So You Can’t Receive Web Form E-mail After Migrating E-mail to G Suite? Here’s Your Issue.

Technical post time! This one involves what may be a confounding issue but actually has a simple solution.

If you’re still using standard webmail as a form of receiving @yourdomain.com E-mail, there will likely come a time when you plan on an upgrade. Webmail servers are prone to intrusions, spam, and a litany of other problems that I’ll probably write about at a later date.  You may choose a managed E-mail provider like ones offered by GoDaddy or Network Solutions, or you may opt for a third party like G Suite or Office 365. Unfortunately, the odds are that you’ll run into a quirk I’ve noticed on occasion with G Suite in particular, since it’s my chosen separate E-mail provider when I migrate or create domain-based E-mails.

Today I moved a customer from Bluehost’s webmail to G Suite. It was a long time coming, since this customer had been plagued by similar webmail-related issues. After a 15 minute wait time for the MX records to propagate I updated the incoming and outgoing mail servers on the customer’s iPhone and confirmed that mail was being received in the new inboxes. All was well.

We adjourned for the day, but I had noticed something off, and once I got home I confirmed it on the (soon to be updated) website, currently using Drupal. This is a client with three web forms styled as ordering forms on their website with E-mails forwarding to ordering@clientname.com. Except, bewilderingly, the contact forms had stopped sending E-mail to the ordering@ E-mail, which we’d set up with G Suite. Despite it being the same E-mail, order forms simply failed to go through.

After multiple checks and rechecks I decided to ask a G Suite representative about the issue. As it turns out this was a common problem. The solution was to simply change ordering@ibcakes.com as the E-mail receiving the web form submission to the following: ordering@clientname.test-google-a.com.

As my support rep Omar helpfully explained, the three forms were not performing an MX lookup and subsequently E-mails were not being received. The modified E-mail address, which works for any domain, is configured so E-mails sent to it will reach the inbox directly without doing an MX lookup.

Or, as Google puts it:

Because your website and your G Suite email address share the same domain name, the mail agent running on the server that hosts your website thinks that it is responsible for mail addressed to your domain name. This is a typical default setting.

When someone submits the form on your website, the mail agent recognizes your domain name and concludes that it should be sending mail to itself. The mail agent will attempt to deliver the message locally.

 

There you have it: A potentially baffling problem with a fairly easy fix. My first instinct was to assume a server side problem with the web forms, but lesson learned: Never rule out the mailing server itself, even when it looks like an isolated problem.