I developed an email list manager web application (PHP w/ MySQL backend) for a client. The web application quickly evolved to support the sending of bulk emails to solicited email addresses (not spam). My client can sometimes send out some pretty large emails.

I am using the PHP Swiftmailer (with php mail() function) package to handle sending the emails. I have also set up an email queue and crontab so that the emails are gradually sent out within 24 hours. This way, the server doesn't get overloaded.

Anyways, the current server host no longer wants to support the application as she does not want to risk her server getting blacklisted (since she also has 200 other clients using that server).

My question is this: What is the best way to go about hosting this type of web application, where large emails are being sent out? I'm thinking I need a dedicated mail server, but I'm not sure how commercial hosts would feel about sending all of the bulk emails. Does anyone have any recommendations?

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This is exactly what the various commercial mail relay services are for. Many of them even provide features like deliverability statistics that you wouldn't get just running a postfix box. Some of them let you queue mail though SMTP (either configure php.ini so mail() uses it directly, or have the local MTA forward to them), others have you use a special API (very simple usually, should be easy to port), some of them will mangle the emails to provide user tracking (opens, link clicks, etc.), and there are a variety of pricing plans between them. A few to consider:

Once your app is sending email through an external relay, it won't affect your host's reputation, so hopefully you can stay put.

  • Thanks for your advice, I will surely check out those links. Thanks again! – littleK Dec 3 '10 at 12:39
  • I just tried to sign up for CloudSMTP and was asked to agree to a Terms of Use document consisting of latin filler text. That's quite worrying. – Dan Grossman Dec 16 '10 at 5:51

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