Maddening email client issue.
January 16, 2013 1:56 PM   Subscribe

I'm having trouble with Thunderbird connecting to incoming/outgoing servers, but only intermittently. I can't for the life of me figure out how/where to isolate the problem. Can you help point me in the right direction?

I'm going crazy trying to solve this.

Thunderbird is intermittently able to send and receive. Occasionally it can retrieve messages from the POP server but not send via SMTP. Sometimes both work, sometimes neither works. This changes repeatedly over the course of the day. Webmail works; it's just not pulling the messages off of the server, and occasionally claiming that the settings need to be checked for outgoing. The thing is, it works some of the time, then stops. If I restart my computer I can usually get 15-30 minutes of proper functioning, but then it just starts hanging or kicking up the error message.

I have done just about everything I can find on various forums (I'm not the only one with this problem)-- changing ports/SSL settings, uninstalling/reinstalling Thunderbird, turning on/off all my various firewalls and security settings. (I'm running AVG, Windows Security Essentials, and the installed Windows firewall). I have no trouble reaching web pages in any of my browsers. My husband (with whom I share an office) has precisely the same Thunderbird default settings that I'm using (I set it up on his machine) and is experiencing no problems-- neither on his work computer nor his home computer nor the default Android email client on his phone.

The thing is, it IS working on my machine with firewalls activated and default settings enabled--- just not all the time. This is the part that's crazy-making! The problem persists whether I'm at home or at work (two different ISPs/routers). GoDaddy of course claims that it's a client issue and not a server-side problem.

Other possibly relevant factors/issues I'm having:
--- Filezilla is having the same problem-- can connect some of the time to the server I need to access but only intermittently.
--- My bank tells me that there's probably some phishing malware on my computer as they've had to deactivate my debit card twice because they've detected potentially malicious activity. Neither AVG nor Microsoft Security Essentials are finding anything on my machine. If this isn't relevant, then it's a question for another day.
--- YouTube videos crash my computer-- possibly a Flash issue (probably unrelated to this problem)

I had this problem to a lesser degree over the last year or so but when we replaced our work router it cleared up the problem for a couple of weeks. It has only become unmanageable/unworkable over the last week. Complaints on the GoDaddy support pages indicate that many other users have been having trouble over the past week as well, but GoDaddy claims that since webmail is working then their responsibility is covered.

Do you have any idea, based on these details, where I should start to look for the problem? I'm sure I've missed some relevant details but I'm happy to answer any questions. Thanks!
posted by mireille to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
Hey... so I'm actually a Dev on the GoDaddy email team. I don't do anything directly with infrastructure, but I have a pretty solid understanding of our system. That said, I'm not aware of any widespread or long-lasting issues with our system... and I suspect you're right, it's something internal to you, especially if your husband's machine is working just fine pretty much all the time.

If I can help in some way, mefi mail me, I might be able to look into it. If your bank is telling you there's a problem, though, you might want to take that seriously.
posted by ph00dz at 3:09 PM on January 16, 2013

You don't mention if your husband has the same firewall/virus checking as you, just the Thunderbird settings. Might that be the difference?

I'd be inclined to backup the important documents then completely format the drive and start again, particularly in light of what your bank is saying. I'd probably move away from AVG to Avast too, but that's just a personal choice.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 3:49 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah, I'm working on the bank thing-- there are a couple of AskMes about the exact same problem, and I'm going through the suggestions there. The email thing became more urgent because I couldn't get work done, and that took precedence over the next time I'd need to access online banking with my new card.

Oddly enough, Thunderbird has been sending and receiving just fine today, after three solid days of mostly-downtime. Filezilla's fine too. We'll see how the rest of the week goes.

I'm hesitant to start over as I've done so twice in the last four months (on two different computers, newly formatted drives each, complicated story), but I had backed up all docs on my original computer to an external drive and restored from there, re-installing applications from new on each computer. I did use MozBackup for Firefox and Thunderbird, and if the problems (bank or email) are in those settings, or hiding in other documents on my drive, it would explain why the problem seems to be following me. It would be very much less-than-desirable to try the same thing yet again because if I want to keep all my docs and emails and Firefox settings (which I need!), I'll just end up with the same result. I'll focus my energy on finding the phishing issue and with any luck that'll be the culprit, and the solution will fix both problems.

Thanks for the input!
posted by mireille at 12:25 PM on January 17, 2013

Response by poster: In case anyone comes back here, thought I'd update. The problem only occurs when I have BitComet running (regardless of whether or not I'm, um, "borrowing" something). The problem is solved by closing the program and restarting my computer.

Still don't understand why, but at least the problem has been isolated.
posted by mireille at 10:47 AM on March 28, 2013

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