A practical guide to troubleshooting

This is a practical, step-by-step approach to troubleshooting email problems.

Is the problem on the server?

  1. The best way to test server problems is to try to use your webmail. Webmail is hosted on the server itself, and so bypasses your network and your local email client. This makes it ideal for troubleshooting.
  2. Visit your webmail URL.
    • http://webmail.example.com: Please replace example.com with your own domain name.
  3. Log into webmail with your full email address and email password.
    • If you CAN'T log in, please try to
      • If you still get an authentication error, this is most likely a server issue.
      • If you don't get an error, but it takes a very long time to log in and/or times out, please skip to
    • If you CAN log in, proceed to the next step.
  4. Send yourself a test message. You can send to this same email address, or to an external email address (such as a Hotmail or Gmail account). Reply to the message to test both sending and receiving.
    • If you get an immediate error when attempting to send or receive, note the exact error. This is aserver issue.
    • If you get a bounceback, please skip to
    • If you get no error, but the message has not delivered for at least five minutes, please skip to
    • If you can successfully send and receive from webmail, this indicates that the server is fine. Proceed to the next step, then the next section, to troubleshoot possible network problems.
  5. There are a small number of server problems that might not be "caught" by the webmail test. If you notice one of the following, please first continue with the next troubleshooting sections, because these problems are just as likely to be caused by a network or email client problem. If you finish troubleshooting and are still having one of the problems described below, continue to the final step.
    • If you have SMTP or Outgoing mail server connection problems, the mail server may be configured incorrectly.
    • If you have problems with POP but not IMAP, webmail uses IMAP only, so again, the mail server setting in your email client may be configured incorrectly.

Is the problem with the network?

Some email problems can occur between your computer and the (mt) Media Temple server. There are dozens of connection points between your computer and the server. There's a connection from your computer to your local network, from your local network to your Internet Service Provider, from your Internet Service Provider to the next Internet Service Provider down the line, and so on. A problem with one of these connection points is a network problem. Follow the steps below to continue troubleshooting:

  1. Run a telnet test to the server for the appropriate port. You can run this test from your command prompt (Terminal on Mac or Run > cmd on Windows). Click on the link for a step-by-step walkthrough. The general format of the test is as follows:
    telnet example.com 25
    

    You should replace example.com with your own mail server name (the same as your domain name in most cases), and25 with the port number you are try to test. Here's a summary of port numbers related to email:

    Examine the results of your telnet test. A response of "220" or "Connected" indicates connection success - continue on to the email client troubleshooting below. A timeout or "Unable to connect" message indicates that you have a network problem.
    • 25 - standard outgoing SMTP port
      • Note - this port is consistently blocked by Internet Service Providers in an effort to prevent spam. See the special Outgoing mail blocked on Port 25 section below for further assistance.
    • 587 - alternate outgoing SMTP port
    • 465 - SSL encrypted outgoing SMTP port
    • 110 - incoming POP port
    • 995 - SSL encrypted incoming POP port
    • 143 - incoming IMAP port
    • 993 - SSL encrypted incoming IMAP port
  2. While a problem on a specific port may not show itself in a generic traceroute, it doesn't hurt to try. For detailed instructions, on running a traceroute, see Using the traceroute command. For quick reference, run one of the following from your command prompt: 
    Windows:
    tracert example.com

    Mac:

    traceroute example.com

    A timeout, or a few hops with only asterisks (*), may indicate a problem with the connection hop listed before or after the timeout.

  3. If you have identified a network problem, you will need to contact your local network administrator, or your Internet Service Provider, for further assistance. Even if the problem is downstream from your local Internet Service Provider, they may be able to reroute traffic for your domain through a different network path, so that you don't run into the bad network connection beyond them.

Outgoing mail blocked on Port 25

It is becoming more and more common for Internet Service Providers to block outgoing SMTP traffic on Port 25. This is part of their effort to block spam. There are two ways to get around this:

  1. Use Port 587 for outgoing email instead. You can switch your local email client to use Port 587 by following the appropriate guide here:Use your Internet Service Provider's outgoing SMTP server. You can contact your Internet Service Provider for the server name, username, and password. Your email will still be coming from your own email address at your own domain name; it will just be delivered by their server.
    • List of third-party email clients
    You will also need to make sure that your server supports Port 587 for outgoing mail.
    • Enable Port 587

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