back to article BSkyB punters drown in MASSIVE MYSTERY Yahoo! mail! migration!

Thousands of old and duplicated emails are flooding the inboxes of irritated BSkyB customers - after the media giant dumped Google's Gmail overnight and turned to Yahoo! to run its message service. The migration to Yahoo!'s servers, which happened with little or no warning for some users, was branded a total cock-up by Register …

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FAIL

People still use ISP mailboxes ?

I learnt a long time ago not to rely upon your ISP for email.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: People still use ISP mailboxes ?

Well, they are using Sky as an ISP - it's not like they are clued up....

I'm surprised they went to Yahoo, Outlook.com is by far the best webmail at the moment. I can only assume that was a commercial decision. i.e. Yahoo were more desperate for customers to help slow the sinking hip...

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Re: People still use ISP mailboxes ?

My in-laws were briefly with Sky, having been internet newbies at the time.

They then moved and I set up a Gmail account for them, and set it up to download their Sky email for them via POP. From what I understand Sky will continue to let them check their old email accounts in the future, although I made sure the in-laws knew to tell their contacts of the change of email address just in case. It has worked quite well.

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Re: People still use ISP mailboxes ?

Pray tell exactly how you send emails without using your ISP? I'm on Sky and they seem very happy to bin any connection to port 25 to anywhere except themselves.

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Re: People still use ISP mailboxes ?

Simple. Get a email service with an alternate mail port other than 25. I expect even outlook.com will do this. Especially if you use SSL email. I know you can do it with GMAIL and even YAHOO mail.

Even better, if you are on El'Reg you should know how to sign up to a decent email hosting company with proper SMTP support. Shouldn't cost you much. Then it is all under YOUR control without any advertising mess.

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WTF?

Re: People still use ISP mailboxes ? @Natalie Gritpants

I suggest you read this book before you post again.

http://www.amazon.com/E-Mail-Dummies-Second-Edition-Levine/dp/0764501313

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Childcatcher

Re: People still use ISP mailboxes ?

the other issue they are going to make now is that yahoo currently have an hole in their network that is allowing spammers to simply access your account scan all email addresses (and emails that are in all folders) and then Mass spam all of them, so this means now all @sky.com email customers can now be hijacked for spam (note the user done not have to click on any thing the account can also be surpended account as well)

http://thenextweb.com/insider/2013/03/06/despite-its-efforts-to-fix-vulnerabilities-yahoos-mail-users-continue-reporting-hacking-incidents/ (ignore users who have lost there accounts as they likey gave there passowrd away)

note this is not an password compromise they do not seem to be getting your password they can just use your account like it has no password, the only time you notice something has happened is if you get failed mail delivery messages and you check the ""View your recent sign-in activity"" in your account page to see where you have logged in

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Re: People still use ISP mailboxes ?

I'm on sky, at the time the attraction of anytime plus for swmbo, and the the higher speeds given by an LLU connection makes sense. The unlimited downloads means I do not have to worry about how many Downloading HD movies are downloaded.

As an ISP I treat it as 'wires only' and use 1and1 for email, outgoing mail goes on port 587, and have had no problems with either Sky or T-Mobile with using this port.

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Re: People still use ISP mailboxes ?

Forgot to add that I have refused accept the T & Cs for yahoo, and didn't use the google based email.

The first I knew of any problems was reading El Reg.

Sky communicate with me via my 1and1 based account.

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migration notification

not warned? I received many e-mails, even months ago foretelling the move.

P

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Re: migration notification

So did I, the email I recieved even hinted at the date the migration would take place:

"Further to our emails over the past few months, we wanted to send you one final reminder that, in April 2013, our Sky Email service will be changing to Sky Yahoo! Mail.

If you don't accept before 4 April, you will lose access to your account. "

The people who "received no warning", obviously don't read their emails.

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Re: migration notification

Agreed - first notification on 19th December last year, followed by reminders on 12th Feb, 22nd Feb, 20th Mar, 26th Mar...

Having decided we didn't want to migrate and were happy to lose the account, the frustration was not having a "Yup - I'm good, stop sending reminders now" button.

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WTF?

Re: migration notification

Yup - same here. I was a bit puzzled over the decision to use Yahoo, but I don't really use my Sky e-mail account much anyway.

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Re: migration notification

Yes, I had many such e-mails, explaining what the move was (Goggle to Yahoo), what the restrictions would be (no IMAP) etc. Since I have never even logged in to my Sky email account (my Sky TV account is associated with a different email address) I ignored them, but to say this move was "without warning" is simply not true.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: migration notification

"...not warned? I received many e-mails, even months ago foretelling the move."

Its not really the answer though IMHO. Some companies make these kinds of changes far to often!

As the go-to tech guy for family and friends I've noticed three demographics of people who take notice of admin related emails about as much as junk email... Namely: the elderly, young families, and the super busy. IMHO companies don't do enough to account for and notify these groups of people already saturated in FB notifications...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: migration notification

...The 'well I knew' attitude.... Jesus IT people can be insensitive sometimes. Not everyone is a Reg reader checking email hundreds of times a day.

I use FREESAT, but I feel for the elderly or for busy young families that have gotten bitten by this change, just because they were travelling or don't consume admin emails.... Its interesting how some email systems haven't changed at all in 25+ years and go on working just fine. Whereas some Telcos / Tech corps keep breaking things!

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Re: migration notification

Nobody is saying "Well I knew". They're only pointing out that the article states "without warning to Sky's subscribers" which is clearly incorrect as Sky started sending out emails last year which is ample time for anyone who actually uses the account to take notice.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: migration notification

Plenty of warnings from Sky. I have had clients of mine contacting me about this for months.

And I don't know why people are claiming this "constantly happens with ISPs". From memory, in the last decade: NTL\Virgin dumped their own mail for Gmail and not moved since. BT have been with YahooMail since they out sourced years back. Sky have only just migrated for the first time as I think they started out on gmail and never did their own hosting. Can't remember what TalkTalk do...

It is far easier to complain and whine on a forum than actually accept what is happening. The ISPs certainly do not "do this all the time".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: migration notification

I have done it once from a home grown system to an EU wide system that was supposed to be wonderful (Well it was priced as if it should be the solution to world peace). In the end it just cost loads of money and was really unreliable for a fair while.

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Angel

Re: migration notification

sky email system was Inhouse they moved to google mail long time ago and that was an cockup as sky changed the Mail servers from mail.sky.com to tools.mail.sky.com so they basicly broke every customer email clients in that stupid move when all they had to do was point mail.sky.com to google servers (now i guess yahoo but not changed the tools.mail.sky.com)

only benefit was i got a lot of call outs to fix email settings

sky have changed there email services twice now and not for the better as now all sky customers can be used to spam any one

http://thenextweb.com/insider/2013/03/06/despite-its-efforts-to-fix-vulnerabilities-yahoos-mail-users-continue-reporting-hacking-incidents/

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Anonymous Coward

Re: migration notification

@Shasta McNasty

Accept your point. However I think this Sky issue raises a bigger question over EXPECTATION OF SERVICE. Why did Sky make this change? Their explanation is vague. And from another Reg story this week its clear that Yahoo mail is below par versus Google.

I feel we need added consumer protections for paid services that guarantee the service will remain intact for a minimum period of time, and not always be abruptly sacrificed to the whims of outsourcing or switching to lower cost providers.

For example Vodafone support was outsourced to India in recent years, it now takes over a month to get a useless scripted reply. Whereas O2 still responds with local native English speakers who understand and can help better. I don't think regulated corps such as Telcos or TV / Sat providers should be able to make outsourcing or service changes on a CEO / CIO cost cutting whim...

In this case, I think users should be given a fixed number of years service regarding an email address, so that slow lane or busy families aren't overly penalized. After all, plenty of free email providers have been offering email services for over a quarter century without interruption. Email hosting is not all that expensive!

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FAIL

Re: migration notification

What would you have Sky do? Send vans around to every single customer's home? If people are clever enough to have and use email then they should be clever enough to read the ISPs noticies about that service also.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: migration notification @Shasta McNasty 5/4/13 14:41

----

Shasta McNasty 5/4/13 14:41

"Nobody is saying "Well I knew". They're only pointing out that the article states "without warning to Sky's subscribers" which is clearly incorrect as Sky started sending out emails last year which is ample time for anyone who actually uses the account to take notice."

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Shasta McNasty 5/4/13 12:58

So did I, the email I recieved even hinted at the date the migration would take place:

"Further to our emails over the past few months, we wanted to send you one final reminder that, in April 2013, our Sky Email service will be changing to Sky Yahoo! Mail.

If you don't accept before 4 April, you will lose access to your account. "

The people who "received no warning", obviously don't read their emails.

----

Short memory or blatant liar?

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Re: migration notification

They also say it's no problem, you can accept anytime up to the end of April and it will work.

Oh dear. Load of rubbish.

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FAIL

Not without warning

The article says this happened without warning, but it's certainly something I was aware of. My folks are Sky BB customers and when I went round to visit in late February, my Mum showed me a copy of an email from Sky about this, followed by the "you're the IT expert...what are we supposed to do about this then?"

My answer was, of course, follow the instructions in the email, then sit back and expect a complete fiasco like the one you experienced when they ported email services over to Google a few years ago.

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Facepalm

I guess they should read some of the deleted emails

"The migration to Yahoo!'s servers, which happened without warning to Sky's subscribers, has been branded a total cock-up by Register readers."

I have had about three emails to my sky account telling me the switch was going to happen and having just checked, the following email was sent to me on the 27th:

"The change to Sky Yahoo! Mail is just around the corner – 4 April to be exact. We thought it'd be helpful to remind you of the important things you need to know, to make sure you're ready for the change.

We'll start switching over to Sky Yahoo! Mail late in the evening on 3 April and your webmail will be unavailable for a few hours during the night. As there is a lot of information being carefully transferred, it may take up to 24 hours for everything to appear for you, so here's when you can expect to see things in your new mailbox:

Emails – we aim to have all your emails copied across within 24 hours of the launch. This means you may not see your most recent emails right away, so if there are any important emails you'll need on 4 April itself (for example flight tickets), please make sure you've printed them off beforehand

Contacts – To ensure your contacts are available for you to use immediately on 4 April, we will transfer a copy from 31 March. We would suggest that you avoid adding, modifying or deleting any contacts between these dates as the changes may not be replicated in your new account.

Calendar – Your calendar will be copied across as soon as we have finished copying your emails and contacts

If you usually access Sky Email using an email client, for example Outlook, don't forget you may need to change your connection settings to see your emails coming through on 4 April. Just visit our help page for more info.

Finally, as part of the switch we will transfer your mail, calendar and contacts, but there may be some information that you'll need to back up, such as your filter settings. This is because some Sky Email features will work a little differently in Sky Yahoo! Mail, but please visit our help page for more information."

So I'm not sure what isn't clear in there about the switch.

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Re: I guess they should read some of the deleted emails

I read this post with increasing amusement until I reached the final sentence: "So I'm not sure what isn't clear in there about the switch." which I thought was being said in a deliciously ironic tone.

Unfortunately, I then realised no irony was intended, and that it was a serious post from someone who presumably works for Sky.

Ouch!

Those instructions are long and complicated, suitable for someone with an IT background but not for the average person in the street. Classic case of instructions being written by technical staff with no thought for the diversity of the audience they may be addressing. Written, in fact, as one technical person would write to another technical person.

I don't know Sky's demographic profile, but I assume someone in the organisation does, so perhaps they should have used this information in formulating an appropriate set of communications.

The fact that the article suggests that the forums are in meltdown means that people would probably not be able to find suitable assistance from the help page in this instance.

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Re: I guess they should read some of the deleted emails

What's not clear is they failed to mention that they have screwed tens of thousands of e-mail accoounts and they won't be able to sort it until the 8th at the earliest. Doesn't mention that anywhere.

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Re: I guess they should read some of the deleted emails

Nope, work for a housing association in Edinburgh.

The bit in between the quotation marks are... quotations, the first from the article, the second from the only email in my Sky email account dated the 27th March, the last sentence is me stating my belief that the email points out in precise detail what is happening with the switch. Whether the lay person understands it, I don't know, I haven't actually read through it all, but from a quick glance could work out what was happening.

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Joke

I bet the shareholders are hoping a lot of people went over their data allowance because of this.

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Anonymous Coward

You would have had to have a hell of a lot of emails to make a significant difference. And doesn't it just speed cap you when you go over?

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the majority of sky broadband is uncapped, i think its just the free one that is capped.

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Reg Readers Fuming?

where would that be? certainly not the comments section...unless the author means the total cock up of stating that users were not warned when it is quite apparent that they were.

Oh el reg...wherefore art thou?

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Pirate

Re: Reg Readers Fuming?

Never let the truth get in the way of a good headline and story

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Devil

Re: Reg Readers Fuming?

Do Reg readers do anything else in the comments section?

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FAIL

Hardly a mystery ....

As others have pointed out, it's hardly a 'mystery' given that emails pertaining to the changeover were sent out quite a while ago. On several occasions, in fact.

What's probably more annoying is the fact that I *didn't* accept the terms of the changeover, since I trust Yahoo! Mail even less than I trust GMail, yet still have access to my account. Not that this is a major issue, mind, since all it seems to attract nowadays is spam - if I lose access to it then I'm not exactly going to lose any sleep over it.

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It'll get worse

Yahoo! provide BT.com mail in the UK. If the service is as bad for Sky as with BT then users will have to get used to a few other problems:

- IMAP doesn't work very well,

- deleted mails reappear in the Inbox after a while (I think this is an IMAP implementation problem);

- continual reporting of password problems or access problems,

- you can't control the spam filters. Even with the BT spam filters turned off on my BT account stuff is still sent to my spam folders, but what's worse is that the Yahoo! servers filter out mails that Yahoo! considers to be spam before it even gets to the BT spam filters. The problem is that Yahoo! filters out real messages -- e.g. from the Whois service warning you of domain expiry.

To be fair BT don't offer an IMAP facility but you can download the settings from the BT forums and it sort of works.

At the risk of this post becoming unbelievable, BT have been very helpful over the last couple of months and tried very hard to fix it - including putting me in touch directly with Yahoo!. However, it's still not fixed and I'm in the process of moving all my important registration contacts away from BT internet (i.e. Yahoo!) mail to something more reliable.

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Wait, they run an ISP...

...but cannot even set up their own mail server? I mean come on, a mail server, that's a service which ran by default on most Linux distributions until a few years ago.

Negotiating the contracts with Google/Yahoo is probably harder than setting up a mail server, they have only got a few million customers.

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Re: Wait, they run an ISP...

Large companies like BT, Sky, etc, like outsourcing large parts of their service for multiple reasons, but I think the biggest one is transfer of liability. The supplier is responsible for providing a stated uptime and there are financial penalties if they don't. If they ran the operation in house they wouldn't have that luxury.

Other advantages:

- by bidding the service out you can usually force the price down. In-sourced services are tend to be less flexible on price

- economy of scale. even someone the size of BT or Sky can't pull the tricks that Google pulled with gmail because they don't have enough users

- in most cases you reduce risk from security breaches. if the outsourced platform is compromised, they typically don't have a stepping point into the internal systems of the ISP or other parts of the service.

- reduced liabilities from service improvements and necessary upgrades. I haven't seen one of these contracts, but I would tend to suspect there aren't limits on number of messages per days, etc, it's probably more around numbers of active users. So if a platform (e.g. Facebook or Twitter) comes along, gets very popular and suddenly the number of messages being processed dramatically increases, the ISP is no longer responsible for the cost - the supplier either built it in to their margins or loses out. In either case, the ISP doesn't care, it's not their problem, they just expect it to be fixed.

There are other reasons as well, but I don't particularly want to get into those in a public forum.

Some of the above can also act as downsides, and when outsourcing you can be subject to network instability outside your own network, but I'd best in most of those cases they set up a peering across multiple pubic and private peering points to remove the risk of a transit provider having issues.

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Pirate

Re: Wait, they run an ISP...

If you're not paying for it, you're not the customer. You're the product being sold.

Google offer ISPs great deals to host the mail in gmail simply as it gives them access to search LOTS of detailed information about identifiable customers.

OK, so you think you're paying the ISP for the full service - but would the costs be higher if the ISP had to host the email too? (Don't shoot the messenger)

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WTF?

Re: Wait, they run an ISP...

If you're not paying for it, you're not the customer. You're the product being sold."

Yes, as evidenced by the regurgitation of old and deleted emails still being stored in the account in a way the users can't normally access except during a monumental cock-up such as this current one.

IIRC, there is a legal requirement to retain a record of email contacts, ie who from, who to and (possibly) subject line. Not only is there no requirement in law for service providers to retain the entire email archive, but those very same service providers squealed loudly at the prospect of being ordered to store the requested information based on the costs. The lying bastards were already storing MORE than the legal minimum and yet complained that they needed help with the costs of storing it,.

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Silver badge

Re: Wait, they run an ISP...

Still e-mail is one of their basic businesses. You don't outsource that. Particularly since that is an area of your business people really trust you. You don't give sensitive user data (e-mail) to another company. In fact in Germany that probably even would require explicit permission by the customer.

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Unhappy

Here's a thought...

Slightly worrying bit that no-one seems to have picked up on - if Yahoo are retrieving age old discarded messages from years gone by, are Google retaining your 'deleted' messages?

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Re: Here's a thought...

Might it be that they use POP to download the emails but don't delete from the server - so emails from years ago still exist and are copied over and treated as a new non-downloaded email when POP next checks in.

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FAIL

Re: Here's a thought...

mail downloaded using a client (outlook express) and then deleted from that client typically will remain on the server (providing IMAP is not used)

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Re: Here's a thought...

@Andy_H

That only happens if they reset the POP UID (as seen with the UIDL command). I don't know about Google and Yahoo!, but I know that when I do mail migrations I try and preserve the UID for that very reason.

IMAP is more difficult to preserve UID (for various reasons), but also easier to do migrations for since you don't normally care. Since the read, etc, flags are attributes you can migrate those quite easily and not have to worry about preserving the UID and folder UIDVALIDITY.

The only downside to not preserving UIDVALIDITY/UID in IMAP migrations is that the IMAP client will force a full resync of the headers and message metadata (at least if it follows RFCs), so immediately afterwards the platform can be under much higher load, but that is a one-time deal and most users won't notice the resync.

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Re: Here's a thought...

@An0n

Every day's a school day! It's been years since I've made any use of POP but interesting to know!

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Trollface

Re: Here's a thought...

SSHHH! It's Friday and I'm trying to raise a pitchfork wielding mob to alleviate the boredom. You and your rational explanations are not helping.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Here's a thought...

Google mail makes it a pain to delete messages correctly. A default setup does not listen to the POP or IMAP delete commands correctly. Even when you mess with the settings on the website. Well, Google knows best. And they need to keep all those messages for profiling reasons....

I have had to mess around with a lot of copies of Outlook or similar clients using GMAIL (or ISP versions thereof) and it is annoying how little Google respect the actual email specs. This did not surprise me that all the mail came back during the migration to Yahoo. Have had a couple of clients contacting me today about this.

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Anonymous Coward

...by SIMPLY looking at its user forums....

"....customers could easily learn more about the company's decision to shift from Google to Yahoo! by simply looking at its user forums... when pressed, the Sky spokesman conceded that not everyone uses or is even aware of the company's online discussion boards...."

Sneer!

Can't help but be red-faced when companies take this patronizing approach! I'm not affected, but I imagine there are a few grans or granddads out there being caught out by this. The internet and tech / telcos companies approach to older users in particular is pathetic. Not everyone is reading the Reg everyday, and not everyone has equal knowledge in this tech democracy...

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