Help! I Can’t Send Email!


As I’ve said, a couple of weeks ago I was invited on a trip to Scottsdale, AZ to hang out with my friends over at Bosch Appliances.  Don’t worry, there are still induction cooktops and super quiet dishwashers to discuss on that front.  While I was there my friend Angry Julie gave me a great idea for a post.  We were all hanging out in the hot tub, when she started complaining that her emails weren’t sending.  I knew the problem immediately, as I quite frequently run into this.  Most people don’t quite know what the deal is, so I’ll tell you.

Email travels over a specific port (remember last time we talked about ports?)  A port is just the “channel” that data communicates on.  Email typically travels over port 25 (especially if it’s not encrypted, which is the subject of a whole other post).  Many open wifi access points, like that of a hotel or a coffee shop, will block this particular port.  This will make it so that you can recieve mail fine, but all of your messages just sit in your outbox and don’t go anywhere.  Your email won’t send.

Why would open wifi access points do this?  They want to ruin your day, Right?  You have important messages to send!  The reason they do it is because of spammers.  If there was a malicious person staying at the hotel, or having coffee at the shop, they could take over other people’s computers (not in a moving your mouse kind of way) or even use their own computer to send out thousands upon thousands of spam messages.  If this were to happen (the thousands of spam messages coming from a specific place) the spam blacklist servers will pick up on it and block all messages coming from that location.  So now, even the employees of the company can’t send legitimate messages until the block has been removed.  To avoid all of this headache they will just block port 25 and be done with it.

Now how can you get around this lovely block?  There are a couple ways.  The super simple way is to just use a web interface for your email.  Sign onto gmail’s website, or use your company’s webmail access.  You should be able to send messages fine if you do it from a website.  The other much more complicated way is to get your email provider to use a different port than port 25 to communicate email messages.

So now that you know why those messages are staying in your outbox, all dressed up with no where to go, hopefully you can immediately go to the solution instead of ripping your hair out trying to figure out what is wrong with your computer.

 


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