How important/necessary is "transactional email" services for WordPress ?

Am I wrong to assume that people run WordPress sites (and possibly even large ones) without "transactional email" services from "Mailgun", "Mandrill", "Sendgrid" etc. ?

There seems to be information describing what these services do but not necessarily describing its importance and necessity which leads me to believe that they are NOT that necessary.

Lets say a website visitor signs up to a BuddyPress site as a new member, what shoots off the various emails such as "confirmation", "admin notification" etc. ?

Would all these emails not be sent out just fine without any further outdated SMTP plugin from wordpress repository ?

Is it that some shared hosting servers cannot send large amounts of emails and this causes emails to not be received etc. ?

I can understand/accept this for auto sending large amounts of emails in a BuddyPress site, but this is also important for receiving email via an online form ? I have read these transactional services are way better at blocking spam than any wordpress spam plugin.

And finally how does these services affect a multisite ?
If paying for such a services, every email transaction though the multisite network would be taken into consideration (billed)

Any kind thoughts/assistance in this would be greatly appreciated.

kind regards,


  • Michelle Shull

    Hiya, Randall!

    The biggest issue is that WordPress natively uses PHP mail, which isn't allowed on all servers, isn't that efficient, and it can really choke up resources. I've always transferred the handling of email away from WordPress on my sites because it's, by necessity, such a resource hog.

    If you're relying on WordPress's mail only to send registration notifications, it's fine, and likely won't cause you any major issues behind the scenes, but as soon as you start having it attempt to batch mail a large group, everything can slow down, and that may prevent all of the emails from reaching their destination.

    Ultimately, PHP mail is even more out-dated than SMTP, and while both these options are free (there are some pro SMTP plugins, I think), they are pretty limited in scope. Using a third party service will give you more features, less resource usage on your own server, and a more modern way to control your site email.

    I have a pretty big site I only use WP's PHP mail on, but I don't send a lot of user communication at all, so it's not used that frequently, thus, it meets my needs. If you're going to be relying on email you have to have 111% faith in, 111% of the time, a third-party service may meet your needs a little better, or at least give you a little more peace of mind that everything is getting where it needs to be.

    Hope this helps!

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