Why can’t I send my Email?

If you use client-based email like Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Eudora, or Entourage, you may experience trouble sending email from Wi-Fi hotspots. If you missed my introduction to client-based email vs. web-based email, please read Email Choices on the Road first. In today’s article I will go into detail on how to properly configure your email client for outgoing email.

The first thing to understand is that receiving email and sending email are two separate processes handled by different servers. People ask me all the time, “I receive my email just fine, so why can’t I send?”

Images for Incoming and Outgoing mail servers

On the Internet’s email system, the place where you receive your email is usually a ‘POP’ server which stands for ‘Post Office Protocol.’ You will receive your email at the POP server for your email provider. Sending email is handled by a different server, called SMTP for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. It used to be that you could send email by dropping it into any old SMTP server (just like a regular postal mailbox.) SMTP servers all over the Internet would accept any email given to them, and happily send it on.

All that has changed because of spam. Most SMTP servers have locked down and will now only accept email from known customers for fear of being liable for sending spam. Proving that you’re a known customer is called ‘Authenticating.’ You must now provide a username and password to the outgoing server (SMTP) as well as the incoming. This is done with settings in your email client software. I will use Outlook as my example. Detailed instructions for other software are included with many of the links later in the article.

When you are at home and you are connected to your home ISP (Internet Service Provider), your Outlook SMTP setting is probably also set to your ISP. You are authenticated to them because you are logged in to their service. They know who you are and they are happy to deliver your email.

Outgoing email server settingsWhen you are on the road and using a Wi-Fi signal to connect to the Internet – your home SMTP setting probably won’t work since you’re not connecting thru your home ISP, they don’t know you. They see you simply as some Internet connection from an RV park or a coffee shop somewhere far away. Without some authentication, they refuse to deliver your email.

There is an advanced setting in Outlook ‘Accounts’ under ‘Outgoing Server’ that can help … First click on Tools, Accounts or Account Settings, select the account you want to work on and click Change or Properties. You should see a button for More Settings … find and check the box that says “My Outgoing Server (SMTP) requires authentication” and “Use same settings as my incoming mail server”. This will solve the problem in many situations, but not all.

Outgoing email advanced settingsI hope you’re not too confused yet because there’s more! When email gets sent from your computer it passes through an imaginary doorway called a ‘port.’ The normal port for this process is number 25. Sometimes that port will be blocked entirely. Whether you’re authenticated or not, your email just can’t get out. There are other port numbers available, but only your email provider can specify which one to use, so you must get this information from them. Usually, you can find this information on their website. Sometimes you need to call.

In our work supporting Wi-Fi hotspots in RV parks for the last 4 years, my husband and I have helped many RVers to send their email. We always need to look up the settings for each person’s email provider. Below, I have links to helpful instructions for many such providers.

Outlook Express setup instructions for Comcast.net
SMTP settings for Earthlink
AOL Open Mail Access
Gmail setup instructions for several different email clients
Cox.net email setup instructions
Juno.com: Using Authenticated SMTP
AT&T-Yahoo-SBCGlobal email setup instructions
Email hosted by GoDaddy.com
Email hosted by 1and1.com

If you’re only away from home occasionally, using Webmail is the best way to go. You visit the website that your email provider offers and log into your mailbox. Since you’re logged in there – it knows who you are and will happily deliver your email.

If you really want to use a client-based email software and none of the above settings help,there is one more option. Use a different SMTP server.

SMTP settingsFor example, I have an email address (@jimandchris.com) from long ago using a little-known host. I can receive the emails no problem using the settings @jimandchris.com, but I cannot send using the jimandchris SMTP server no matter how I change the settings. So .. for the SMTP settings, I don’t use the server supplied with the jimandchris.com account. I use the SMTP server settings from one that works – like Gmail. If you do this, just make sure that you do not check ‘use same settings as my incoming mail server.’ You’ll need to Log on using the name and password for the SMTP server.  Gmail has detailed instructions on setting up your mail client - the only part of these instructions I am referring to is the Outgoing Server.

The WiFi hotspot may also have their own SMTP server that will work when you are using their network. Just remember to change it back when you leave there.

Chris Guld

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