phpList sending issue that has developed recently


Quick summary of the problem:

  • up until approximately August 20 everything was working fine. After that the problem below has emerged
  • phpList campaign is created and sent
  • phpList reports that the campaign was successfully processed.
  • email addresses with the same domain that our web site uses receive the campaign email fine.
  • email addresses with a domain different to our web site fail to receive the campaign email without exception. Doesn’t matter if it’s gmail, hotmail, or an ISP provided domain.
  • if I send an individual email from the same account ( that is used in the ‘From’ address in the campaign emails, it works fine and is received by any address I try (so I guess this makes a spam filer problem unlikely).
  • as far as I’m aware there haven’t been any changes to our installation (phpList or php version on hosting server) for a long time.

Long description follows

I’ve recently taken over managing the mass emails for a not-for-profit organisation I work for. I’m not a trained IT expert but I do the bulk of our IT management anyway and I generally manage to get by.

We use phpList 3.0.12 on a hosted server. The php version this server uses is 5.3 (old, I know, but up until recently we haven’t noticed any issues with it). The server also hosts our website which is running on Drupal 6.12 (also old) and our hosted email service.

I went to do the first send-out of our monthly newsletter (since I took over) yesterday and when doing a test run to a small list of email addresses that I can check (one gmail and a handful of ISP based ones) I found that although phpList reported that the campaign had been processed successfully with no errors reported, the emails never arrived, with the exception of our own organisations email addresses, so ones that share the domain name of our website.

I deleted the email addresses that weren’t receiving the emails from the lists in phpList and re-imported them, but that made no difference. I also tried to delete them and then re-register for the newsletter via the website. This resulted in the addresses being added to the list successfully and the phpList pop-up notification saying that a confirmation email had been sent appeared as you would expect, but the confirmation email did not arrive. This led me to check the email account where the list subscription and confirmation notification emails are sent to and I discovered that even though there have been a number of subscription notifications over the last two weeks, there have been no confirmation notifications.

Up until this day pretty much every subscription notification was followed immediately by a confirmation (as you would expect), so it’s pretty clear to me that around that time something changed and the emails that phpList thinks it’s sending aren’t actually being received.

I don’t think it’s a spam filtering problem as I can send an individual email to the addresses that aren’t receiving the phpList campaign emails from the email account ( that is used as the ‘From’ address in campaign emails and they are received fine. Also,

I’m going to call the hosting company on Monday when there tech support opens, but I thought I’d check to see if anyone might have some suggestions for me regarding questions to ask or if there are things I should be checking myself beforehand. The hosting is managed through CPanel and I’m pretty comfortable working in that, including making changes to config files etc. via the built in file manager.

One last thing…I gather the actual email sending is handled by PHPMailer. Can anyone tell me where the logs for PHPMailer (and phpList for that matter) are usually located so I can do a bit of hunting there? I know I can look at the event log in the phpList web GUI but I suspect there might be more in the logs than actually appear there (correct me if I’m wrong).

Hi! Based on your description, it seems like the connection between phplist and the outgoing email server seems to be broken. Since your system was working and now it is not working, I’d suspect that it may have been some kind of authentication change on email server. Have any email addresses been deactiveated lately for your domain?

I would test all of this by sending a test message to your email address, and also to you address, and see if both get through. Under the ‘system’, ‘log of events’ that will provide an indication of any problems with the email connections.

You can lookup the email smtp settings in cpanel, and verify that the settings in your config.php for phpList are correct.

thanks for the reply Dan. Before trying your suggestions I noticed that the message envelope and bounce mailbox email messages were incorrect (still using an old domain name that hadn’t been changed since we moved to a new domain at the start of the year). I corrected those and tried again and it worked! The old domain had been parked over our new domain up until the end of July so the old email addresses would have been valid until then. The strange thing is we sent out an email newsletter which seemed to work fine in early August, after the old domain was unparked!

Anyways, it’s working and I’m happy.



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