Why doesn’t forwarding to EarthLink work when I test it?

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If you set up a forwarding email address that delivers messages to an earthlink.net address, then test the forwarding by sending a message from an earthlink.net address, the test probably won’t work. EarthLink will reject it with this error message:

550 5.7.1 Connection refused - OXSUS0001_304 -

EarthLink will sometimes also reject messages from other sources for the same reason, so we generally recommend avoiding forwarding to EarthLink. It’s more reliable to set up a mailbox for your address @example.com and read it using your mail program or webmail.

Can you give me an example?

Let’s say you set up “forwarding@example.com” to forward email to “example@earthlink.net”.

If you send a test message from “example@earthlink.net” to “forwarding@example.com”, the message will be forwarded by our servers, but EarthLink will reject the message.

This problem makes it look like the forwarding doesn’t work, even though mail sent from most other addresses to “forwarding@example.com” would work properly.

If you want to test an address that forwards mail to a EarthLink address, send the test message from any address except the final EarthLink destination address.

Why does this problem with test messages happen?

EarthLink does this intentionally. Their spam filtering system assumes that mail claiming to be “From” an EarthLink address, that arrives “To” and Earthlink address, will stay entirely within their network, and won’t go through other servers at all.

We think this is a misguided policy, but it’s something they control, not us, and it happens no matter what forwarding service you use.

Are there other problems forwarding to EarthLink?

In addition to the problem described above with test messages, EarthLink spam filtering is much more likely to reject forwarded messages than most spam filtering.

The technical reason is that EarthLink doesn’t comply with the DMARC Internet mail standard, which requires ISPs to check two different anti-spam systems (SPF and DKIM) and deliver messages that pass either system. Unlike most ISPs, they first check sender SPF records and reject mismatched messages that have a -all sender policy before checking to see if a DKIM signature would allow the message. This makes messages forwarded to EarthLink much more likely to be misclassified as spam.

Because of this, it isn’t completely reliable to forward to an earthlink.net address (from any forwarding service, not just from our company). We recommend instead setting up a mailbox for your address @example.com and reading it using your mail program or webmail.