“Help, my email isn’t working!”  This is one of the most common troubleshooting issues that hosting clients contact us with.  It isn’t always easy to determine exactly where the problem is without some feedback from the user, so in order for Hosting101 to determine what is causing the problem there are some simple troubleshooting steps that the user can do themselves that will often solve the problem before contacting Hosting101’s support.  These steps are:

  1. Check your internet connection
  2. Test Webmail access
  3. Confirm that you’re using the correct email server settings
  4. Check for IP address blacklisting

1. Check your Internet connection

This might seem obvious to many people, but it actually happens very often that people notice that they can’t send or receive emails before they find that they can’t access the internet at all.  When your email isn’t working, it’s a good idea to open a web browser and try to do something simple like a Google search for any random phrase, like the word “test”.  If Google works and the search completes without a glitch, your internet connection is fine and we can continue the troubleshooting process.  If the search does not complete successfully, or you can’t even open Google’s search page in the first place, then it’s time to call your IT company’s tech support or your internet service provider.

2. Test Webmail access

The most common thought that occurs to users when their email isn’t working is that the server is offline.  Hosting101’s servers have had 99.9% uptime over the last 4 years, only being offline for a few minutes at a time occasionally to update software, so chances are that it’s not the server causing the problem.  To confirm that the server is up and running you can always access your emails using Hosting101’s webmail service by going to http://yourdomain.co.za/webmail (replace “yourdomain.co.za” with your registered domain, as in your email address after the “@” sign)..  You can login with your email address as username and the password provided when it was created.

The Webmail service provides you with three different interface options – Squirrelmail, Horde and RoundCube.  You can choose any one of the three, it really is a matter of preference and each has its own advantages and disadvantages, but they will all work and be able to access your emails.

Once you’re logged in and have the webmail interface open on your screen you already know that the server is online, because if it was offline you wouldn’t have been able to get this far.  But now that you’re here, it’s a good idea to send a test email from within the webmail interface to confirm that you are able to send and receive emails correctly.

If your webmail is working properly but you are still having problems with your email client, like Outlook or an app on your phone or tablet, then it means that the email client isn’t communicating properly with the email server and we can continue with the troubleshooting process.

3. Confirm that you are using the correct email server settings

Hosting101’s email server settings always follow one standard pattern, so it’s easy to check if all the settings are correct, though most email client software and apps will use different ways of asking the same information.  This blog post will use Microsoft Outlook 2016 as an example (though most Outlook versions since 2007 follow much the same pattern), but you can use the same settings in all email client software.

The email server settings are:

Incoming mail server (POP3 or IMAP): mail.yourdomain.co.za (again, replace “yourdomain.co.za” with your registered domain, as in your email address after the “@” sign).

POP3 Port (if you’re using POP3): 110

IMAP Port (if you’re using IMAP): 143

Outgoing mail server (SMTP): mail.yourdomain.co.za (replace the “yourdomain.co.za” part as above)

SMTP Port: 26 (Not 25 as is usually the default)

Ensure that settings are enabled that your Outgoing Server requires authentication, and use the same credentials (username and password) as for the Incoming Server

Username: Your full email address

Password: As provided when your email address was created

For Troubleshooting purposes, ensure than “None” is selected under “Use the following encryption or security” (in other words, do not use SSL or TLS while troubleshooting).

 

To check or change these settings in Outlook, you can go to File > Account Settings > Account Settings.  Choose your email account from the list and select “Change”.  You will see the Account Settings dialog box appear as below.

Ensure that your email address, both server names, your username (email address again) and password are all entered correctly, then click on “More Settings” and go to the “Outgoing Server” tab.

Ensure that “My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication” is ticked and the option “Use same settings as my incoming mail server” is selected.

Then click on the “Advanced” tab.

Check that all settings are as in the “Server Port Numbers” section above (the other sections are not important for troubleshooting).

If your settings are configured as above and your email still isn’t working, it is time to contact Hosting101’s support.  But in order for us to assist you properly we will need one more bit of information from you, which is discussed in step 4.

4. Check for IP address blacklisting

When connecting to the internet, most people are given a “Shared IP Address” by their Internet Service Provider (ISP), which could be Telkom, Vodacom, MTN, Afrihost, or any one of hundreds of other ISP’s.  This shared IP address is rotated from one user to the next.

The problem with this is that, if someone sends spam from an IP address, that IP will get blacklisted on most web servers, including Hosting101’s server, for security purposes.  Now the IP address is given to another user, who never sent out spam (hopefully), but suddenly the user is unable to send or receive emails because they can’t connect to the server.

To get the IP address whitelisted again Hosting101’s tech support will have to add it to our server firewalls manually.  In order for us to do that we need you to tell us what your public IP address is.  The easiest way to find it is to open your web browser, go to Google and search “find my IP address”.  The very first entry on the search results will be your public IP address in big bold letters:

If you give this IP address to Hosting101’s support staff, we will be able to add it to the server’s firewall and get it whitelisted, after which your emails should work again.

Conclusion

There are a few very basic, simple steps that you can follow when your emails aren’t working, that will get them working again or at least help you to determine where the problem is.  If these steps didn’t solve your problem, please contact Hosting101 for further assistance.

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