Understanding Email: It’s Not Always Your Host's Fault

A lot of people are often confused about email accounts and how they relate to their email client (Microsoft Outlook, Thunderbird, Windows Live Mail etc...) which they have on their computer. Because of this, a lot of web hosts and email hosts are contacted for support when things go wrong and it really has nothing to do with them. I am going to briefly explain the relationship between the two to help people to better understand what is going on.

If you have an email account with your web host, or any email host for that matter, you will most likely have a web based login where you can access your email account. This would be accessed directly from a web page, where you would enter your email address and password to log in and view your emails. A lot of people have email client software installed on their computers, e.g. Microsoft Outlook. Because a lot of computers come with this type of software pre-installed, a lot of people think that this program is their email. This is not the case.

Your email is stored on a mail server, which you can access directly when you log into your webmail account via your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox etc...). To make life easier, people use a standalone email client to do this part for them. When you set up your email account in your email client, you are giving it all the details it needs to go to your email host and log in to your account for you. It then retrieves all of your emails and downloads them to your computer so you can view them directly in your email client.

So, basically your email client software is just like a messenger that goes off and fetches your emails from your email account. There are different types of email (POP3/IMAP) and many different settings within your email client to determine how your emails are handled, such as removing them from the mail server when you delete them in Outlook.

Mail Send and Receive Errors

Occasionally, these email clients get updates. Some are automatic and some will ask your permission before installing. Sometimes these updates can cause problems with how the program communicates with an existing account that is already set up and you go to check your mail or send a message and are interrupted with an error message. A lot of people automatically assume that their email host is to blame. They aren't! You can always go and try logging directly into your webmail account, and the chances are, if you can log in to your webmail, the problem lies with your email client.

The Solutions

The solutions to these problems can vary from things like creating an exception in your antivirus software, changing a port number, removing and re-adding your account, or even just a computer reboot. When you do get an error message, it should have an error number. Type it in to Google and see if it is a known problem with a simple fix...almost all errors have a solution posted in a forum somewhere. Failing that, use the support pages of your email client's website.

I hope that has made the connection between your email software and your email account a little bit clearer and hopefully you will be able to troubleshoot it yourself next time.

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Comment by webintechs on 14th May 2012 @ 9:05 am (GMT)

Thanks for taking time for sharing this article, it was excellent and very informative itâs my first time that I visit here i found a lot of informative stuff in your article keep it up thank you.

Comment by Kirsty on 29th May 2011 @ 9:05 pm (GMT)

I never thought of typing the error number into Google, that should save me bothering my webmaster! This blog helps loads, Cheers Dean.

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Deanblog is a collection of articles written by Dean Morgan from Deanzod Limited. The aim of the site is to provide helpful information for everyone from web designers & developers right through to website owners. I will try and keep a good balance of information such as php/mySQL tutorials, html/css tutorials along with marketing ideas and advice for website owners.

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