My email won't connect to the server to get email!

January 8, 2009 / Updated: January 8, 2009 / Lena Shore
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This short How-To covers this and other similar dreaded messages: “Cannot send message using xxx server”

This problem happens frequently and it’s usually due to your primary ISP (Bellsouth, Comcast, etc.). What happens is that your email is ultimately controlled by your primary ISP even if you have your own domain name you are using. Usually the default email is sent using port 25. There are lots of ports for different things.

Sometimes your primary ISP will block port 25 if you are using your own domain in the SMTP area of your email set up. Why? I have no idea. I should probably look that up. Maybe they are jealous. But, the end result is you can’t send mail. The biggest offenders seem to be Bellsouth and Comcast. What is more frustrating is that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t… so it can be hard to isolate the problem.

Here are two ways to fix it.

  1. The easiest: Change your SMTP (outgoing mail) to your primary ISP’s SMTP setting. This will probably work. Don’t know your ISP’s SMTP? Check out this handy list! So, if your SMTP was smtp.mydomainname.com, it will now be something similar to mail.bellsouth.com. (check the list). Save and give it a test.
  2. OR, if the first solution doesn’t work (and it should 99% of the time) or you don’t want to do it and like your life a little more complicated, you can find your port settings and change them to another port.
  • Contact your web site tech person that handles your mail and ask what ports they have open. (My servers keep ports 25, 587, and 5190 open.)
  • Find the advanced area of your account settings that handle SMTP and try one of the other ports.