Mail error on Windows box
December 10, 2004 3:35 AM   Subscribe

Browser works, POP mail doesn't. Possible TCP/IP problem in Windows XP. [+]

A friend got a new computer yesterday (Windows XP, SP2). Out of the box, he just plugged in his ethernet cable before the first boot-- connected directly to a cable modem. Now he can browse the Internet, but any POP account he tries to set up in Outlook or Thunderbird gives a "TCP/IP error."

He shut the firewall off, but it didn't help. I suspect that it's an improperly configured connection, but he's many miles away so I can't go there and fiddle myself. And I'm sick of talking to a noob over the phone and I don't know networking well enough to make any more suggestions.

I know this is a bit vague, but does anyone have any ideas as to how to fix this? If you need more info, let me know-- I'll respond quickly and tell you what I can. And don't worry about talking to me like I'm stupid-- I already feel stupid with this one.
posted by Mayor Curley to Computers & Internet (20 answers total)
 
If his winsock is screwed up (all too common on XP) you can use this utility to auto-repair it. Hopefully. :)
posted by shepd at 3:56 AM on December 10, 2004


strange error for poor config.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:09 AM on December 10, 2004


any error number (maybe in whatever xp has for a system log)?
posted by andrew cooke at 4:11 AM on December 10, 2004


Response by poster: strange error for poor config.

I was the only thing I could think of, given that it's out of the box and that's the only thing he's done to it.

I'll check the error number when I talk to him.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:20 AM on December 10, 2004


If it was only Outlook screwing up I'd be inclined to think it might be this,
but Thunderbird not working either? Hmmm.

I'm thinking that if it's a PC his friendly local dealer put together for him, chances are it has Norton Internet Security installed, and chances are the Norton e-mail scanning proxy isn't set up right.

Personally I don't like Norton Internet Security; I've seen it do really bizarre things to otherwise stable Winboxen, plus I object to paying for virus database updates that other suppliers will give me for nothing. If he has it, you might care to have him try turning it off temporarily to see if his problem goes away. If it does, install Firefox for browsing (which fixes 99% of what Norton tries to stop IE from doing), then uninstall Norton and replace it with AVG 7.0 Free from www.grisoft.com.
posted by flabdablet at 4:25 AM on December 10, 2004


Well, since you didn't say that you are 100% sure his/her account details are setup right, that'd be the first place I would look. Correct pop/smtp servers, correct username/password. Simple, I know, but most problems I deal with every day are simple.
posted by pemdasi at 4:39 AM on December 10, 2004


As a first cut, I suggest trying to telnet to port 110 on the pop server.

If you can connect, the problems with the email app. If not, it's at the OS layer or below.
posted by Leon at 4:43 AM on December 10, 2004


Response by poster: Correct pop/smtp servers, correct username/password. Simple, I know, but most problems I deal with every day are simple.

That part's totally covered (both with me and MSN tech support.)

I'm going to try Leon's suggestion, then I'm going to have him try flabdablet's suggestion despite Thunderbird not working. If anyone else has a plan of attack, I'm still listening.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:00 AM on December 10, 2004


Although it doesn't fit with the rather bizarre sounding error message try checking the proxy settings.

If IE's going via a proxy but the mail clients aren't then you'll get different connectivity results for each. The MS Proxy/Firewall client I used to run at work would screw up my settings all the time.
posted by grahamspankee at 5:23 AM on December 10, 2004


what's.
the.
exact.
error.
message?
posted by glenwood at 6:43 AM on December 10, 2004


1st thing I'd do is double check the account details, some ISPs use odd login info. Double check username, password, and mail servers.

2nd thing I'd do. Uninstall Norton Internet Security. It's a piece of crap. He'll be relatively safe behind his cable modem, it should be running NAT.

Third, run a Google search on the error number, check the forums, do all of that.

Trying pinging (ping example.com) the mail server, then if successful, telnet to it ("telnet example.com pop3") and if you can, login ("user username", then "pass hispassword", type list to retrieve a list of his messages.)

Try flushing the dns cache, resetting the tcp/ip stack, reinstalling the program.
("ipconfig /flushdns" and "netsh int ip reset c:\resetlog.txt")

failing that.. call one of the monkeys in tech support.
posted by jackofsaxons at 6:44 AM on December 10, 2004


I dunno... this sounds vaguely familiar to when I set up my home network. It wasn't POP, though, it was that the computers couldn't talk to each other, but both talked the net fine. After dickering with it for a month, I found a setting in Windows setup for network support. Could there be a POP support setting in Win setup that is not set right?

I only bring this up because this particular remedy was not mentioned in any website, message board, tech support, etc. I tripped over it all by myself. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.
posted by Doohickie at 6:45 AM on December 10, 2004


Response by poster: what's.
the.
exact.
error.
message?


I won't know until later today. So please, please keep an eye on this thread. Even after it's buried under a list of problems nowhere near as dire and deserving as mine.

I thank everyone who's weighed in so far, and graciously say "Don't, don't, don't, don't yoooou. Forget about meeeee!"
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:22 AM on December 10, 2004


Or post all of the POP3 login information so we can test it here.

:)
posted by glenwood at 8:28 AM on December 10, 2004


Re: XP Winsock errors, that's unlikely to be the issue here; by being able to browse the web without problems, that sort of eliminates that. (According to this page, the typical symptom is not being able to browse the web.)

I'm with glenwood -- we need more than just "TCP/IP error" to be able to help with this one. That being said, my first guess would be similar to flabdablet, that there's some sort of virus scanner installed and interfering with the mail apps. (That's a bit simplified -- most of the time, the antivirus stuff changes your mail app account settings so that you're proxying through a locally-running mail server that requests your mail for you, scans it, and then feeds it to your mail client. If MSN tech support verified that his server wasn't set to the correct distant host, and not a local proxy, then that mostly eliminates this as a possibility.)

Doohickie, that makes absolutely no sense as a solution here. There's no system-wide "network setup" setting -- at least in Windows XP -- that would explain how the computer can use the web via a network connection without issue but couldn't contact a mail server. It sounds like you discovered the settings for local file and print sharing?

In the end, an exact error message would be most helpful.
posted by delfuego at 8:29 AM on December 10, 2004


(Oops. On post-preview -- "If MSN tech support verified that his server was set to the correct distant host...")
posted by delfuego at 8:30 AM on December 10, 2004


He'll be relatively safe behind his cable modem, it should be running NAT.

Noooooooooooooooooo... cable modems are typically bridges.
posted by kindall at 11:17 AM on December 10, 2004


delfuego- What I refered to earlier can be found at Start> Set Program Access and Defaults> Add/Remove Windows Components. In there is a list of check boxes, one of which is Networking Services. (Networking Service Details include Internet Gateway Device Discovery and Control Client, Peer-to-Peer, RIP Listener, Simple TCP/IP Services, and UPnP User Interface.) Currently, they are all checked. When none were checked, I could get to the internet, but couldn't get my two computers to talk to each other. Try it and see.

Anyway, maybe Curley can check into that as well. I have no idea what that mumbo-jumbo means, but it couldn't hurt to try checking them if they are unchecked, could it?
posted by Doohickie at 8:07 PM on December 10, 2004


so?
posted by andrew cooke at 7:26 AM on December 11, 2004


So.... delfuego said "There's no system-wide "network setup" setting -- at least in Windows XP", but I was showing him where there is. And also, it seems like most manuals assume you have properly installed all the Win components for the functionality you want and never suggest checking them. I'm just sayin' that it wouldn't hurt for Mayor Curley to look at those settings and make sure that they are checked, cuz otherwise Networking doesn't work right (and maybe internet access too... I don't know). Someone asked for help and I suggested something relatively obscure that isn't mentioned in tech support that I discovered.
posted by Doohickie at 4:17 PM on December 11, 2004


« Older Sharp, twangy-sounding Telecaster pickups?   |   Resources for Dyslexic Students Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.