Troubleshooting Your Email
Investigating email problems
Email has become an indispensable tool in the business world. When it works properly, life is good; when it does not, productivity comes to a screeching halt. We understand that not everyone has the time or desire to learn all the ins and outs of email, so here is some assistance to help us efficiently troubleshoot your email problems and get you back to your business.
Viewing Internet Email Headers For:
First, we would like to acknowledge that email server software is written by programmers, and those same programmers are usually the same ones who write the error messages. These error messages make sense to the programmer when (s)he wrote the software, but make less sense to the people in charge of the email servers, and make little sense to the people who actually receive them. To defend the programmers a bit, the details within these messages actually DO describe the problem; it just takes some effort to decypher it.
These email error messages, commonly called "bounce messages," are a crucial piece in determining email delivery problems. These messages will typically come from an email address of "MAILER-DAEMON@somedomain.com" with a subject like "failure notice." The most important tip is to read past the first few lines to get to the actual reason for the error. If the error is not obvious, please forward this message to us when reporting a problem.
An example of what a message like this looks like would be:
1. From: MAILER-DAEMON@mail.bytepro.net
2. To: email@example.com
3. Subject: failure notice
4. Hi. This is the qmail-send program at mail.bytepro.net.
5. I'm afraid I wasn't able to deliver your message to the following addresses.
6. This is a permanent error; I've given up. Sorry it didn't work out.
8. 188.8.131.52 does not like recipient.
9. Remote host said: 550-5.1.1 The email account that you tried to reach does not exist. Please try:
10. 550-5.1.1 double-checking the recipient's email address for typos or
11. 550-5.1.1 unnecessary spaces. Learn more at
12. 550 5.1.1 http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=6596
13. 13si25703586iwn.130 Giving up on 184.108.40.206.
As you can see on line #9, the server says that the email address does not exist. It took some wading through the error text to get to the actual error, but we found it. Almost all email delivery problems have to do with invalid email addresses.
First, we need to determine where in your email setup you are. Are you setting up your account for the first time, or has your existing email set up stopped working, or is not working as expected?
If this is a new account, set up there are a few things you can start with. First, our help section contains screenshots that will walk you through every step of the initial set up. It is quite comprehensive and contains screenshots from the most popular email clients and operating systems. You can view these screenshots for your particular set up here.
A few common mistakes are: not replacing the text "yourdomain.com" with your actual domain name of your company. If your company website is at www.abcwidgets.com, and your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, then your domain name would be abcwidgets.com, without the www.
Another mistake is not completing the "advanced set up" section in the instructions. This is the part where you change the "outgoing smtp server port" from 25 to 587. Our servers are configured to only allow you to send email to people outside of the server only if you connect via port 587. This is called "authenticated SMTP."
If you have followed the steps in the screenshots and still are unable to send email, please call our office.
If you had an existing and working set up, and are now experiencing problems, the first thing to do is to verify that you are able to connect to the internet. Yes, this sounds really obvious, but it has been our most common reason for this type of problem. Simply open up a web browser and see if you can get to a few different sites on the internet, perhaps Google or Yahoo.
Next, check to see if other people in the office are having email issues. If no one is able to send email, then you know it has something to do with your network or possibly your Internet Service Provider. Did your network administrator install a hardware firewall, perhaps?
If you can get to the internet, and others can send email, and you still have the problem, then you need to find what has changed with your workstation or with your office network. Things like: did you just install a personal firewall or security suite on your workstation? Another prudent step would be to run a virus scan to insure there isn't a virus that is intentionally blocking you from sending email.
If you are still having problems, then give our office a call.
If all else fails, and you are expecting an important email, or need to send one, then you can use the Webmail client. In your web browser go to: http://mail.yourdomain.com (remember: replace yourdomain.com with your company's real domain name). Here you will be asked for your complete email address and password.
You can use this email client anytime. A lot of our clients will use it if they go out on the road or away on vacation; we even have a few who use it as their full-time email client. One thing to keep in mind is that each mailbox has 50MB filesize quota. If you reach that limit, any new messages will bounce back to the sender with a message stating you are over quota. Please keep an eye of this.
Troubleshooting Your Website
Error codes can come in many different formats. Perhaps it says you that you have a database error, or that the server cannot be found, or that the page is incomplete, or a file can't be found. The list can go on and on.
Often we get clients calling or emailing us and saying just, "My site is broken." It is very difficult to resolve the issue unless we can get a good ides what "broken" means. If you should find that you've been hit with an error code, please copy and paste that error code string into an email. In that same email also include the page on your site that you saw this error code on, and what time and date you saw this error. It also helps if you let us know what you were doing; were you submitting a form, or just viewing a page? That can make a big difference. Once you have gathered this pertinent information, send the email to us.
This can be very scary! Fortunately it just means that there is a simple programming error on that page. In this case we would need you to tell us what page on your site you saw this "white screen of death" and what you were doing on your site right before you got to this screen. Were you filling out a form, or did you just submit one? Or were you just visiting the page? Letting us know the time and date you saw this can help, too.
This is very broad statement. Unfortuately there are many different variables that can cause this, too. The easiest way to troublshoot this problem is to record in an email to us the operating system you are using (Windows Vista, XP, etc., Mac OSX Version 3, 4, 5, etc.), the browser you are using (IE 6, 7, 8, etc., Firefox 2, 3, etc., Safari 3, 4, etc.), the size of your monitor you are viewing it on (15". 17" , 19", etc.), and the resolution (1024x768, 1280x800, 1344x840, etc.).
Do you see now that so many things can affect the way your website looks to different people? You may have viewed your website on your computer at work, and then gone home and looked at it from there and seen something quite different. This is not that uncommon. We do our best to design our sites to look great across many operating systems and browsers, but sometimes we just can't cover all the bases.
The very best solution to this problem when your site looks "funny" is to take a screenshot of what you are seeing. A picture can speak a thousand words to us. A picture, and all the information about your computer, browser, and monitor together should be emailed to us so we can better understand what "funny" looks like. We've been known to say, "If we can't replicate the problem, we can't fix it."
We hear this often. Most of the time it is because your site has been cached in your browser. Your browser keeps temporary internet files in memory to make loading the same site next time much quicker. This is called cache, and it can certainly be the reason you can't see changes we've made to your site.
Click on the help screen links below to access your specific browser's instructions for removing cache: