GApps Mail and Calendar Problems

My RightsPro Google Apps for business mail account will occasionally stop receiving mail to sent to groups I’m a member of, a huge pain in the ass indeed.

These messages can be found in Postini’s archive service and are marked as delivered normally but there’s no sign of them in the GApps mail account’s spam or inbox. The sender does not get a bounce message and there’s no way that I know I’m not receiving them, save searching Postini’s archive for mail sent to every group I’m a member of.

We’re GApps premium customers so I of course contacted GApps support on the issue. The normal progression of a GApps support ticket is just terrible: little to no activity and unhelpful or downright nonsensical responses when you do get one. ┬áThat is until you get the ticket escalated at which point their ‘specialists’ are actually quite helpful and willing to spend as long as it takes with you, even on the phone for an hour or more, to resolve the issue as best they can (many thanks John in Dublin).

GApps support called my issue a ‘hard bouncing state‘. This state was cleared and and my group emails flowed normally for about a month, then the same behavior returned. Apparently this state is associated with the user, not the group membership or group. So the group doesn’t go into a bouncing state (other members receive emails to the group normally), and the member within the group doesn’t go into a bouncing state, but the user itself goes into a bouncing state for all groups. Emails addressed to nicknames still go through.

The emails that caused this bouncing state were spam with a spoofed sender. <rant>I won’t go into the details of how much I loath spammers but suffice it to say that they are completely worthless human beings that leech off of society and should probably be shot on sight</rant>. GApps support couldn’t immediately retrieve the sender address but my guess is that they’re sent from a group which I’m the only member of, since no one else in our domain has this problem.

It doesn’t look like there’s any way for me to clear this bounced state myself but support is looking into that and exactly how and why the bounce state is caused in the first place.

I had what seems to be a related issue where invites from Google calendars were missing for that same account. Somehow the notification settings for my default calendar were all turned off (I never changed them, really) but after clearing this bounce state and turning the notifications on the invites show up. You may want to double check that your GApps for business notifications are not disabled by default:

Edit the main calendar notifications
Enable the notifications you want

I’ll update this post as I find out more about this hard bouncing state, how to avoid it, or how to clear it.

Update 20100204: GApps support has recommended a couple of thing to try in Postini:

  1. Put IP locking in place such messages with a from address in our domain would only be accepted if coming from the GApps cloud or one of our servers.
  2. Turn off blatant spam bouncing.

The former seems like a pain to maintain current IPs and I’m sure someone would forget about it at some point and be frantically looking for the cause of why some messages were bouncing until we realized it was our own damn fault and just wasted several precious hours that could have been spent with the family, or a beer, or both, so we implemented option 2.

Log in to the System Administration side of Postini…

After selecting your org click Spam Filtering
Turn off blatant spam bouncing

So far I haven’t gone back into this hard bouncing state since the changes but the Postini quarantine contains in the neighborhood of 10 times as many emails as before.