Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Mailblocks was working well for me ever since it it failed on my in January. At the time, I told them that they should have an outages page so that users could find out why mail wasn't working and when it might be back up.

This time, I can access the mailbox, but I haven't been able to receive any new mail for about 8.5 hrs. So if you're trying to reach me urgently, please email me or leave a comment here.

They don't have any information on their page or replied to the email I've sent. hmm...

I am joi_ito at on AIM.

UPDATE: FYI. Mailblocks was acquired by AOL.


I was an early adopter of Mailblocks, and quickly completely sold on the whitelisting concept. I wasn't that big on the challenge-response feature, but I quickly saw that whitelisting is the only real way that we will be able to defeat SPAM. Mailblocks was perfect - POP access, Web access, and whitelists. I spread the word. Then the problems started. I stuck with them for the first few glitches, but after a while I became convinced they were not yet mature enough technically to be stable. I looked around for another way to do whitelisting, and still have web access to my e-mail. The only service I could find that suited my needs was Hotmail. I set up my new account and my whitelist, and to this day, I get 0 spam in my inbox (down from 300 a day pre-Mailblocks).

Hey Joi,

I've been experiencing a few outages in the past few weeks also. I hope they get their act together or that this is a result of growth from the great publicity that they've been getting. I use their IMAP servers with Chatter on my Treo 600 to get "push" email. If the Treo isn't buzzing with new mail like a Blackberry, I know somethings up with MailBlocks.


Joe Fung

PING-re Unitary Technology.

It started working again today...

You know -- I've only had one problem with Mailblocks (when they had their outage a couple of months back), and even then their customer service folks were great -- responsive, friendly, professional. I'm using it to consolidate mail from multiple accounts, filter appropriately, POP when necessary, IMAP for all other times, without any problems at all.

I've been using Mailblocks for about 9 months and have not had any problems with it whatsoever. Not sure why I'm so special...

I've been using Mailblocks for about 9 months and have not had any problems with it whatsoever. Not sure why I'm so special...

Just curious how things are going for people now who have been using Mailblocks. It looks like a great idea. Have they been up most of the time now (after outages in January and March).

I have been using Yahoo, and they are not perfect either. Even with their spam fighting tools I figure I waste a few hours every year deleting email.

Thanks for any input!

i love the service but have been down since the 25th. tech support offers no help period. I'm lost as to what to do.

Mailblocks seems to be hosed again I had set it up as my ebay email as I sell on ebay and that was HUGE mistake. since there are no way of telling it was down I would just keep checking my mail and assuming I had none. Finally I sent myself a test message.hmmm did not go through so I changed my ebay email and surpise alot of people are mad at me now becuase they could not email me. It would have been nice to know it was down :|

June 17: After two days of using my new Mailblocks account, I have not been able to log on for about 12 hours. They have not answered support requests.

Anyone else out there having problems?

This is simply unacceptable, not a better way to do email at all.

I've been trying to use Mailblocks for our business, and it's just not reliable enough. It's been down for over 24 hours. It seems to go down frequently, and after a while the service people stopped answering us.

There are many hidden drawbacks to the "service" . Often times the sorting system seems to get backlogged and it takes the immediacy out of email. If you use email to communicate back and forth, you'll find your messages get queued sometimes for many hours.- especially during business hours.

Our email is now in the hands of a seemingly incompetent crew- what a nightmare.

John Bryant
ShareWeb, Inc.

I have read with interest the glowing reviews received by the Mailblocks service, and I can see that they have been successful in pulling the wool over the eyes of many reputable technology writers. They managed to snow Walter Mossberg at the WSJ so bad that he is even now acting as a shill for their product.

To wit:

I have been having a persistent problem with the Mailblocks service that speaks to the heart of their product. For a period of six weeks and counting, the Mailblocks product will not "serve" my Yahoo! bulk mail folder contents. Thus, the bulk mail (spam) filtering is of no use to me.

They refuse to take my issue seriously, refuse to acknowledge the problem and refuse to send me personalized replies -- instead sending me form letters with information that is not applicable to my issue. I will be happy to share some of these messages with you if you'd like.

Further, they will not phone me to find out more about my issue nor will they give me a phone number to contact THEM. And when I finally had enough and asked them to cancel the service, they refused to offer a refund -- again sending some form letter response that showed about as much heart as a dead fish.

We're not talking about a random, tolerable glitch here. We are talking about a complete and utter systemic failure for the product to peform the most basic and critical operation that justifies its existence -- the sorting, and blocking, of spam from a third-party E-mailbox. That's just inexcusable.

I have always been bemused by the Mailblocks entry portal page, which they use to trumpet how wonderful they think their product is. I now see, with their purchase by AOL, what their primary focus has been all along -- to make a product that "looks good," cosmetically on the surface, to quickly turn a profit by selling out -- but failing to focus on the individual consumer. I certainly hope AOL realizes the piece of junk they're getting. I haven't seen a snow job this effective since the height of the dot-com boom.

Seems to be in teh same case.
Spend more than 72 hours to receive my mails (if they are not lost).
Support answer all the time that their mail works fine and that I have a problem (as I keep a copy on my original mail for the test before making the reroute , I'm sure that I receive mails !)
I receive only spams for US taht are indeed blocked.
Seems that they sometimes lose mails if this mail comes from Europe.

Have been using MAILBOCKS for more than 1 year and I am getting more and more upset with the deteriorating service. It takes ages for mail to reach sometimes and no warning or explanation is given. And sometime it is impossible to reach the server to read the mails. The fact that they don't have telephone numbers to give explanations is very frustrating. I believe the service is getting worse instead of better since AOL bought them. Any advice out there as to how I can contact them by phone to know what is going on? Any webpage indicating the status of their service at any point in time? Thanks. Laurent (, but don't write there tonight I can't access my emails since 12 hours)

Mailblocks evidently went down last night (May 7, 2005) and I've been unable to get to my mail. I have a message on a yellow background telling me that it is a server problem. I've nowhere to check by phone. I called AOL tech support since they now own Mailblocks and they didn't know that they were the owner. Where do we go now? My guess is that Mailbocks is about to disappear and we should all be ready to move to another web mail program that offers similar or better features.

I'm kinda glad to see I'm not the only one having problems. I've always loved Mailblocks webmail interface even more then the anti-spam features they provide.

I don't really want to switch services, but does anyone have any suggestions for a webmail interface as good as mailblocks?

Relieved to see I'm not the only one unable to access mail - though curiously the ad supported service (tag is still working.

My main account has a message saying Server Error in '/' application then some tiny print that's unreadable.

I too have wasted precious hours trying to work out how to access mailblocks help or support but they're quite impenetrable.

Not good enough.


AOL tech support says they don't support mailblocks. However, I was able to use the google cache to get to another part of the mailblocks site.

Also, you might want the support page to complain to mailblocks (though, they don't list a phone number):

Anyone find an alternative. I'm bailing on mailblocks, but can't find another C/R provider...

Call AOL Corporate Communications at 703-265-1746 and key in that you "are" a member of the press, and you'll get a live person to complain to.

I've been having a similar problem with logging into Mailblocks this week. Contacted tech support and this is part of the reply I received:

>>Thank you for your questions regarding SR-unable to log in on web.

We show that your account is on a server that was experiencing an extended weekly maintenance due to a hardware issue on the time of your report. This is necessary to ensure continued health of your account located on the server. We appreciate your patience and understanding during this time. Once again, we apologize for the inconvenience.

You should be able to access your account at this time, but the feature that pulls emails from managed accounts may not work. You can manually check these accounts if needed...
(snip) We anticipate these issues will be resolved soon, so please try again in a little while...

well, it's been down about 24 hours now!

I may use yahoo as my client, it has ability to screen for 'known' addresses.

I will mess the challenge/response though.

It's been almost 24 hours and Mailblocks is telling me that they're in routine maintenance for the next 'few minutes'. Anybody else having the same problem?

I am having the same issue with Mailblocks right now. I called tech support and like you stated earlier they are clueless about Mailblocks. I think it may finally have died, but it would have been nice to get warned.

I am able to receive email with Outlook and my Mailblocks account, but I cannot send any emails. I am in the process of moving to a new free AIM Mail account now since it is powered by the Mailblocks technology and offers 2GB of IMAP service for free. If you send through Outlook or another non-web interface then there are no ads either.

Well it looks my my Mailblocks account is back up again. I am still moving off of it though since there really is no official support and it is too unreliable. Plus, I prefer a free 2GB account to my paid for 100MB account limit.

This seems like the only site to talk about mailblocks issues. I still love the service, when it works, but right not it's not working. It worked just fine a couple of hours ago, but now I can't sign on. Argh.

Hi- i found this page thru google.
i noticed that i'm not the only one today (july19-2005) who is getting a maintenance error page. did blow up today? does anyone have a phone number contact for mailblocks? it's been down for about 12 hours, and they don't have a support number posted.

Yes, my account is still down today. I have found that the best way to contact customer support is thru their website. On Mailblocks homepage, click the "help" tab, then under the miscellaneous menu, choose "contact us." Raph, let me know what you find out.

In a twisted sort of way it's good to know that others are having problems with Mailblocks today. I have enjoyed having no spam for a couple of years now, but I can't retrieve my email for the past 24 hours...I guess I'll just hang in there and see what happens for a little while longer.

ha! it came back up around 10:30 am Pacific july19-2005 for me.
i wouldn't mind the outages if it weren't for the fact that they don't have a server status page for customers. Another thing to note... the emails i sent to them via the contact page yesterday were only responded too shortly after the system came back up... as if they didn't get mail until everything was working.
anyway, i'm addicted to mailblocks, which became apparent as i went about searching for alternatives yesterday. the mailblocks tracker emails is what keeps me at mailblocks, which no one else offers (at least cheaply)
my Pending folder purges about 100-120 junk emails EVERY DAY and i never want to go back to seeing those emails in my real inbox.
if i HAD to go with an alternative i might consider aliencamel, but they are more expensive than mailblocks. the other solution i contemplated was Computer Associate's eTrust Anti-Spam but then i'd have to use Outlook Express.
Kristi, Hal - i hope your servers have come up. mine was on app4 and it's working again.

Yep, mine came back up yesterday too (July 19). The support message they sent me says "We show that your account is on a server that was experiencing an extended weekly maintenance due to a hardware issue...Also, it has come to our attention that a small amount of accounts did not properly display the status message."
I too would dearly miss the trackers, which is why I haven't left yet.

Mine also came up yesterday. I have learned not to get too upset over these things. One thing is for sure - when a service like Mailblocks goes down, there are a bunch of people that are losing sleep and frantically moving heaven and earth to try and get it back up again. You can't see them working on it, and yes, they want to keep quiet about it all (not good for business ya know, to have a front page announcing that things aren't working!) but the best thing to do is take a breath, go get a coffee and relax for a day. Contrary to popular belief, the world does not really end if you have to go without email for a day once in a while! I love the Mailblocks and I'm sticking with a good thing.

Mailblocks was down for me on 18 JUL, returning on 19 JUL. It is down again today with the same generic down for maintenance message.

It bothers me that they don't provide a status report when they have an unscheduled outage. Every other service that I have used always gives you a status report when they go down unexpectedly.

Hi Tom - I am having the exact same problems at the exact same times as you and despite my previous good natured post I am starting to lose my patience! I think I'll go that that cup of coffee now...

Ditto. This week has been an up and down week, and currently still down.

My mailblocks account has been down more than up in the past 3 days. This is unacceptable. I hope the magazines give it hell and thumbs down. They don't even tell us what going on. Complete incompetency, arrogence and just plain rude.

My account has been down since Monday. Contact to customer support yielded no results. Second time in as many months. Ever since AOL took them over they suck. Time to look for someone else

Back again... the beginning of the end? Mailblocks is not taking new customers...

Mine isn't back. Still getting the "Down for a few minutes for routine maintenance screen"

Once I have access again to my mail and ADDRESS BOOK can I export my addresses and or mail? Anyone know? Thanks.

I don't even get that. Once I try to login it goes to a "page cannot be displayed" error.

As to exporting your addresses, I can't recall them having that option. Short of doing a lot of copy/paste I don't know if there really is a way. Of course if they don't get the system up and running soon, it may not matter...

They went downhill once AOL took them over. Another reason I don't do business with AOL. I had Mailbocks B4 the buyout. Well time to cancel I guess.

I am another unhappy mailblock customer. My account is up but my wife's is not. I will be switcing soon. Anyone done good research for a replcaement?

For those of you that like the trackers you can use I am usign both and and they work good together.....

that is as long as mailblocks is up...

A suggestion --

something to think about if you want to stay with mailblocks but don't want to be a slave to their support strategy. Use the forwarding feature in their system to setup a forwarding email that you use. If you have control over where the forwarding emails forward you can always redirect email while their email system is down. Of course you won't have access to your trackers but you should always have a formal email you give someone that always is forwarded to a mailblocks tracker... This "level of abstraction" will allow you to redirect to a gmail address or to yahoo (as I did) while their service is down.

Yes was down for a few days earlier this week, up on Wed but then down again Thursday late and so far down all day Friday... Man something really bad must have happened... Some in testing their backup/restore strategies... Good luck Mailblocks. We miss you!


Why don't you try I have not used their service so I can't vouch for them but they use the same challenge/response idea as mailblocks

Quick! It's up again. Check your e-mail while you can...

Something really bad did happen...

Here's what they told me:

"We show that your account is on a server that was displaying a message about maintenance due to a hardware issue. All emails were queued and delivered once this issue was cleared. Unfortunately, it did not fully resolve the issue, so it was replaced when it was clear that it would not prevent the issue from occurring again for the long term. This was necessary to ensure continued health of your account located on the server."

Mine is back up now and I suspect we are all out of the woods now.

"out of the woods"... until next time.

I don't have a problem with the fact that a site may have a problem from time to time (providing it's not too often).

However, I DO have a problem with the fact that these outages have become too frequent and too long. And I have a problem with the fact that Mailblocks has been less than forthcoming with some sort of explanation or apology.

I received a similar form response stating that my "account was located on a server that experienced a problem ..." and something to the effect that the "temporarily down" page didn't display. (DUH!!)
And THAT was today... five days after I filled out the contact form stating that I had a problem.

I was very unhappy when AOL took over Mailblocks. Their service seems to have gone the way of AOL service -- in plain English, AOL sucks.

Their customer support hasn't exactly been the greatest lately. Like I said the least they could do is let people know what's going on. Personally, I'm going elsewhere. They have become too unreliable to be of any use to me. Besides, it's time to get away from AOL.

Nobody asked -- just my opinion :)

Anyone else having problems logging on to Mailblocks this evening?

Interesting problem today - Mailblocks does not recognize me or my password and will not let me in to check my mail. July 26 at 4:50pm central time. Wonder if anyone else is having this problem? Hal.

hehe yes- i can't login again.
however in the past week of mailblocks outages, i've discovered that Thunderbird has a filter anyone can use which checks a sender against your address book, and sends them to a junk (pending) folder of your choice if senders are not in your address book.
it's worked just like mailblocks except it won't send a response mail to anyone asking to verify- because it's just a filter.

Mailblocks has been out for several hours this afternoon and evening. It's out now.

I share the frustration with others.

Perhaps they have customer support prevention meetings.

My password is not being recognized today as well... Web front end does not say anything about invalid password....

I see Mailblocks is not accepting any new customers. I really believe AOL would just like to see us go away. I think that now that they bought the technology they will use it just for their paying AOL clients and will not let us renew our service agreements. I am so very mad about these service lapses that I have been doing just what I guess they want. I plan on closing my accounts and jumping ship. I found this product called ChoiceMail and I am going to give that a try ( ) I once had found another firm that offered service just like MailBlocks and I should have went with them. I found them both totally by luck but went with MailBlocks because of the pizzazz. Now I can not recall who the other firm is - hopefully they may still be in business? Anybody know of any other like services offered by an email provider? Post their URLs here! Thanks for letting me vent! LOL! -Geo

found them...

Anybody know if AOL is buying them too? ;)


Good to see that I'm not the only one that mailblocks doesn't recognize anymore. At first I thought it was a Mac/PC thing because I could sign on at home but not work. I started moving my stuff to a new address last week, but I still get mail to MB and I'd like to check it.

I'm also having the same problem: the web interface works fine, but the POP3 doesn't work. Of course I double checked the settings at least 3 times.

As usual, not a single word of apology or explanation.

Spam Arrest is offering Mailblocks customers a 90 Free Trial, if they use the following Link:

"Thank you for your questions regarding SR-POP3/IMAP access.

We have investigated your account and it shows that the account is in queue to be manually repaired as it was not able to be fully moved.

While it is being worked on and while it is being transferred, you may not have access until this issue is fully resolved. We are unable to move your account without it being fully repaired because it may cause the same issues that you were receiving previously.

After this is fully resolved, please write to us using this case number so we can add the time that you were without access to the account to the renewal date. This way we will be able to add the correct amount of time to the account.

Thank you for using Mailblocks. If we can be of further assistance, please let us know."

Hi I have been having difficulty again today logging on Aug 11. Anybody else having problems? Hal.

Yeah Hal they seem to be at it again. Now I get a "page not found" error after I try to login.

Don't use them anymore for anything important. They used to be good, these days they suck. No customer support either.

I'm getting the error too today (Aug. 21). Luckily I switched most everything over to another account a couple of weeks ago, but I still get various shopping-related e-mails to mailblocks. I definitely don't want to start getting spam to my new account, so I'll have to figure out what e-mail address to use when I shop. I thought Mailblocks might work for that, but if it's down, it's no use to me.

I have been with mailblocks for a long time- My friends are getting my emails bounced back to them with the message that my account doesn't exist. Is anyone else having this problem? please let me know!!! thanks

Todd, I am having the same problem the last few days. Several people have told me that their emails bounced back and I have still not received them. I have no mail this morning and cannot log in via the web page. I have just about lost my confidence in Mailblocks. Hal.

I am having the same problem.
I was able to find a few phone numbers for mailblocks:
650 937-3209
650 937-5898
650 937-5555

All three numbers sent me into voicemail. I hit zero to speak to the operator. He refused to transfer me to customer service. He told me to use the Website for all questions. He said that AOL has acquired Mailblocks and may not be providing customer service, except through the Website.

It looks like we are in trouble.

By the way, the Mailblocks service is working fine for their internal Email accounts.
Try sending an Email to and it will work just fine.

Are there any lawyers who have been screwed by Mailblocks that would be willing to file a class action lawsuit? Mailblocks has provided no service to me for days and only responds to my requests with autogenerated, non-responses to issues I bring up.

It seems like most of the problems listed here (thanks for the space, Joi) have been about not being able to log in. I don't usually have that problem.
I've been having a different problem for the past week -- they somehow changed me from the app22 server to the app6 server. But they didn't switch me over completely.
Basically, it was as though they had reset my account to November 15, 2003 (which is when I had last moved FROM app6) -- so, all my email between 11/15/2003 and 8/15/2005 was still on App22, along with my 100MB of space, my rules, my trackers, etc. And after 6 different emails, I can't get them to respond with anything other than a bland
form letter saying soething like "it's not fixed yet" or "it is fixed now" -- NO IT ISN'T FIXED. They just don't read the emails, or don't care. I guess I'll try the three phone numbers listed above, as well as (650) 947-9361 which someone posted in Joi's other mailblocks entry.
I was a Mailblazer (their version of a beta tester) which is why I was on app22. If anyone has any similar problems or suggestions or wants to commiserate, send an email to kcreekmore at m---b----- dot com (you know how to fill in the blanks.)


When you shop why not use disposable email addresses? They forward to your "real" email address -- which at this point I assume is not mailbocks -- and they give you the chance to see who you can trust. I use any combination of the following, go visit their sites and pick one or ones that you like: - - - - -

Or you may want to try they are similar to mailblocks, but you give a different "keyed" address to different users and you can make that address public or private ... (something like and THEY ARE NOT PART OF AOL :)

I don't know why are people still using mailblocks. I started using mailblocks in may,03 and stopped in feb or march,04. Shifted over to a hosting server and domain I owned. In april I got a gmail account but it didn't offer imap so I stuck with my hosting server. Then, in aug,04 I started moving some mail to gmail and in april,05 got a account. Those who are using mailblocks, seriously, staying with mailblocks is stupid these days. The service started to go downhill after Phil Goldman died(RIP). After that the service enchancements died out and sometime after that AOhell purchased mailblocks. I knew it was time to abandon mailblocks completely.

What a pile of junk.
AOL sure has muck it up. Does not work anymore. I have had it and switching. Too bad it was such a nice pogram.

I just got e-mail from Mailblocks saying they are terminating the service effective November 15th. I share John's sentiments. Mailblocks when it worked was awsom. To think, no advertising and no SPAM for a modest fee.

I am wondering whether to get a paid Yahoo mail premium account or go with Spam Arrest. SpamArrest does offer 100% protection, but it's $34.99 a year instead of $19.99 a year. Any advice?

I just signed up for spam arrest. *Almost* as good as mailblocks, but personally, I'll really miss the IMAP. But - one good thing is that in can forward your non-spam email to another email account. So, if I ever find a good IMAP service, I'll forward it there. I *do* like that the whitelist is separate from the address book; this will let me keep my address book clean. Here's a link for mailblocks users to get a free 90-day trial:

I actually went with a member account ($14.99 one time charge) with They don't offer POP unless you get a recurring charge account, so I'm using IMAP for now. It is lightning fast and seems to meet my needs. However, I really miss Mailblocks very elegant screen.. nothing comes close. The new AIM webmail which is based on elements of Mailblocks is nice but has a HUGE and I mean HUGE ad on the top. Plus, unlike Fastmail it doesn't allow you to check other services. The one thing that Mailblocks does that almost nobody else did is check my basic Yahoo account.

MAILBOCKS I'LL MISS YOU. I have been reasonably happy with mailblocks for over a year (can't remember it's been so long - I think 2 years). I check my email 30 times a day and get about 50 legit emails and about 100 spams (never seen) per day. Yes there have been outages (it's been slow a few times just in the last couple days) but it was worth it.

There's absolutely no way I'm going over to AOL. How embarassing.

I have been a long time user of Mailblocks, I particularly liked it for my daughter's account, she very very rarely got any spam, whitelisting worked well. I am saddened that they are closing down. Reminds me of Telocity's passing after being acquired by DirecTV. Even though I hate all thing AO-Hell I signed up for the free AIM account just to see, but have been unable to find any challenge/response function. Plus I tried to login just now and got "Server too Busy". Guess I will look at Spam Arrest. Sigh.

FYI: I emailed Spam Arrest customer support today, and they *DO* offer IMAP access, for some reason they just don't mention it anywhere :P

I also found out the follow two tidbits of useful information:

1. They are getting a lot of mailblocks converts, and are working on adding the few features that mailblocks has that they don't.

2. If you signup for the trial, and wait a day, you will get a special offer for 2 additional months free with your subscription. This cuts the cost a bit, and apparently they are constantly running renewal promotions, so you'll end up paying less than the standard $34.95/yr.


$34.95 is still a LOT to pay for e-mail service annually. What kind of renewal promotions do they offer?

It looks my mailblocks incoming mail is being delayed about 48 hours. Anyone else having this problem?