There’s still a lot of people out there who use the tried-and-true method of email using the Post Office Protocol, otherwise known as POP (or POP3) using a mail client like Windows Live Mail or Mozilla Thunderbird. POP is the receiving mail server, and SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) is the sending server, and they are separate. For example, Hotmail’s POP server is pop3.live.com (SSL, port 995) and the SMTP server is smtp.live.com (port 25 or 587, whichever works best).
Should you happen to be using a free email account from Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, AOL Mail or like service, you may periodically get denied sending email. The most common error you’ll receive is some nastygram from the SMTP server stating you’re sending "too much mail" and that you’ll have to wait a few hours before you can send mail again.
The workaround for this is to not use your free email account’s SMTP server at all, and just use your ISP’s instead.
Some technical notes before continuing
This workaround is a hit-or-miss way of sending email; it will either work just fine or you may encounter issues.
Does your ISP care if you use their SMTP server to send out emails from an account that wasn’t assigned by them?
As long as you’re not abusing the system (i.e. spamming people), your ISP shouldn’t care. Email is part of the internet access subscription you pay for, and to the best of my knowledge nearly all ISPs do not have any specific rule that states you must use an email account on their domain to use their SMTP.
Will using my ISP’s SMTP outgoing mail server get my mail falsely flagged as spam to the people I send mail to?
Not usually – but it is possible. It depends how "strict" a recipient’s mail server is configured. When sending mail to Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail recipients, using an alternate SMTP server to send your mail is usually not a problem at all.
How do I find what my ISP’s SMTP server address is?
This is usually found easily with a quick Google search. Go to Google and search for "[your ISP here] SMTP". For example, for Verizon, just search for Verizon SMTP and you’ll find the information you need quickly.
Can I use my ISP’s SMTP indefinitely?
I can’t answer that with a direct yes or no. You’ll have to test it for a week or so to see if it works for you. If it does, keep on using it.
The PCMech.com weekly newsletter has been running strong for over 8 years. Sign up to get tech news, updates and exclusive content - right in your inbox. Also get (several) free gifts.