Anti-spam overview

Spam (also known as “junk” mail) is unsolicited email or newsgroup postings often advertising a product or service. DreamHost makes efforts to prevent users from sending and receiving such email as it results in a variety of different problems for customers and the server.

Spam is sent in various ways and mail servers are always finding new ways to block them. At the same time, spammers find new ways to work around these new roadblocks to get their messages through. So, it’s an ongoing fight to minimize the effect of spam. Some hosts have strict filters, that can result in valid emails getting caught and rejected/discarded, while other hosts may have loose filters that allow more spam in. Finding a balance to this is the challenge.

Spam (aka Junk mail) is a nuisance to emails users as well as network administrators that work to prevent it. This article describes what specifically spam is (and is not) along with details on how to troubleshoot many common problems related to spam.


There is another form of spamming known as “phishing”. Phishing isn’t the same as your standard spam message as it is sent in order to retrieve important information, to sell you a product or sign you up for products/services through fraudulent means. These emails are directed specifically to you, but it is still spam.

If any message you receive from DreamHost appear to be suspicious, please contact support and provide the full headers of the message. Support can then look through the headers to see if it’s legitimate.

Why is spam bad?

Spam is bad for a variety of reasons as it can affect both the users receiving the spam and the servers sending/receiving the spam.

For the recipient of spam mail

It can be aggravating for users to have to go through a large amount of junk mail just to read the valid emails sent to them. This can cause a lot of wasted time sorting through the junk and finding alternate ways to block the incoming spam.

Because spam is sent in various ways, certain filtering methods may not work. Because of this, each message may have to be treated individually to find a way to block it.

Junk mail also fills up folders/mailboxes much faster, which can result in your mail user hitting its quota limit. View the Disk Usage Warning article for details.

For the network providers

Spam being sent through a network causes an additional load on the servers that process the data. For example, thousands of incoming spam messages can hit the server at once which may cause slowness and ensuing delivery issues.

Outgoing spam can ruin the sending reputation of a mail server as mail sent is link to that server’s IP address. This may result in blocks to the IP address which causes further delays and mail delivery failures.

Thus, the issues that affect the server also end up affecting the customer.

Dealing with spam

DreamHost offers Anti-Spam settings by default on all email accounts. You can also Blacklist/Whitelist emails from the (Panel > 'Mail' > 'Anti-spam') page. View the following article for further details on how to prevent Spam:

How anti-spam filtering works

The filters scan incoming email and compares them against a set of rules or characteristics shared by spam emails. If the Vade filter tags the email with a header of X-vr-status: Spam, it is filtered into your Spam folder.

Accessing quarantined emails

Emails are quarantined in the special 'Spam' folder by default within Webmail. Read more about the Webmail interface in the atmail webmail overview article. Webmail is linked in the panel’s Webmail page at (Panel > ‘Mail’ > ‘Webmail’).

Setting up alternative filters

If you do not wish to use the anti-spam filtering feature that DreamHost offers through the panel, you have a few alternatives for filtering incoming mail before it's delivered to your hosted user with DreamHost.

Below is a description of alternative junk-message filters:

Message filters
These are available through your account panel at (Panel > ‘Mail’ > ‘Message Filters’). This feature allows you to customize and create your own set of filter rules for each user. You can refer to the following article for details with this feature:

You cannot set up these custom message filters on a domain-wide basis. They must be created for each user you want them applied to.

Third-party filtering providers

You can set up third-party mail filtering services for your domain as well and have those filtering services deliver the mail to DreamHost mail servers once the filtering is complete. This can be setup through your account panel at (Panel > ‘Mail’ > ‘Custom MX’).

You can read more about how to set this up in the following article:

See also

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Article last updated PST.