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How we set up phplist mail server for email marketing

by | May 30, 2019

Email communication continue to be one of the most extensive business tools.

That’s why, customers often need an open source software for sending bulk email newsletters, marketing campaigns and more.

PhpList mail server comes handy in sending large amount of emails simultaneously.

At Bobcares, we often get requests from our customers to configure phplist mail server as part of our Server Management Services.

Today, we’ll see how our Support Engineers set up a mail server for phplist and fix related errors.


How we set up phplist mail server

The process of composing mails to few friends or contacts is rather easy. But, that’s not the case when you have to address hundreds or thousand contacts. That’s where bulk emailing software like phpList helps.

PhpList is an open source software for sending email newsletters and notifications. Using phplist, we can send a single email to thousands or millions of subscribers. It makes contact management easier too.

Now, let’s see how our Support Engineers set up phplist on a server.

1. Based on the requirements of the customers, we first download phpList from

2. Once we finish the downloading of phplist zip file, we upload it into public_html folder of the website via FTP. For example, we create a folder /lists in public_html and upload the contents into it. Alternatively, we can simply fetch the phpList package directly to the website directory using server root access.

3. Then, we extract this file using File Manager in (Cpanel’s file manager has an option to extract zip files).

4. Next, we create a database by specifying a database name, username, and password.

5. After that, we edit the phplist configuration file config.php, lists > config > config.php. Following that, we enter the database name, username, and password that set up earlier.

6. Then, we login into Next, we click Initialise Database and filled the fields with customer details and click Continue button.

7. Finally, we click to Continue with phpList setup.

PhpList allows to use PHPMailer class and we can set the mail server through which the mails will be sent. Moreover, this helps to add security features like user authentication.

The exact setting of phpList mail server appears as



How we fixed related errors with phplist mail server

From our experience in managing servers, we often see customers facing problems after phpList set up on the server. Let’s take a closer look at how our Support Engineers fixed the problems.


1. Incorrect port

Recently, one of customers came up with a Phplist mail problem. He was getting an error while sending emails.

Can't connect to 995: Connection refused

Then our Support Engineers checked the phpList configuration file, config.php and found that the issue was due to the incorrect mail port setting. So we entered the right port in config.php. Additionally, we checked and confirmed that the mail port is correctly setup in the firewall too. Otherwise, the firewall blocks the connection for the port.


2. Server restrictions

By default, phpList uses the PHP’s default mail() function to send mails.

However, it is less secure than the other mail sending option like SMTP. In order to increase the server security, web hosting companies usually disable the mail() function on the server. This causes problem with phpList too.

In such cases, instead of sending emails via php mail() function, our Support Engineers suggest using the SMTP server in PhpList configuration.


3. Mail server sending limits

Similarly, another customer had a problem with my phplist config. An error occurred when he sent a newsletter. The error said,

Domain has exceeded the max defers and failures per hour (7/5
(26%)) allowed. Message discarded.

This error happens due to the temporary block of the sending domain on the server. The mail server places a block for the domain when there are too many failed deliveries of emails. The reasons for failed mail deliveries include:

  1. Incorrect email addresses in the list
  2. Due to lower email sending limits per hour.

Our Support Engineers fixed this issue by increasing the email sending limits per our to a higher value. In addition, we suggested our customer to verify the email addresses in the phpList. Otherwise, incorrect email address results in a failed delivery of emails and thereby blocking of the domain.


[Getting errors while setting up phpList mail server:? We’ll fix it for you.]



In short, phpList mail server is an open source software for sending emails for millions of customers. Wrong mail server configuration, bad firewall, etc. can result in phpList errors. Today, we saw how our Support Engineers set up PhpList on the server and fixed related errors.


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