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

Updated: 05/06/2024 by Computer Hope
Notification for new e-mail

There are many possible reasons why you may experience trouble sending or receiving e-mails. Review each section below for common causes and suggested solutions to try and fix the problem.

Internet or Network connection missing

Internet or network connection failures keep your e-mail program from sending and receiving messages. Verify the computer is connected by moving the mouse cursor over the wired or wireless connection symbol in the Windows Notification Area and looking for "Internet Access" in the pop-up text.

Confirming that a computer is connected to the Internet.

If the dialog box shows "Not connected" or "No Internet access," troubleshoot your network connection.

Issues with Internet or Network e-mail server

Make sure the Internet or network e-mail server is working properly by contacting your ISP (Internet Service Provider) or a network administrator if you're at work. They should be able to tell you if there are any connectivity or hardware issues preventing you from receiving or sending e-mail messages.

E-mail program incorrectly configured

Many e-mail-related problems are caused by improperly-configured settings. It is very common for e-mail programs to have an incorrect POP (Post office Protocol) or SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) address. The POP server is used to retrieve mail, and the SMTP server is used to send it. If you can't receive 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 differs depending on your e-mail client or service.

SMTP restrictions

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're not on a familiar Internet or network connection, verify with the ISP or network administrator that an SMTP block is not in place.

When an SMTP block is in place, you may encounter one of the following errors.

  • SMTP error
  • SMTP rejected
  • Server response 550
  • SMTP prohibited by administrator
  • Error 0x800ccc79

Security issues

All Internet and network servers require users to log in using the appropriate credentials to send and receive e-mail. Consequently, you must verify that you are entering the correct username and password when attempting to access e-mail.

If you aren't prompted for a username or password, they may be saved in the e-mail program's configuration. Check the client's settings to make sure the stored username and password are correct.


Many network passwords expire after 90 or 180 days. As such, you may not be able to receive e-mail until you update your password in the e-mail client or service.

Spam filter

Almost all e-mail programs and services today have built-in spam protection. Spam filters can inappropriately cause you to not receive e-mail. Furthermore, these programs, scripts, and add-ons can also cause e-mail to be deleted by mistake. If you have problems getting e-mail, temporarily disable spam filters and verify no mail is in the junk, spam, or trash folders.

Sometimes, if a filter is misconfigured or your ISP believes a message is spam, it's placed in the spam folder. As only your e-mail provider can assist you in this matter, we suggest contacting them if you suspect this is happening.

E-mail program corruption or other issues

If you 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, try a different e-mail client or service, like Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Outlook.com, and Aol Mail, which offer free accounts to users.


Microsoft Outlook users may want to see the Microsoft Outlook help page.