Questions from potential customer

Internet access discussion, including Fusion, IP Broadband, and Gigabit Fiber!
9 posts Page 1 of 1
by Haggy » Mon Jun 13, 2011 10:43 pm
I'm looking for a new ISP and want to make sure that Sonic will meet my needs and not give me the problems my current ISP has.

I assume based on Sonic's background that Usenet support will be good, but in a nutshell, what can I expect in terms of newsgroup availability, speed, retention, and so forth? I'm not a high volume user but I'd like things to be there within reason.

A problem I'm having is that my ISP stopped offering an SMTP server of its own. They switched to Gmail. I have nothing against Gmail, but when they had their own SMTP server my email went out unchanged. When I changed my SMTP settings to Gmail, nobody told me that their server would be changing my From address to an email address with my ISPs domain. Months later I found out by accident that I had a bunch of email that I never got, sent to an email address I never use and an account I never check.

All I use it for is personal email, with addresses at my own domains, and perhaps I send a few dozen emails a month at most. I tend to give businesses unique email addresses to contact me at, so I can cut them off if they spam me. My only real issue is being able to reply to incoming email with the correct From address.

Based on the help pages, it looks like SMTP, IMAP, and so forth will not be a problem, but I want to make sure. I also want to know if I can expect any issues with restricted ports, throttling, or anything that doesn't give me full access to what I expect as a typical (in terms of everyday Internet activity) user.
by virtualmike » Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:25 pm
Many of your questions are answered by the support documents that are available publicly. From sonic.net, click Support, and find the topics you need (e.g., restricted ports). There's a link for FAQs where you'll find further answers. The search box on sonic.net works well.

I'm a light user of Usenet, but it seems to meet my needs. I follow a few binary groups, and I get 99.9% of the articles. That's actually a pretty good number.

The SMTP server works very well. The "from" address that you've configured in your mail client is included in the SMTP envelope, and the receiver cannot discover the authenticated account. As well, you'll be able to configure Gmail to use the sonic.net SMTP server, so email sent within Gmail will not have an altered envelope. (So, yes, you can reply with the address you gave to the merchant. I do this all the time.)

The number of physical mailboxes will depend on the services you buy, but assuming you register/host one or more domains through sonic.net, you'll be able to create an unlimited number of email addresses (e.g., aliases).
by tamino » Tue Jun 14, 2011 12:55 am
Haggy wrote:
I assume based on Sonic's background that Usenet support will be good, but in a nutshell, what can I expect in terms of newsgroup availability, speed, retention, and so forth?


I stopped reading Usenet in 1998. You're a braver soul than I...

I have no information on the Usenet experience with Sonic. Sorry!

Haggy wrote:
A problem I'm having is that my ISP stopped offering an SMTP server of its own.


I run my own MTA, so I don't use Sonic's. (BTW, I confirmed again and again with Sonic that it was OK to run an MTA, before I signed up. It really is OK, even on a consumer-grade line. They really don't mind. Really.)

I assume that Sonic's outbound MTA is sane. I've never had to use it.

Some of the FAQ pages on Sonic's web site mention port 25 blocking, and they say you need to contact Sonic to get it turned off for your account. This wasn't the case for me; I never had anything blocked to start with. I suspect the FAQ is just out of date. If by some weird chance you *do* find something blocked, I am 110% confident that Sonic will be able to un-block it for you.

Haggy wrote:
I also want to know if I can expect any issues with restricted ports, throttling, or anything that doesn't give me full access to what I expect as a typical (in terms of everyday Internet activity) user.


Absolutely no issues here. My impression is that Sonic doesn't fold, spindle, mutilate, shape, or otherwise mess with your packets. If you send an IP packet to some destination, it will get there unaltered. If someone sends you a packet, you will receive it unaltered. No matter if it's a SYN or not, or what port it's on, or whether it's TCP or UDP.

I caught my previous ISP (well, two ISPs ago by this point) messing with my traffic one time where I kept getting "connection reset by peer" on long-running ssh connections. I had a tcpdump going on both ends (my end, and the remote end). Pings were going continuously. At a certain point in the log, the keepalives from my ssh session were received by the other end, and ACKs were going back... but the ACKs were never being received. Whereas the pings (of a similar size) were going just fine. Eventually the first end gave up and sent a RST, and *that* got there just fine.

I considered that (the other, non-Sonic ISP's) behavior to be unconscionable. They were classifying traffic differently based on what TCP session it was part of. That means they had enough packet inspection hardware chewing through my packets so that they could even *tell* what TCP session it was part of! That is digging deeper into traffic than it's an ISP's job to dig.

Sonic has never done anything like that to me. Not to my knowledge, anyway. I guess it's possible that Sonic is just doing a really good job of staying undetectable about it, but Occam's razor says they're just not doing it, period. They treat their job as just to get packets X, Y, and Z from point A to point B. And they seem to do a pretty darn awesome job at it.

Something that you didn't mention is reverse DNS. Reverse DNS with Sonic is self-service; you don't have to provide a list of PTR records to tech support, you just log into the Member Tools section and set them yourself. It's a bit less geeky than RFC2317-style delegation, but it works and it doesn't involve any CNAMEs. :-)
by tamino » Tue Jun 14, 2011 1:14 am
tamino wrote:
I assume that Sonic's outbound MTA is sane. I've never had to use it.


Sorry to follow up to my own post -- I wanted to add that if there's any test you want me to run for you, like "try sending email from this address, to this address", I'd be glad to. Send me email at (my handle on this forum) at wolfhut.org.
by aw » Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:03 am
Haggy wrote:
I assume based on Sonic's background that Usenet support will be good, but in a nutshell, what can I expect in terms of newsgroup availability, speed, retention, and so forth? I'm not a high volume user but I'd like things to be there within reason.


As a moderate to heavy Usenet user, I'll say that Sonic is the best "Free" (Included with internet access) Usenet server I've seen. ~30 days retention in binary groups, and I almost never get missing posts. Lately there have been a couple of hiccups, which operations has jumped on fixing pretty darn quick.
by haggy » Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:09 am
tamino wrote:
Something that you didn't mention is reverse DNS. Reverse DNS with Sonic is self-service; you don't have to provide a list of PTR records to tech support, you just log into the Member Tools section and set them yourself. It's a bit less geeky than RFC2317-style delegation, but it works and it doesn't involve any CNAMEs. :-)


I appreciate all your feedback and I'll probably have more questions related to that. For now, I think I have enough to go on, and will try to change as soon as I can.
by virtualmike » Tue Jun 14, 2011 3:12 pm
haggy wrote:
For now, I think I have enough to go on, and will try to change as soon as I can.

I think you'll be happy.

When I moved my domain to Sonic.net registration and hosting, I encountered some difficulty from the old registrar and hosting company (GoDaddy). Sonic.net Support helped me with some workarounds so that it was a seamless transfer, despite GoDaddy's interference.
by gp1628 » Tue Jun 14, 2011 4:19 pm
Lots of "old time internet" stuff.
No problem. Personally Im an Internet Native (here when it was discovered and renamed by others)

It might interest you that Sonic is one of the few ISPs that does TRUE secondaries for DNS and Email. It does incredibly honest postings of MOTD. And (a big point for me) it runs a Shell Server for its customers (just ask them to turn it on to get a login on it). Ive admined servers on the net for years (retired now) and this is the only ISP I will loudly and proudly recommend to other admins in the admin groups
by Haggy » Sat Jun 18, 2011 11:11 am
tamino wrote:
Absolutely no issues here. My impression is that Sonic doesn't fold, spindle, mutilate, shape, or otherwise mess with your packets. )


I made the switch and am now using Sonic. Since you answered all the questions right, you win the T shirt.
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