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coping with my ISP's problems


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My ISP (BTW, it's not Comcast) contracts with another company to handle incoming and outgoing mail. That same company also contracts with some other ISPs to do the same thing. I checked a couple of blocklist lookups and it appears that over a dozen blocklists are blocking the IP addresses for that company's outbound mail servers. (In fact, because I have all of spamcop's blocklists turned on, if I sent mail to myself it would go in the "held mail"!)

When we send mail to a few of our friends and relatives, it gets rejected. Sometimes it's a hard bounce. Sometimes it's the vague Persistent Transient Failure. These people don't have any trouble getting mail from anybody else.

I can't change my ISP. This ISP is the only broadband available to me. I live across the road from a corn field and I am lucky to have broadband at all.

I have contacted my ISP (including the highest-up person I could find an address for) and I have gotten form-letter replies that say "we apologize for the inconvenience, we are aware of this problem, we are working on it". I am not going to waste any more time on that.

As an experiment, I changed my SMTP to my myrealbox account. I sent test mails to the people who were not getting our mail at the time. They went through without a hitch. It worked fine for about a day. Then I started getting errors saying that myreabox's SMTP server couldn't be reached. Don't know whether that was a temporary myrealbox outage or whether they started rejecting my attempts to connect, but my wife was not happy and I am not going to try myrealbox's SMTP again.

We are low volume e-mail users. We only send a few e-mails a day and receive a few e-mails a day (other than the spam and viruses, which spamcop catches). But we are tired of wondering whether our mail is being received or not.

Services like fastmail.fm, runbox.com and softhome.net offer SMTP and cost $20 to $30 a year. All I would need is the SMTP; I don't need the POP. I would gladly pay for one of these if it is reliable and if it is not spammy and therefore subject to the same blocking issues.

Am I looking at this the right way? Could one of these services solve my problem? Is there another solution that I'm overlooking? Thanks!

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MyRealBox's SMTP service is usually reliable, but has some overload issues. Your mail program should be able to attempt redelivery to MyRealBox as often as it tries to POP.

What are the IP addresses for that company's outbound mail servers?


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Yes, you are looking at this problem right! There are some Comcast users who also have the same problem - want broadband and they are the only ones offering it!

I am really happy with hotmail (free account). It can be downloaded into Outlook Express. One of my accounts there has rarely gotten spam and hotmail has some sort of filtering now that even the accounts that got spam don't now.

If you change email addresses, use numeric characters in the middle of the name - that discourages dictionary spammers. i.e. o1d45jack

There is also spamcop email service. Lots of people are happy with that.

Miss Betsy

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Thanks to both of you for your replies!

The IPs are:

(There may be others, but those are the ones I know of.)

I did some more research after I posted and maybe found a possible reason for the myrealbox SMTP errors: some SMTP providers don't like it when someone uses a "from" address that's from a different domain--they don't want spammers using their SMTP to send stuff out under fake addresses. I wasn't using my myrealbox address as the "from" address. We try to uniformly use a single e-mail address that we've had since 1995 (except for web page mailto's & other mail to people we don't know, for which we use spamgourmet addresses).

We have a spamcop e-mail account, but we use it just for the spam/virus blocking. BTW, that suggestion about using an address that is not susceptible to dictionary attacks is a very good one. I don't think our spamcop e-mail address is guessable, and we keep it under wraps.

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