David Beroff (d4b) wrote,
David Beroff

Follow up on earlier SMTP pursuits

Working on some more minor SMTP issues tonight, which reminded me that I hadn't reported on some of the SMTP work from about a month ago.

In response to my application to get SMTP from SendGrid, they essentially replied, "not yet; wait until the site's near ready". That's fine, and actually encouraging, as it shows that they do take email delivery seriously. I'm sure they want to see AboutTh.is confirm email addresses before activating new Member accounts, and that's of course what Accountify does.

I did prove that GoDaddy blocks outbound SMTP (to any provider other than their own) from their website hosting, and their own email servers seem pretty bogged down (and aren't regarded well by outsiders anyway, due to the amount of spam sent by their customers). So, for the moment, SafeAmericanKids.com uses an email script hosted on my AboutTh.is account at Rackspace.

Since I couldn't use SendGrid's SMTP, I had sniffed around for others while I was testing GoDaddy vs. Rackspace, trying to see if the issue was on the web hosting side (sending) or on the SMTP service side (receiving). (Thanks for your help here, Michael!) I eventually confirmed that Rackspace was not blocking use of their SMTP from the outside; I didn't see why they would, but then again, GoDaddy shouldn't be blocking their competitors, either.

In my search, I found http://SMTP2go.com, which offers a cute, tiny plan with a limit of 20 emails per day for free; perfect for exactly this sort of testing. (They'll go higher for a fee, of course.) They also offer impressive reporting, and they do seem to watch exactly what's going through their servers. e.g., After several tests, I noticed an odd, extra header line:
X-ACL-Warn: "does the message work?";
In short, their algorithm detected that I was sending the same type of test emails from and to the same set of addresses, and automatically added that line.

I also tried using the SMTP service provided by my own GMail account. Of course I was logging in with the correct credentials, but GMail still noticed that it was from IP's that it wasn't used to seeing for me. First they sent me an email, alerting me to this, and asking that I do a quick (web-based) verification from those computers. The problem was, of course, that I don't have a web browser sitting on GoDaddy or Rackspace's servers, and couldn't do so. (In the distant past, I might've tried to install/run server-side browser code, but that rabbit hole was way too deep for the current needs at hand.)

Then, rather interestingly, when they didn't get the requested verification, I get a personalized message on a Google search results page, pointing out, (correctly), that this could be a Real Problem, (i.e., someone could've stolen my GMail password, etc.), and this time, they allowed me to review the addresses in question, and verify that all was cool from my own desktop computer. Rather interesting that they take this sort of "emergency alert" route with unrelated services, much like the emergency weather alerts that are sent on TV and radio stations.

Update: I just found a recommendation for http://Mandrill.com, which is free for 12k emails/mo; I have not yet tried this.
Tags: marketing, mtat, sak, webdev
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