Saturday, January 22, 2005

 

What's the deal with email?

While I'm in the mood for blogging about technology, a lot of mobile workers encounter problems sending email while on the road. This is typically not the case for those workers who are part of a firm which offers a Virtual Private Network (VPN) client into a corporate network with its own mail server.

People who have email problems when working remotely are usually trying to use their particular ISP's email server. How come it works from home, but not from an hotel, or Starbucks? How come I can read my mail, but can't send? What's going on?

The reason is that users are being defeated intentionally by measures put in place to make life more difficult for Spammers - those pests who clog mail systems and inboxes with pitches for mortgages, viagra, cheap software, rolexes, and so on.

Mail is sent using a protocol called Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP). To send mail, your mail client, such as Outlook or Thunderbird, initiates a connection to a computer which is set up to put mail on the Internet - an SMTP Server. SMTP servers listen on port 21.

You're sat in a hotel plugged into their network or wireless at Starbucks or an airport. You can't send mail. You're being defeated by the following measures, some or all of which may be in effect:



The answer is to create separate profiles depending on what internet provider you're using. If you're in a hotel room on dialup to Earthlink, you have to send all mail via smtp.balista.com. Don't ask me why, but that's the name of Earthlink's SMTP server. So you'll need to create a profile with these details for when you're connected via Earthlink.

If you're connected at home via Comcast, you'll need to create a profile which sends mail via smtp.comcast.net.


Good luck!



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