Sympatico’s E-mail Woes

The Globe and Mail reports that “Spam is slowing down e-mail all over the world, but subscribers to Canada’s Sympatico Internet service seem to have been particularly hard hit.”

That’s an understatement. We use Sympatico Ultra for Internet access and love it. Our connection is fast and rock solid.

We don’t use Sympatico e-mail accounts. Our mail goes through our own POP3 server so we were unaffected by the problems with incoming e-mail, but because Sympatico blocks port 25 (used by SMTP servers) we have not been able to connect to the outbound servers since moving to Sympatico. So we have been forced to use Sympatico’s outbound servers.

This wasn’t a problem until last week when we started having trouble sending mail. First messages appeared not to send at all. When they did send, we got messages back from recipients wondering why we were sending five or six copies of all our messages. It turns out that Sympatico’s overloaded outbound e-mail servers couldn’t keep up with confirmations from recipient servers and therefore they would keep resending until they got the hint that the messages had indeed gone.

After a few days of this, I threw my hands in the air and said: “there’s got to be a better way”.

After some serious Googling, I discovered “Alternate SMTP Servers”. and (and probably many others) offer simple services where you can send your outbound mail via their servers after connecting on a port other than port 25 (which many ISPs, like Sympatico, now block).

This simple solution seems to have done the trick and after a few days of using DynDNS we seem to be communicating with the world again.

Between this and the increased use of overly-aggressive spam filters, I find myself questioning whether e-mail is getting to people or not. Soon we’ll be back to where we were ten years ago before people started checking e-mail regularly. We’ll have to phone people to say “did you get my e-mail?” Ugh.