If we were starting from scratch this would probably work, alongside a fully online applicant and property database.

    Again, I appreciate your time spent helping me with this matter though I may start looking for alternate e-mail hosting without such limits.

    Kind Regards,
    Chris Carlisle
    J.R. Hopper & Co.
     
  5. RickG

    RickG Well-Known Member

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    Just a suggestion ... before looking for a new host I would contact the developers of the software you are using and explain the limitations you've come across. They may have a version with the same functionality (but it runs on the server under your hosting account). The feature set you describe is a common one for the real-estate industry.
     
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