Shortly after my email went dark, I started to think that the problem had something to do with the DNS records, and that the people to resolve it with were at BlueHost. On my first contact with them, someone said something to the effect of "just point mail to [a certain IP address], and it'll work fine." Nice, except I had no idea how to do that, and apparently the BlueHost support guy didn't either. He altered my DNS records according to my understanding of what needed to happen, and I hung up the phone. A lot of time passed, and of course things didn't improve. I spoke to someone at BlueHost again, and he pointed me to WhatsMyDNS.net, saying that my DNS settings had not replicated to places such as Mumbai India, and that once the settings were propagated, everything would be fine. I hung up, only to find that things weren't better the next morning.
I called again. This time, the guy said that some of my DNS records were definitely not correct. He adjusted them for me, and said things should be working soon. They weren't. I checked WhatsMyDNS and saw a red x on every server.
Given my new understanding of how these updates propagate, it seemed unreasonable to expect that the changes had to replicate everywhere before I would see any emails. I also thought it odd that no green checkmarks were showing after several hours.
When I called BlueHost again, I said “I think the support guy gave me the correct fix yesterday…” and he immediately said “Nope.” This time, instead of directing me to edit the record as the previous tech had, he simply made the change. The culprit was an improperly configured MX record. Within seconds, green checks started showing on WhatsMyDNS. A second or so later, my first email (a promo piece from Moo.com) came through. Within a minute or two, 36 more messages came in. I was back in business.
Over the next hour or so, additional emails came in. The outage had started around 5pm Friday and lasted until about 10am today (Wednesday). I had thought that all of the messages sent to me during that time had spiraled off into a black hole. I've now received several emails that were sent as far back as Saturday afternoon. At least some of them did not suffer that fate (and hopefully none did).