Cannot find server
October 7, 2005 6:47 AM   Subscribe

Why can't Outlook find my SMTP server?

Since two days, I can't send e-mail anymore from Outlook, Outlook Express (on a different account) or Thunderbird. Webmail works, my domain name & POP mail provider is a friend who assures me that the SMTP server works fine. My SSL and other settings are fine.

My g/f can't mail either from her laptop, which is all the more baffling. Uninstalling my virus scanner did not help. I can't remember updating any software or fiddling with my wireless router (Linksys WAG54G, which is in itself a POS, but that's not relevant here).

Hope me please?
posted by NekulturnY to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
Has your ISP stopped allowing SMTP relays? That's the thing that seems most likely to me if you were not using their SMTP server.
posted by briank at 6:50 AM on October 7, 2005

Try your ISP's SMTP server instead of yours - fixed a similar problem of mine a while back, but I don't know enough about the mechanics of it to say why, or how likely it is to work...
posted by monkey closet at 6:57 AM on October 7, 2005

What kind of error is being returned by the multitudinous mail clients that you've tried? Have you confirmed whether DNS lookups to the server are actually working? From there, confirming that you can actually route to the server would be helpful since there have been peering wars between a couple of the big backbone providers this week. It's possible that you or the server are being affected by that silliness.
posted by shagoth at 7:07 AM on October 7, 2005

If both you and your girlfriend are experiencing the problem on different computers that rules out anything on your computer. So either it is a problem with the router in which case you can try reseting it back to the factory default either using the web interface or the pin reset on the back (if its like my netgear router) otherwise the other posters are right and now your ISP wants all outgoing traffic to go through their own SMTP server. You might want to try contacting your ISP to see if they can confirm that for you.
posted by TheCassiniDivision at 7:08 AM on October 7, 2005

2ning monkeycloset.

A number of ISPs block SMTP relaying.
posted by k8t at 7:09 AM on October 7, 2005

Got it. Some rude tech kid informed me that I was not important enough to relay mail through a different server than theirs. Well, glad we got that sorted. Thanks guys.
posted by NekulturnY at 7:16 AM on October 7, 2005

I'll third or fourth the idea that your ISP has probably blocked SMTP relaying, and so you won't be able to connect to any SMTP server other than your ISP's (or, one being run by someone else using your ISP). Cablevision (Optimum Online) started blocking outgoing SMTP back around December; I didn't find out until I went home for break (from college) and found I couldn't send mail anymore. Eventually, I uncovered a notice on their website that announced they'd be doing it, to block spam, of course, and that if you needed to send mail, you should use their server or pay them an exorbinant amount of money for a "business class" account.

However, if the error you're getting is the same as the title of this post ("Cannot find server"), then it probably isn't an SMTP-blocking issue, since that would get an error like "Could not connect to server." Is the SMTP server the same (or on the same network) as the POP/webmail, and if not, is your friend on the same ISP as you? There's some mention lately about two big ISPs ending a peering agreement, so some traffic from one's network (which includes smaller ISPs) isn't getting to the other's network (and the smaller ISPs over there).
posted by Godbert at 7:17 AM on October 7, 2005

Well, that'll teach me to read any new posts when I preview mine.
posted by Godbert at 7:17 AM on October 7, 2005

If the problem is with your ISP blocking the traffic, you might be able to work around it by switching to a different port. Of course, your SMTP server needs to support that alternate. But RCN, for example, will let SMTP traffic through if it's on alternate ports.
posted by alms at 7:41 AM on October 7, 2005

If you can SSH to a machine that you have at home while you're out with your laptop, you can port forward your laptop's SMTP connections to your desktop, and have the desktop make the SMTP connections on your behalf. This essentially turns your desktop into an SMTP relay, but one that's not blocked by your ISP.
posted by Wild_Eep at 10:17 AM on October 7, 2005

If you get yourself a Gmail account, you can turn on POP3/SMTP access in that account, then use Google's SMTP server for trouble-free outgoing mail. It's encrypted, and not on port 25, so your ISP will probably not be blocking it.
posted by flabdablet at 8:30 AM on October 9, 2005

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