Why can't I receive or send an e-mail?

Updated: 02/07/2022 by Computer Hope
Notification for new e-mail

There are multiple reasons why you have trouble receiving or sending e-mails. Review each section below for troubleshooting ideas and possible ways to fix the issue.

Internet or Network connection missing

Internet or network connection failures keep your e-mail program from sending and receiving messages. Verify the computer can connect to the Internet or network.

Issues with Internet or Network e-mail server

Make sure the Internet e-mail server or your Network e-mail server is not encountering issues by contacting either your ISP (Internet service provider) or your Network administrator. They should be able to tell you if there are any e-mail server issues preventing you from receiving or sending an e-mail.

E-mail program incorrectly configured

Many e-mail related problems are because of improperly configured mail settings. Verify the e-mail program is properly configured to connect to your Internet or Network e-mail server. It is very common for the e-mail program to have either the incorrect POP or SMTP address.

As mentioned in the links above, the POP server is used to retrieve mail, and the SMTP server is used to send mail. Therefore, if you are having difficulties receiving e-mail, verify that the correct POP server and port are defined. If you cannot send mail, verify that the correct SMTP server and port are defined.

The default SMTP server is port 25, and the POP3 server is port 110. However, the actual POP3 and SMTP server name varies depending on your Internet e-mail or Network e-mail provider.


Users may be unable to send an e-mail through another ISP due to SMTP restrictions that try to reduce spam on the ISP's network.

If you use a different Internet or Network connection while sending e-mail and cannot send e-mail, verify with the ISP or Network Administrator that an SMTP block is not in place.

When an SMTP block is in place, one of the following errors occur.

  1. SMTP error
  2. SMTP rejected
  3. Server response 550
  4. SMTP prohibited by administrator
  5. Error 0x800ccc79

Security issues

All Internet and Network servers require that users log in using their username and password to send and receive e-mail.

Verify that you are entering the correct username and password when attempting to send or receive your e-mail. If you aren't prompted for a username or password, they're configured in the e-mail program. Verify that the correct username and password are entered into the e-mail program's configuration.


Some network administrators or Internet service providers may expire your password after a length of time. If the password is not changed within that period, you may no longer be able to receive e-mail until the password is changed.

Spam filter

Spam filters can inappropriately cause you to not receive e-mail. If a spam filter is misconfigured or your ISP believes a message is spam, it's placed in the Spam folder or deleted. Only your Internet service provider or e-mail provider can tell you if this is occurring.

Almost all e-mail programs today have some protection that helps protect users from spam. These programs, scripts, and add-ons can also cause e-mail to be wrongly deleted. If you have problems getting e-mail, temporarily disable spam filters and verify no mail is in the junk folder, spam folder, or trash bin.

E-mail program corruption or other issues

If you have verified each of the recommendations above and are still unable to receive or send e-mail, the e-mail program may have issues. Try uninstalling and reinstalling your e-mail client. Alternatively, you could also try an alternative e-mail client or service.