Looking for an SMTP relay

my isp keeps bouncing outbound messages with the sad excuse that they’re spam. they’re not. but this isp has some really stunned rules. worse, i can’t even tell what criteria they’re using to classify my missives as spam. last one was a link to a blog posting that they host …

so i’m looking to cut them out of my messaging chain. i’d switch isps but i’ve an ancient photoblog running on movable type 3.5 and moving that would be -er- challenging. thus i’m trying to find an smtp relay.

problem is that internet search returns mass-mailing sites. that’s not a solution. or better, that’s not a solution i want.

has anyone identified an smtp relay site that isn’t involved in mass-mailings?


Wouldn’t getting an email account with a provider like FastMail or easyMail provide an SMTP server you could use? Those aren’t free, but perhaps there are some that are.

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I used to use mailgun.com for this, but I left them when they raised prices beyond my budget. AWS has also email relaying, if you don’t mind digging into the technical details. What I finally settled on was pobox.com, which has been great for over a year now.

You could try to find a better ISP, move your domain to them, enter DNS records
(A-record) that point to your legacy website, use the email services of the new ISP.
Job done. Alternatively just point the MX records to the new ISP. No need really for an SMTP relay, although it would work.

Any open relay on the Internet today will be blacklisted because they’re all used for spamming.

Are you using an ISP-assigned mailbox? If so, you might not have a choice.

If you’re using a third-party e-mail service (iCloud mail, GMail, Yahoo, etc.), then you probably shouldn’t use your ISP’s SMTP server. As a matter of fact, using it may be one of the criteria contributing to them classifying messages as spam.

Every legitimate e-mail service should provide an SMTP server for use with mail that uses their mailboxes. You should configure your mail app to send outbound mail through the corresponding service’s SMTP server.

Some third-party mail services might let you use their SMTP server for mail with other domains’ (like your ISP’s) mailboxes as return addresses. Some may allow any address as long as you properly authenticate your SMTP access. Others may require you to register the external address with them in order to allow them. If this is something you’d like to try, check their on-line documentation to see if and how it is allowed.

hullo folks,

the pobox.com solution that @bb1 suggested looks to be exactly what i want. going to give it a try.

thanks for the replies!

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sigh …

followed up with pobox support. their solution involves pointing my MX record to their servers. they’d then forward my email to another inbox. the only way that would work was to forward to my gmail account, which definitely doesn’t work (i have a private domain to attempt to evade the prying eyes of the oompa loompa). alternatively they can provide an inbox but $50/year on top of what i’m paying for my current provider is excessive.

they confirmed that they don’t provide a stand-alone smtp relay service.

looks like i may have to migrate to another isp. made an abortive stab at that and can attest that namecheap hosting should probably be avoided. talk about bait and switch!

Sorry for the false lead on pobox, I guess I didn’t understand what you were trying to accomplish. I think if you’re looking for a free, open relay you might have a hard time finding a solution, but AWS does offer various mail services for the technically inclined.

no worries. it looked like it’d be a good option but once i got the details from their support folks, it wasn’t. but definitely worth checking out. their support people are very responsive.

your suggestion of aws is a worthy one as well. looking into it. looks like their simple email service is a “free forever” offering. wondering though if that makes me the product, as is the case for most google services.

No, I don’t think there’s any concern with Amazon’s SES and privacy. The free level is just too small for nearly any business, and it’s complicated to set up. We use it for Sendy, but that’s a matter of API keys and secret keys and things like that, not standard SMTP. I think you can do standard SMTP too.


You should check out the Amazon SES pricing page:


It seems that the free tier is only for emails sent from AWS EC2 or AWS Lambda server instances. But, $0.10 for 1,000 emails sent is very cheap. And even with $0.12 for each GB of attachments, it’s still cheap.

I’m confused as to your current setup. You seem to be referring to isp and namecheap web hosting as the same entity. I tried to visit namecheap.com to see if they also offer isp services, but they have a captcha wall. (I avoid doing unpaid labor for google whenever possible). If namecheap is only hosting your website, email, and domain name, you can move some or all somewhere else. If the website is complex and relies on special namecheap features, moving just the domain and mail would be easiest.

Which services do you use from namecheap? I’m assuming webhosting (they run the servers, unlike vps where you run your own servers), domain name registrar, and email hosting.

One simple and fairly easy solution would be to move the domain name to somewhere such as gandi.net which includes email service as part of the fee (2 accounts (3 gb each) and unlimited aliases), and then point the website name to the namecheap web servers. Since privacy is of value to you they’re located in france, so there are actual privacy laws involved.

Gandi Email - Personalized Emails, Email Service — Gandi.net

Back in Eudora days, I had to set up gmail to do this. I often found when I was traveling I couldn’t send any emails but using the gmail relay let it work. The downfall was that sometimes a persons reply would go to gmail instead of my actual email.

The other option that worked for me was logging into the hosts backend but that meant I’d lose the record of the sent email on my computer (POP3 days).

I haven’t done this since moving to Apple Mail but I am seeing more frequent refusals to send with my current hosts (including comcast) so I get your frustration!

finally got annoyed enough with my hosting provider (after they declined to transmit yet another email because it contained a link to the website they host – d’uh!) that i attempted to set up an aws smtp relay. got stymied by amazon’s requirement that i present a website and reasoning to exempt my account from their sandboxing. the business case amazon is enabling is a bulk email service. which is not what i’m looking for.

also amazon declined to even attempt to accept my creditcard. huh?

so my quest for an smtp relay continues …