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How to make sure my website sends outgoing mail in an authenticated fashion?

The problem

If your website is hosted with Combell on a shared hosting, and your website occasionally needs to send out mail because it features a contact form for example, chances are these mails are sent in an unauthenticated fashion. This is the case if your site sends the messages using simply the built-in php mail() function. This function will send the message through the shared server relay.webhosting.be.

This however degrades the reputation of the message in the eye of the receiving mail server. Because of this, the message might end up in the spam folder of the recipient.

The solution

Follow the next steps:

  • If your cms (WordPress for example) does not let you configure an smtp server and detailed settings then do install a plugin that lets you that
  • Create a Basic Mail mailbox through your control panel (it does not matter if mail traffic for your domain is managed by our platform or not). You can now send mail using:
    • The server: smtp-auth.mailprotect.be
    • The username: the email address you created
    • The password: the password of the email address you just created
    • Smtp port: 2525
    • SSL encryption can be disabled (not necessary within our network)
  • Configure the above credentials in your website’s plugin. Note that the port you use to connect to the server is 2525. Do not use the standard port 25, as all outgoing traffic for port 25 will be relayed to relay.webhosting.be, which is exactly what we are trying to avoid.
  • Make sure the senders’ email address sender differs from the message recipients’ address. Note that this is unrelated to the email address you just created to have an account on smtp-auth.mailprotect.be.
  • Make sure the server smtp-auth.mailprotect.be is included in the spf record of the senders’ domain. For example, if your websites sends mail from info@ninefortwo.be, make sure the spf record of ninefortwo.be includes the following statement:
    • include:_spf.relay.mailprotect.be

A full spf record could then be:

- v=spf1 a mx include:_spf.relay.mailprotect.be ~all
Updated on 8 March 2020

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