Mountain Area Information Network

Email Troubleshooting and Tips

Outlook Express How To
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How Email Works On The Internet
A simple explanation of how email is handled on the internet.

How To Setup Windows Outlook Express for MAIN

How To Use Webmail

If you are having trouble with Outlook Express or other email client, you can use Webmail, until you get the problem solved.

First, Make Sure You Are Connected
Windows (all versions) - In the lower right hand corner of your screen, you will see the time. If you are connected, a little to the left of there will be two tiny computers hooked to each other, possibly blinking.

Macintosh OS 9 - Click on the Apple in the upper left corner and if you see Remote Access Status, click on it. If it is not there, click on File and then go down to Find and search your hard drive for it. After it is open, it will show what the status is.

Macintosh OS 10.X - In the upper right hand corner may be a phone symbol. You can click on that to find the status of your connection. If it is not there, then doubleclick on your hard drive (usually Macintosh HD) and go to the Applications folder and doubleclick on Internet Connect.

Norton Firewall
Norton Firewall can frequently prevent internet applications from sending or receiving information over the internet even though you are connected. Check the configuration of the firewall and make sure that it is not interfering with internet communications.

To Test Your Email
Make sure the Outbox is empty. Either delete the email or move it to another folder (usually Drafts is chosen). Send yourself a test email. Check the Outbox to see if it went to the server. If it is still in there, it didn't go. If it did get sent, it should be in Sent Items.

Outlook Express Error Codes
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Microsoft Outlook Express Hangs Up Your Connection
Tools => Options => Connection and see if it is set to Hang Up After Sending And Receiving. If so, uncheck it and click OK at the bottom.

Microsoft Outlook 2000 Hangs Up Your Connection
To set Outlook 2000 so that it does not hang up after sending email
1. Open Outlook 2000.
2. On the Tools menu, click Options.
3. On the Mail Delivery tab, uncheck the Hang up when finished sending, receiving, or updating check box.
4. Click OK.
5. Close all running programs, and then restart the computer.
6. Resend email.

To set Outlook XP so that it does not hang up after sending email
1. Open Outlook XP.
2. On the Tools menu, click Options.
3. On the Mail Setup tab, uncheck the Hang up when finished with a manual Send/Receive check box.
4. Click OK.
5. Close all running programs, and then restart the computer.
6. Resend email.

Turn off Email Scanning in Norton Antivirus
Email scanning by Norton can frequently interfere with either or both sending or receiving emails. Service can frequently be restored by disabling the email scanning. Your computer will still be protected from viruses, according to Norton's directions Here

Stuck Email
Sometimes Outlook Express (and infrequently, some other email programs) will get stuck on a message when it is downloading. It will start to download the messages and then stop at a certain number. Note what the number is. When that happens, use WebMail,
Read and delete the messages around the number where it keeps getting stuck, ie., if it gets stuck on Message #7, delete #'s 6, 7, and 8. Then click on Sign Out or Log Off. Then try your email the regular way.

Receiving Duplicate Emails
If you are not having the problem as specified above, go to Webmail:
and check your mail through Webmail. If there are duplicates there, then the senders are responsible for sending the duplicates. If they are not duplicated there and it does not stop downloading and then get stuck , then Outlook Express is probably having a problem.

In Outlook Express, go to the Tools menu, then Accounts, then click on the Mail tab and look in the white box. You usually have only one account per mailbox set up there. If there is more than one, it could be causing the duplicates. If there is only one, Outlook Express may be having the problem and upgrading Internet Explorer may help (Outlook Express is a part of Internet Explorer):

Clicking Links In Outlook Express Email Not Working
If you click on a link in Outlook Express and it doesn't go to the web page, it is Windows not linking properly so you can click on a link in Outlook Express and have it open in Internet Explorer automatically.
This sometimes fixes it:
In Internet Explorer, click on Tools, then Internet Options, then put a check in "Internet Explorer should check to see if it is the default browser".
Click OK at the bottom, then close Internet Explorer and open it and then click Yes to make it the default browser and open Outlook Express and click on a link and see if it works right.

Problems Sending MAIN Mail when using another service provider such as Charter or Bell South
You are trying to send your mail out using MAIN's server when your internet connection is through someone else. A common practice of spammers is sending out mail through other servers. Internet service providers have been restricting outgoing mail to be sent using only the service you have your internet connection service with.
You can still get your MAIN mail from us and send it out through your current provider. Your outgoing mail server should be designated as whatever your current internet service provider told you to use for your Outgoing (SMTP) mail server. If you are not sure, their customer service should be able to provide the information easily. Here are the directions for changing Outlook Express (if you have some other program, call us):

  • Start Microsoft Outlook Express.
  • Click on the Tools menu.
  • Click on Accounts.
  • Click on the Mail tab.
  • Double click on your MAIN account (or whatever you named it).
  • Click on the Servers tab at the top.
  • In the outgoing mail server field enter or whatever they told you to use for your Outgoing (SMTP) mail server.
  • Click OK.
  • Click Close.

Trouble Sending or Receiving Large Files (One Megabyte or bigger)
Some email programs cannot handle files larger than 2 mb reliably. Some Internet Service Providers have a 10k email receive limit to prevent the spread of viruses. If the total email size is around 1 megabyte (1000k) it should go through with no problem, although it may take a while. MAIN email going through Outlook Express or a similar program may be able to handle 2 megabytes. Our webmail may be able to handle up to 6.5 megabytes. If there are a number of photos to send, you can send them individually in sequential emails. If you have to move files larger than 6.5 megabytes, there may be several ways to do it. If the recipient has a website you may be able to put the file(s) on there for download for the recipient to get the file. Ask them if they have FTP capability for their website.

There are websites that specialize in transferring large files. The security may not be topnotch, however. You can look at this google search:

You can also compress the files that you have and see if you can get it below the limit that way, with a program like Winzip for Windows and Stuffit for Mac. There is also file splitter software to break it up into chunks for emailing (segmenting).

If it is a series of pictures, you could send them in separate files.

Problems Opening Attachments
You may or may not have the program that can open it. The easiest way to find out is to click on the attachment and drag it to your desktop and copy it there. After it shows up on the desktop, right click on it and go down to "Open with" and try appropriate programs to see if it will open.

If that doesn't work, try to find out what program created the document you are trying to read. You may have to email to the sender and ask what program created it, so you can open it with that or a similar program. If you don't have a program in common, they may be able to send it to you in a different format to open.

Importing and Exporting Your Windows Address Book
Exporting: To save your addresses on a floppy (or CD):
Put in a working floppy disk (or CD) into the computer.
Click on the Start button
Go to (All) Programs, then Accessories then Address Book
Click on File, then Export, then Address Book
When the window "Select Address Book File to Export to" comes up, click on My Documents and navigate to your floppy disk (or CD). Where it says "File Name", type in the box to the right:
Address Book
Click Save.
To import your Address Book:
Click on the Start button
Go to (All) Programs, then Accessories then Address Book
Click on File, then Import, then Address Book
When the window "Select Address Book File to Import from" comes up, click on My Documents (or wherever you are) and navigate to your floppy disk (or CD).
Doubleclick on the name of your Address Book.

News Servers and Newsgroups
In the interest of maintaining low cost rural internet dialup access to the web and email, subscribing all of MAIN to a news service does not represent a good return overall for our subscribers. We do monitor request and costs and when it becomes economically viable, we will consider offering the service again. In the meantime, you might try the many choices available at this link:

Changing Your Default Mail Program
Go to Start => Settings (Win 95,98, ME) => Control Panel, double click on Internet Options, then click the Programs tab. For Email choose the program you want. Click OK and close Control Panel.

Delayed Mail
We use industry standard operating system and email server software. We do not hold or delay any email delivery, as we want to get it to you as fast as possible which helps us keep our server loads (and costs) down. With hundreds of thousands of emails each day passing through MAIN, you might think it would be easy to lose a few. Actually, each email contains enough information to either get it to the right place or bounce it back to where it came from, so there shouldn't be any disappearing. However, there are a few things that can send an email off in a direction you weren't expecting. Emails generally don't just disappear, but they may not be where you would expect them to be. There are a number of systems involved when someone emails to your email address: the sender's system, the internet and MAIN, and any intermediary systems (like mail forwarding, a domain that redirects, a different mail exchanger for the sender, etc.)

Delayed Email Possibilities

  • Sometimes there are internet outages where a backhoe will dig up a fiber optic or other major pathway for the internet or a crucial router or switch will give out which will delay mail also. Another mail service provider trying to send to MAIN will attempt to deliver to our server for five days before it gives up and returns the message back to the sender. Generally, though, outages such as backhoe problems are fixed the same day.
  • If you have our Postini email filtering service, it's possible some legitimate email has been mistakenly labeled "spam" or "virus" and diverted to your Postini Message Center. If you have Postini, you can check your Message Center at Postini holds suspect email for 14 days and then deletes it, so you should check there periodically to make sure it's not catching good mail, and then set it to let that mail through in the future if it is.
  • problems with the senders email program
  • problems with the senders email service provider
  • glitches in your email program
  • message rules or filters on your email program which divert messages to the Deleted Items or Junk Email folder
  • it's too easy to add someone to your Blocked Senders List in Outlook Express
  • some virus filtering programs quarantine email
  • sometimes people just aren't sending you mail
  • A technical problem or physical damage to equipment somewhere on the Internet- these are generally fixed without any loss of email, though it may be delayed. If an email can't get through, it would be bounced back to the sender so they would know you did not receive it.

Mail delivery problems can usually be divided into two sets:
Deferral Errors - mail is delayed, and sent later
Permanent Errors - sent the message back to the sender with a notice that it couldn't be delivered.

Deferral Errors
A deferral error means that a message could not delivered on a specific attempt, for any one of a number of reasons, but that the receiving system should be able to get the message later. The message could not be delivered that time, and is queued for another delivery attempt later. When mail from MAIN is deferred, we will attempt to re-deliver the message for five days. Other providers may have other time periods.

Deferred mail delays are usually caused by one of the following problems:
An unusually large amount of email can slow a mail system drastically, using up system resources and slowing the processes that handle email. When this occurs, the server cannot accept any new messages until it is finished with the ones it has already received. This means that messages waiting to get to the server cannot be accepted, and as such, the server will defer the message. A rapidly spreading virus can sometimes generate enought email to flood some systems. A large number of users on MAIN have Postini which usually keeps such loads from getting to our servers.

Unless there is a serious problem with the server receiving the message, a heavy load is a temporary situation, and once that server has processed enough of the messages, it will be able to accept new mail again. Mail deferred due to a high load is usually able to be delivered on subsequent delivery attempts, often within a few minutes or hours.

Permanent Errors
Permanent errors result in the email immediately being returned (or "bouncing") back to the sender. They can be for a number of different reasons. When a email is sent back, it is because it is reasonable to expect that the problem will not be resolved soon. The email sent back to the sender will indicate what the problem is. If a deferral error exists for a certain amount of time (usually five days), then the email will be returned with a permanent delivery error. It is an indication that the error which should have temporary has still not resolved.

What to do if you think your email is delayed:

  • If it is a problem with someone receiving your email, send a simple test email (no attachments, etc.) to yourself. If you don't receive your test email, the problem is probably somewhere in your system. Make sure it has been sent by checking your Sent Items to see if it has gone out.

  • Next, send a test message to someone else you know who receives your emails OK and ask them to respond soon, to make sure you can receive emails properly. If you know they have replied and you have not gotten it, check to see if Postini or other email filtering or blocking is going on.

  • Send a simple test message to the person who has trouble receiving your email asking them to respond soon. If you receive the test message promptly, this means there are no serious problems with your system. Any missing mail is likely due to problems at the sender's system, a typo in the address, delays at the sender's system, or there was a transient error that deferred some mail. In this last case, you should receive your mail soon. If you receive a bounce message back when trying to send a test email, keep it!! If the sender receives a bounce message back when trying to send you a test email, have them keep it!! It should have information on which system is reporting the error and describe what is wrong. In either case, forward the bounce message to and we should be able to find out where the problem is from the information in the header of the email. Bounce messages are the equivalent of "Return to Sender".

Reasons for bouncing are:

  • The senders mail server. These are not uncommon and are usually fixed soon, but notifying the senders service provider is a good idea in case they are unaware of the problem.
  • Unusually heavy loads that cause connection timeouts. These are more common at free email systems like Hotmail. They will usually be aware of their problem by that point.
  • Expired or locked accounts.

If you are certain you are missing a message or messages, please contact the Help Desk and we will try to help you figure out the problem.

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