Troubleshooting common issues with email

  • Applies to: Grid
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • Time Needed: 10
    • Tools Required: None
  • Applies to: VPS Hosting
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • Time Needed: 10
    • Tools Required: None
  • Applies to: Legacy DV & VPS Hosting
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • Time Needed: 10
    • Tools Required: None


Email covers a broad category of services. Some errors are easy to diagnose while others require a bit of investigation. This article is intended to help with that investigation. Skim through the topics in this section to see if your specific issue is addressed. If you're not sure where to start or if the article you first click on doesn't resolve the issue, please go through our practical guide to troubleshooting walkthrough in the next section for further assistance.

New domain and DNS

If you've recently added your domain to your (mt) Media Temple server, start here. This section also covers basic DNS settings.


If you or your contact are receiving bouncebacks, start here:

I can't send or receive

First, check the DNS section here:

You may also have the wrong settings in your local email client. You can double-check your email client settings here:

You can also test the POP/IMAP services running on your server. The following article has more information on this.

If that doesn't resolve your issue, please see the practical guide to troubleshooting below.

I can receive, but I can't send

Make sure that Port 25 isn't blocked on your network.

Also, make sure that you are using authentication in your outgoing email settings. Apple Mail and related products (iPhone, iPad) tend to skip this during initial setup. Here's a list of walk-throughs for a variety of email clients:

For a larger and more specific list of errors, please see:

I can send, but I can't receive

Make sure that your mail service is enabled. mail service is enabled.

Also, check to make sure that you don't have a forwarder set up for the account that is sending all your email to a different email address. If you do have a forwarder set up, make sure it also keeps a copy in the original account.

Missing emails

If you are missing one or more email messages, or you never received an email you were expecting, start here. Check the third-party hosting section if you don't host your email with (mt) Media Temple.

Slow email and Disk Quota errors

If your inbox loads very slowly, or it is extremely slow to send and receive, start here. A Disk Quota Exceeded error is a definite indication of a mailbox size problem.

I'm getting bouncebacks or complaints that I'm sending spam.

If you suspect that spam is being sent from your email address, you may need to add an SPF record to your DNS zone file.

See this article for a detailed diagnosis:

See this article to add your SPF record:

Duplicate emails, or old emails downloading again

If you have multiple copies of the same email, start here:

A practical guide to troubleshooting

This is a practical, step-by-step approach to troubleshooting email problems.

Is the problem on the server?

  1. The best way to test server problems is to try to use your webmail. Webmail is hosted on the server itself, and so bypasses your network and your local email client. This makes it ideal for troubleshooting.
  2. Visit your webmail URL.
    • Please replace with your own domain name.
  3. Log into webmail with your full email address and email password.
  4. Send yourself a test message. You can send to this same email address, or to an external email address (such as a Hotmail or Gmail account). Reply to the message to test both sending and receiving.
  5. There are a small number of server problems that might not be "caught" by the webmail test. If you notice one of the following, please first continue with the next troubleshooting sections, because these problems are just as likely to be caused by a network or email client problem. If you finish troubleshooting and are still having one of the problems described below, continue to the final step.
    • If you have SMTP or Outgoing mail server connection problems, the mail server may be configured incorrectly.
    • If you have problems with POP but not IMAP, webmail uses IMAP only, so again, the mail server setting in your email client may be configured incorrectly.

Is the problem with the network?

Some email problems can occur between your computer and the (mt) Media Temple server. There are dozens of connection points between your computer and the server. There's a connection from your computer to your local network, from your local network to your Internet Service Provider, from your Internet Service Provider to the next Internet Service Provider down the line, and so on. A problem with one of these connection points is a network problem. Follow the steps below to continue troubleshooting:

  1. Run a telnet test to the server for the appropriate port. You can run this test from your command prompt (Terminal on Mac or Run > cmd on Windows). Click on the link for a step-by-step walkthrough. The general format of the test is as follows:
    telnet 25

    You should replace with your own mail server name (the same as your domain name in most cases), and 25 with the port number you are try to test. Here's a summary of port numbers related to email:

    • 25 - standard outgoing SMTP port
      • Note - this port is consistently blocked by Internet Service Providers in an effort to prevent spam. See the special Outgoing mail blocked on Port 25 section below for further assistance.
    • 587 - alternate outgoing SMTP port
    • 465 - SSL encrypted outgoing SMTP port
    • 110 - incoming POP port
    • 995 - SSL encrypted incoming POP port
    • 143 - incoming IMAP port
    • 993 - SSL encrypted incoming IMAP port
  2. Examine the results of your telnet test. A response of "220" or "Connected" indicates connection success - continue on to the email client troubleshooting below. A timeout or "Unable to connect" message indicates that you have a network problem.
  3. While a problem on a specific port may not show itself in a generic traceroute, it doesn't hurt to try. For detailed instructions, on running a traceroute, see Using the traceroute command. For quick reference, run one of the following from your command prompt:



    A timeout, or a few hops with only asterisks (*), may indicate a problem with the connection hop listed before or after the timeout.

  4. If you have identified a network problem, you will need to contact your local network administrator, or your Internet Service Provider, for further assistance. Even if the problem is downstream from your local Internet Service Provider, they may be able to reroute traffic for your domain through a different network path, so that you don't run into the bad network connection beyond them.

Outgoing mail blocked on Port 25

It is becoming more and more common for Internet Service Providers to block outgoing SMTP traffic on Port 25. This is part of their effort to block spam. There are two ways to get around this:

  1. Use Port 587 for outgoing email instead. You can switch your local email client to use Port 587 by following the appropriate guide here: You will also need to make sure that your server supports Port 587 for outgoing mail.
  2. Use your Internet Service Provider's outgoing SMTP server. You can contact your Internet Service Provider for the server name, username, and password. Your email will still be coming from your own email address at your own domain name; it will just be delivered by their server.

Is the problem with my local email client?

If your webmail test and your telnet tests from the previous section haven't turned up any server or network problems, this indicates that the problem is most likely with your local email client. The suggestions go in order from least to most changes required for your current setup.

  1. The best thing you can do for your email client is to double-check all of your settings. Even if they are correct, sometimes re-typing them can jog your email program into functioning correctly. We have a list of articles with the correct settings here: Third-party email applications.
  2. If that doesn't resolve the issue, you may want to try recreating the email account. Again, that can jog your software into using the correct settings. See the link above for helpful walkthroughs.
  3. Perform an online search for any specific error messages that you see in the email client. You can also search in that email program's help forums specifically.
  4. Contact the support team for your specific email application. Check their website for instructions on how to receive support.
  5. Reinstall the email client - note that this will delete any existing downloaded emails and custom settings!
  6. Try a different email client. Thunderbird is free and works on both Mac OS X and Windows.

What to submit if you need (mt) Media Temple help

  1. Exact email account that is experiencing the problem. Include two or three specific examples if multiple accounts are affected.
  2. Permission for (mt) Media Temple technicians to reset the email account password for testing. You will have to reset your email password afterward to regain access.
  3. All email clients used to check mail. Include whether you use POP or IMAP.
    Example: I use Outlook (IMAP) at work, my iPhone (POP) when I'm at business meetings, and webmail when I'm on vacation.
  4. Include any error messages that you are getting from your email software. Please copy and paste the exact error.
  5. Include any bouncebacks that you receive when you try to send email, or that your contacts receive when they try to send you email. Please copy and paste the entire bounceback.
  6. When did the problem start happening?
  7. Does the problem happen all the time, or intermittently? Does it happen at a specific time?
  8. Describe what you do that triggers the problem.
    Example: I get a popup error when I try to send an email; or, when I first connect to my inbox, it takes 10 minutes to load.

If you are trying to investigate a specific email, please also include the following:

  1. Exact subject line.
  2. Sender and recipient.
  3. Date and time email was sent, to within 15 minutes. Note that on the Grid, mail logs are kept for only one week, so the email must also be recent.
  4. Header information from the original email (may be located in your Sent folder). For more information, please see: How do I view email headers for a message?

Please make sure that the spelling, capitalization, and punctuation for the subject line and the sender and recipient are exactly correct. This is necessary for an accurate mail log search.

Email headers

Need all the details about a specific email? Every email comes with a header that includes information like timestamps for when it was sent and received, exact names of the mail servers it went through, and what elements triggered your spam filter. For instructions on how to find and interpret your email headers, see these two articles:

Was this article helpful?
1 out of 1 found this helpful