The festering realities of Bluehost: In which I learn about “”

Sometimes my outgoing email bounces for reasons I don’t understand from a variety of recipients. I usually try to contact the postmaster to find out why. This weekend, I actually got a response from one:

My apologies for the delay in replying.  Your email went into the gmail spam folder and so was not forwarded out to where I could respond immediately.

Going directly to “spam”? That’s not good.

The postmaster continued:

The reason that your email is blocked is because it originated at Unifiedlayer is one of the worst spam originators. They host spammers and they really don’t care, so I don’t have much choice but to block many of their mail servers.

Finally, some concrete information. I searched for “unifiedlayer”, finding common searches like “is unifiedlayer unsafe” and “unifiedlayer spam”. Go ahead and do those searches yourself. You’ll find that overall trust in unifiedlayer-originated mail is somewhere up there with body cavity searches, STDs, and politicians.

So I did what pretty much anyone would, I called my service provider. Bluehost told me that unifiedlayer was an in-house product, that they were well aware of the spam problem, that they worked on it really really hard (that’s a paraphrase, not a quote), and like every other thing that Bluehost gets wrong (and gets wrong repeatedly), that if I were just willing to pay a tiny bit more per month (five bucks in this case), they’d allow my “ericasadun” domain email to go through a different originator.

I am so sick of Bluehost.

If you have any advice on how I can transfer my web site and my email away from this festering heap, please drop me an email (I’ll probably get yours even if you don’t get my reply) and help me find an alternate home. I’ve heard good things about Digital Ocean, for example, but I don’t even know where to start in terms of moving over ten years worth of email.

At least I’ve been through the process of reinstalling WordPress and have my backups.

Thanks in advance.


  • Fastmail will migrate IMAP email for you. For other mail providers, there are IMAP migration scripts you can run locally. You can also add both accounts to and move the messages by hand, although it will take forever and I advise you to do it in relatively small batches, and it is Not Fun™.

    • Another vote for Fastmail, they are great. Have actual responsive support and even their webmail interface is slick and fast, even if I mostly use macOS’

  • Dreamhost is good people who know what they’re doing. (I don’t use it myself; I run my own servers ( But I’ve known people who have worked there)

  • Dreamhost is tolerable.

    Siteground is better.

  • has been great. They’ve always taken care of me, has been nearly 10 years since I started with them. Email has never been an issue, email deliveries are always received by my recipients without being tagged as spam.

    I did a senderscore reputation check on the known mail server IPs I have for them and they all came back >97 score (on a 0 – 100 score). The SmarterMail system they use has an IMAP migration utility built into it. Really nice!

  • We’ve been quite happy with for eons.

  • I’ll second that recommendation for – I’ve been with them for well over a decade and they are just great, with an extremely knowledgeable and helpful staff that I expect could help with the transition.

  • What about going to AWS? S3 for web hosting. WorkMail for mail. EC2 for your wordpress site.

    I’m ditching HostGator because they charge for SSL certificates. AWS is the best candidate so far.

  • We have used various web hosting companies since the late 90s. Problems after problems after problems. However, we have been with A2 Hosting (shared hosting using WordPress) for about one year and have been very pleased with the performance and level of support. And, it’s been problem free! Regarding email, we use Google G Suite for some of our email accounts. This allows us to use Gmail with our domain name. It works great!

  • SiteGround is very good
    OVH if you want some special EU country server adress

    Bluehost became a nightmare, we move out every client that still had account there and every body is very happy now.

    For migration just use IMAP for your email and synchronize all mail locally then when you move you host sync back again with IMAP

  • $12/year.