I thought I’d take a few minutes to mention changes that have been happening with increasing frequency on the Internet regarding email. One of the typical calls we get from our web clients contains the following dialogue:
“My email had been working just fine, but all of a sudden I can’t send emails anymore. My outgoing emails are just building up in my out box.”
While not absolutely always the case, in probably 99% of the cases, this has occurred because the web clients’ ISP (Internet Service Provider) has incorporated a change in one or more of its email servers. What this means is that the Internet path between your home or business and where your Internet provider connects you to the actual Internet is changed.
Why this has happened
Different “Ports” are used to connect different “services” to the the Internet. Services are different things like “web pages” and “email” and many, many other things. Ports are numbered from 1 to 65535. Port 25 has been the “standard” port number to send email out to your mail server. Obviously, the spammers know this – and to efficiently send spam out from your machine once they have hacked into it and installed their malware, they usually use the standard port. So the ISP’s reasoning behind this particular change is supposedly to impede the spammers’ efforts by making their software ineffective.
We at CharlesWorks have had direct website and email server experience since 1985. The unfortunate reality is that there does not appear to be any evidence to support that blocking port 25 has slowed down spamming to any noticeable extent. It is fairly common knowledge that spamming has continued to increase at a very regular rate.
What blocking port 25 HAS done, however, is burdened ALL of the other companies – small and large alike – that are running legitimate web and email hosting operations (like CharlesWorks) with having to deal with these surprise switches when they happen.
To add insult to injury, the ISPs (in this area like Fairpoint, Comcast, Time Warner, Road Runner, Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, and the many other who are the major Internet connectivity suppliers in nearly all other geographical areas) exhibit blatant disregard for both us AND their own Internet customers. The disregard occurs when they do not even bother to notify their own customers they are blocking port 25 – leaving their customers to simply wonder why their emails can’t be sent. To make matters worse, the ISP’s support personnel usually have no idea that this is a problem or that such a change has been implemented and therefore attempt to blame the email hosting companies, who have no control over this situation. Truly a case, within the ISPs of being so big that one hand is not knowing what the other is doing.
We service almost 3,000 websites and every one of our clients who have spoken with their ISPs like Fairpoint, Comcast, Time Warner, Road Runner or any of the other major Internet connectivity suppliers in our geographical area, have indicated that those companies actually deny that they “block” any of their customer’s port access. Hence, people are left with not knowing what to do!
What you can actually do about it
As a workaround for this, CharlesWorks uses email servers that have made port 587 available as a usable option in addition to port 25. This means the mail server doesn’t care which of these ports email comes in on. If your mailbox was a room in your house, think of the additional port as being another doorway into that same room.
Generally speaking, you will not run into this problem if you use web based email. That’s where you can get and send email by going to a web page at an address like http://mail.yourdomain.com and entering your login information (note that we suggest you use a mail client software and not web mail, as web mail is more often used as a backup way into your email or a way to mark spam and perform other housekeeping duties).
To resolve this if you are using what’s called an email client (like Outlook, or Thunderbird, or Windows Mail, or Outlook Express, to name a few) you must go into your email software and change the outgoing email (often times referred to as the SMTP or Simple Mail Transport Protocol) port from port 25 to port 587. Usually, it’s someplace in where there are advanced settings or more settings.
If you need specific details on how to do this in some particular software that you are using (like Outlook or Eudora or Thunderbird or whatever) you should contact whomever made the software (like Microsoft in the case of Outlook and so on), or whoever handles your IT needs, as we do not produce or maintain those software products. We have some very basic information for initially hooking up a few email clients at http://CharlesWorks.tk but, as stated earlier, the very best informational source is the software vendor or creator.
In November 1977, Charles Oropallo authored and implemented a Bulletin Board System (BBS) called Access-80. Such systems were the forerunners to much of what is in use today. It operated on a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model I, Level II microcomputer. There were only a handful of such systems online for public use on the entire planet at that time. It provided personal messaging for local computer enthusiasts. It went online in East Greenbush, NY with a 300 baud modem and home brewed auto answering device. Relative speed and technological changes have been immense – today’s dialup at its fastest speed is 53,000 bits per second compared to 300 then!
Access-80 was also concurrently placed online in Schenectady, NY. Then, in 1982, Charles moved from the Albany, NY area to Nashua, NH, and so did Access-80. Charles’s original Nashua Access-80 setup is shown at http://Access-80.com. Before long Access-80 was concurrently online in Londonderry NH as well as Nashua. Access-80 remained online until 1987.
Charles founded CharlesWorks in June of 1998 in order to provide reliable and affordable hosting solutions. At that time he was only providing Internet connectivity for several personal and organizational websites at very low speed. Over time, Charles’s desire to provide reliable (as well as still being affordable) Internet solutions moved CharlesWorks into more commercially oriented markets. Charles still helps individuals get personal sites on the web.