Technical Question

I use a British ISP called TalkTalk. For the past six weeks, I have been unable to send e-mails via the TalkTalk server. I compose my e-mail, and Thunderbird sends it out through port 25, which is the TalkTalk standard. The e-mail is shown as going out, but never arrives.

I have been bombarding the ISP with increasingly angry complaints, but have had no reply – this may be on account of their known inattention to customer complaints.

For a few days after I noticed the problem, I set my outgoing server to Hotmail, which doesn’t use port 25. This worked. Then I signed up to the free option with an American bulk mail server, which uses port 25. This worked.

It may now be that a lot of my outgoing post never arrives when sent through the American port 25 server.

Could this be a problem with my router? Or is it most likely a problem with my ISP?

As an aside, my incoming mail arrives through a private, non-TalkTalk PO3 server. If my outgoing e-mail goes via the American server, does this mean that TalkTalk, and perhaps the British authorities, are unable to monitor my traffic? I’m not practically concerned about being monitored, and the MI5/MI6 budget is so limited, that active spying on people like me may not be an option; and I can’t think of anything I do that would provoke an averagely paranoid state to spying on me.

All help gratefully received.

4 responses to “Technical Question

  1. James Deckard

    I would recommend looking into a ‘droplet’at DigitalOcean. This is a VPS essentially, very quick and easy to set up (less than 5mins) very cheap -eg 512lb ram, 20Gb SSD , 1TB transfer a month for $5! Choice of server locations. You can set up Squirrelmail or Cube mail etc on the server, use Thunderbird your end as per usual. I would avoid TalkTalk , Hotmail etc for mail for reasons of privacy . This way (above) you have complete control
    over your email, encryption etc.

  2. James Deckard

    Of course oh can host a website or OwnCloud on a DigitalOcean droplet as well…

  3. It isn’t very clear what your question actually is.

    It’s quite common for ISPs to grab port 25 and not allow you to send mail except through their own servers. (But you said it worked with the other US supplier.)

    It’s quite common for ISPs to not allow outgoing mail from addresses they don’t control, without some special set up. I don’t know what From: address you are using. If it’s the one allocated by the mail provider this shouldn’t be a problem.

    Your mail may also be being lost closer to the recipient servers, which may see some discrepency with your From: address and the SMTP server you are using to send mail. Have they checked their spam folders?

    Have you seen any bounce messages?

    Any outgoing mail to port 25 will go through your ISP’s servers so can be monitored at that point.

    It’s more common these days to use port 587 which can encrypt content (although not metadata).


  4. I too am not quite sure what’s happening here. But, you have a hosted website at Does that not have an email server you can use? All my email goes via my domains’ servers in the States, rather than using an ISP service or ghastly webmaily shit like gmail or hotmail.

    Also, if you’re looking for an ISP with decent service and good customer support, if you’re willing to spend the money I recommend Zen, who I use and who are always excellent with any customer support in my experience.