Before I can explain how to troubleshoot an email problem, let me explain my unique email situation. I have three email accounts:

  • Cable ISP for family and friends using Outlook 2007
  • MSN Hotmail account also using Outlook 2007.
  • Gmail account for general email and to sync with Android smart phone using Mozilla Thunderbird.

My problem began yesterday, Monday, November 1st, when my primary ISP account (received via Outlook 2007) stopped working. I could neither send nor receive email. I also noticed that my outbox showed undeliverable emails backing up and not appearing to be sent. However, I soon received a phone call from a family member that stated that the mail was being sent, over and over again.

What to Do when Your Email Stops WorkingOver the years, I’ve learned that if you haven’t made any changes to your email account, there are only a few things that can go wrong:

  • The problem is with your ISP. Give it a call and verify that all is well on its end. If you can log into your email account online, this is also another way to verify that your account is working OK.
  • A recent update to either your email program or to Windows itself has gone haywire.
  • Your anti-virus program is acting up due to a recent update or upgrade and is causing issues.

Outlook 2007 would send and receive MSN Hotmail just fine, but not from my cable ISP account. I called my cable ISP and was informed that since I was able to log into my account on the Internet and with no reported outages, the problem was with Outlook and I would need to uninstall and reinstall the program. Right, like I was going to believe that.

Instead I downloaded Windows Live, set up my cable ISP email account, and could not connect to the email server. I checked to confirm that my email settings, POP3 settings, and SMTP settings were all correct. Nothing. My cable ISP email could not send or receive, yet my MSN Hotmail account and Gmail accounts worked perfectly.

On a whim I disabled the inbound and outgoing mail settings in my anti-virus program and the email worked once again. For what it’s worth, I use avast! free anti-virus, which has never caused any issues until this happened.

I hope these diagnostic steps will help someone else who may experience this type of a problem.

Comments welcome.