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Cannot send email – Problem, solution and troubleshooting tips

Cannot send email - Problem, solution and troubleshooting tips

If you cannot send email through the email client the solution might be simple or very complex (let’s keep our fingers crossed and wish it is the former). Before we jump right to the troubleshooting tips and the solutions, please understand that email is sent using SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) which is different from how messages are received by the client.

Thus, if you are not able to send email, the fault is with the SMTP server or one of its settings on the email program. Several SMTP settings determine the transfer of the message from your computer to the email server and then to the recipient. You can get the SMTP settings from the service provide.

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Anyway, here are step by step instructions to determine where the fault lies.

  • Is your computer connected to the Internet
    Find out if you have a live internet connection – you might have forgotten to plugin the cable or start the connection.
  • Can you send messages through this account from webmail (web based interface)?
    If your web hosting company has provided this feature, log in to this email account using webmail. Try to send a message. If it goes through, fine. If it doesn’t you would need to contact your web host to know what’s going on.
  • Did you enter the correct username and password
    If the login details are incorrect your email client would not be able to connect to the email server. Double check the username and password that you had entered and try again.
    Generally, usernames of email accounts are derived from the email address. For instance, if you email is john@smith.com, the username would probably be john+smith.com. Note: the at sign (@) in the email address is replaced by the plus sign (+) in the username.
    Passwords are case sensitive. So myemailpassword is different from MyEmailPassword or MYEMAILPASSWORD.
  • Cannot send email but able to receive
    Typically, POP based email accounts have the same address for incoming and outgoing email servers. However, sometimes the email service provider might have a different outgoing email server which has a different username and password (next point). Please check with your provider for details if you cannot send email but can receive.
  • Is the outgoing email server address correct?
    The outgoing email server (SMTP) address needs to be correct for you to send messages from the account. You can find this information in the email you have received from your web host. If its not there, try locating it on the support or FAQ pages on the company’s web site else contact their technical staff.
    The outgoing email server address would typically be based on your web site’s address, unless the server has been configured differently. Thus, if your web site’s URL is www.my-web-site.com, the outgoing email server address would be either my-web-site.com or mail.my-web-site.com (substitute my-web-site.com with your actual domain name).
    For instruction, please refer how to change the outgoing mail server in an email program.
  • IMPORTANT: Does your ISP allow you to use a different outgoing email address?
    This is where most people go wrong and yell at their web hosts. The thing is that ISPs might block the usage of another outgoing email server leading to an SMTP error. However, they allow you to send emails through their email server. Why do they do this? To protect their bandwidth and curtail spamming activity. So instead of using the outgoing email server address provided by your web hosting company use the one provided by your ISP. If you don’t know the outgoing email server of your ISP, check their web site else give a call. Once you have this information, configure your email client accordingly. Here we will look at configuring Outlook Express the free email client that comes with the Windows operating system.

    • List all email accounts by clicking on ToolsAccounts. A pop-up window now displays all the accounts configured in Outlook Express. (Refer image below)
      Listing all the email accounts in Outlook Express email client
    • Select an account and click on the Properties button. (Refer image below).
      Changing the settings of an email account in Outlook Express if you cannot send emails
    • You will now be displayed the Properties window of that email account. Go to the Servers tab and enter your ISP outgoing email server address (point 1 in the image), then check My server requires authentication (point 2 in the image) and finally click on the Settings button.
      Changing the outgoing email server to one provided by your ISP if you cannot send emails
    • In the Outgoing server settings window enter the username and password of your ISP (that is, the username and password you use to connect to the internet). (Refer image below).
      Configuring the outgoing email server if you cannot send emails through your ISP
    • Click on the “OK” and “Apply” buttons and test. This should solve your problem. In case of problems, please contact your ISP directly.

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