Evolution uses only default smtp server

Einstein once said that one definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over for ever and ever expecting a different result.

Well then, when it comes to computers, we should all be mad really, because such is the nature of the computer, that you could well do the same thing over and over for ever and ever and a different result might just occur.

In Windows this is, of course, more true than of any other operating system, but I don’t use Windows anymore (I use Ubuntu, thank you), so lets not talk about that.

This afternoon, for no apparent reason whatsoever, Evolution on Ubuntu (Hardy Heron 8.04) suddenly decided it would use nothing other than my default SMTP server.  Or so it appeared.  Although I could still receive email as normal, Evolution refused to send email from anything by my default SMTP server.

I have three email accounts set up in Evolution and all of them use different SMTP servers (although the 2 offending accounts are hosted on the same server, using the same default SMTP port).

Suddenly, this same thing I did over and over for ever and ever yielded a different result.  Naturally I was stumped and yes, I did feel ever so slightly mad.

I thought about what I did differently today.  There were two things.  I installed the updates that Ubuntu advised me to, but nothing that was related to email or Evolution as such.  I also installed Filezilla, and thinking back it was shortly after this that my troubles started.  Obvious solution? Uninstall Filezilla.

This yielded no results.

The actual problem with Evolution using only your default SMTP server

Truth be told, even though Evolution indicates that it’s only using your default SMTP server, it really isn’t. Maybe the programmers were lazy, but it is in fact trying your other accounts too, it just specifies the default account.

It connects and seemingly hangs, but it doesn’t, it’s just waiting for the time-out.  When it does time out it will tell you, unable to connect to mail.suchandsuch.com and you’ll realise it was in fact not your default server.

In my case, and it might well be your case too if you’re using HostGator, my SMTP port 25 suddenly decided not to work anymore.  Mind you, I read on the net that this might also be due to the ISP blocking this port in an attempt to stop spam.  Ha!

So if you’re using Streamyx through Telekom Malaysia in Sabah and you have this problem sending mail, then you know that your port 25 has been blocked (as of this afternoon it seems).

Solution to Evolution using only your default SMTP server

Luckily for DIY SMTP peeps like you and me, there are alternative ports for SMTP.  One such port that works with HostGator (your experience might vary) is port 465.  This is the SSL port, which has the added benefit of making the process of receiving your mail more secure. In actuality, if this is the only thing you do, it has very little benefit.

Nevertheless, if you specify this port, then you should also specify an SSL connection, otherwise there might be a miscommunication and things will not work.

How to implement the default STMP server only solution in Evolution

Ok, so first we need to tell Evolution that you want to use the SSL port for your SMTP transactions.

In Evolution, go to Edit -> Preferences and then click the offending account to highlight it, and press Edit.

Select the Sending Email tab and add :465 to the Server Configuration box, which should already have something like mail.suchandsuch.com.  So then you have something like mail.suchandsuch.com:465.  This is how you specify a different port in Evolution (the default is port 25).  Note: your alternative port might be different.

Then also change Use a Secure Connection to SSL encryption.  You’ll find this option in the Security section on the same tab.

This should solve your problem. It did mine.

Technically, you can specify any alternative port, as long as it’s not 25, which is the default and the most likely number your ISP is blocking (if that is indeed the problem).  I did a quick search and found that 465 is HostGator’s SSL Port, which is supported by my account and my email client, Evolution.

Chew on that, Einstein!

5 Comments

  • roscopico

    15 August 2008 at 17:37

    Thanks for the tut. Very helpful as my ISP is not linux friendly (the b4stards).

    Cheers from the land of cheese and beer!

  • 1Earth

    15 August 2008 at 12:06

    My pleasure Roscopico – don't know when our ISPs will catch on and realise the trend.

  • Wendy

    23 June 2009 at 07:28

    Thank You! I had to reinstall Ubuntu last night and I had to setup all my email accounts again. I was getting mail, but couldn't send. I tried everything – but I didn't realize that was an SSL port. Now it works.

  • 1Earth

    3 July 2009 at 20:21

    Glad to help Wendy 🙂

  • Mack

    24 July 2009 at 07:21

    That was a big help – really appreciate it.

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