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What is an SMTP server?
Basically, an SMTP server is a server that handles outbound email. By default, Email Center Pro routes all outbound mail through our mail gateway (SMTP server) which is hosted and maintained by an outside company. That company ensures that ECP stays off of blacklists to help to ensure that our customer's email messages are being delivered properly. When using the default SMTP server all email messages come from the real address of @<your domain>.emailcenterpro.com.
This works great unless you change the "reply to" address for your account, in which case your messages could potentially be detected as "spoofed" email messages and have a higher chance of being detected as spam. For those situations, the custom SMTP server option is a good solution. Creating a custom SMTP server gives you the option to tell Email Center Pro to send email out through your mail server instead of through our 3rd party service so all email will be coming from the real address of: mailbox@<your domain>.com
How to create a custom SMTP server in ECP:
There are just a few steps to set up a custom SMTP server. Before beginning, get the following information from your mail administrator or your email service provider:
- Host Name - This is the server name for your SMTP server. For example, Gmail's hostname is: smtp.gmail.com
- Port - This is the port that your mail server expects communication to come through. In most cases this will be 465 for a secure (SSL) connection or 25 if not.
- Authentication and SSL - Does your mail server require authentication and/or SSL connections
- Username and Password - The username and password for the mail account itself
Once you have that information, take these steps to create the SMTP connection
- Click the Accounts & Tools link
- Click the Mailboxes tab and select the Mailbox in question
- Scroll down to the SMTP server area and click Add New
- Enter in all of the required information
- Click the Test SMTP Server button to test your settings
- Once you've confirmed the settings click the Save button and close the SMTP server setup screen
- The new SMTP server should now appear in your mailbox setup, click the Save button here and then close this screen. Email Center Pro will now route all email for this mailbox out through your mail server.
Reasons to use custom SMTP servers:
The first and most popular reason to do this is if you want to use your own company "reply to" address. For example, if I want my messages in ECP to have a reply to address of email@example.com, I can change that in the Mailbox setup but the problem is that those email messages are really coming from firstname.lastname@example.org. The difference between the Reply To address and the real address can cause messages to be detected as spam or spoofed email messages. Setting up an SMTP connection so that ECP sends email through my @paloalto.com mail server will keep this from happening.
Another reason for doing this, which is encountered less often, is if you're sending email through a secured mail relay service or messaging service. Services like eBay and Amazon allow companies to communicate directly with their customers via their internal secured email services. The problem is that messaging services like this will not allow communications from other mail services through them (to protect you and your customers from being spammed) so often if you're using ECP to talk to your customers those mail services will block those messages when they see they're coming from an address that is not your domain. So, setting up an SMTP connection so that ECP sends email through your domain is a perfect solution so that you can use ECP to manage your communications with your customers.