Troubleshooting connection problems with an e-mail client, such as the freebie Mozilla Thunderbird e-mail program can be frustrating and tricky. If you are having problems retrieving your e-mail or getting it configured correctly, don’t give up. Most solutions are pretty simple. In this article we cover some of the more common connection issues you might find when using Thunderbird.
Most e-mail addresses today use the POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) Internet protocol for receiving e-mail. With POP3 your e-mail is held on a mail server. You can download your mail to an e-mail client. Typically, the e-mail is deleted from the server when it is downloaded, but it can be set up to retain the e-mail messages.
An alternative Internet mail protocol is IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol). IMAP provides some enhanced capabilities and is useful for dealing with large volumes of mail that may need to be organized. Most hosing companies today use POP3. If you are not sure about your situation, ask the ISP or hosting company. The e-mail documentation they provide will usually tell you which protocol you are working with.
Most of the configuration issues with receiving e-mail can be resolved in the Server Settings section for each e-mail address in Thunderbird. Each e-mail address is configured separately.
- Select Account Settings from the Tools menu.
- Select Server Settings under the e-mail address you wish to troubleshoot.
The section that you want is at the top of the right-hand side.
If anything in this section is incorrect, you will not be able to download your e-mail. After making each change, click the OK button on this screen, close Thunderbird, re-open Thunderbird, and try to download your e-mail messages once again. If you do not have detailed instructions from your ISP or hosting company, this is a trial-and-error process.
The first thing to check is the Server Name. This identifies your mail server. You will need to get this information from your hosting company or ISP. Most mail servers are identified by using a subdomain preceding the domain name, such as mail.tech-evangelist.com. Some use other subdomain names, such as ipostoffice.tech-evangelist.com. Once again, the only way to know is to find out how your mail server is configured.
Next, check the User Name. Sometimes this is the entire e-mail address and sometimes is is just the account name, which is the portion of the e-mail address to the left of the @ sign.
The third item to test is the Security Settings. Most mail servers do not use a secure connection, so Never would be checked. I’ve seen a few that use TLS (Transport Layer Security), which is a type of secure connection. If Never didn’t work, try TLS, if available. There are also a few e-mail servers that use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) for secure connections. Secure connections encypt the messages as they are downloaded, which prevents others from intercepting your messages. I have an AT&T e-mail account that requires SSL. When you click the SSL radio button, the port number will change.
You can also try checking the Use Secure Authentication box, but thus far I have never had to do that when setting up an e-mail account.
There is a very small possibility that your ISP or hosting company is using a non-standard port. Thunderbird does allow you to change the port, but you should never do that unless instructed to do so by your ISP or hosting company. If the port is wrong, you will not make the proper server connection.
If none of this works, make sure that you do indeed have an active Internet connection. If your browser can access the Internet, you should be able to retrieve your e-mail.
By now your problems receiving e-mail should have been resolved. Most of the time when I’ve run into issues setting up new e-mail accounts in Thunderbird, the issue was an incorrect User Name or Security Setting. Remember to save the settings each time you make a change by clicking the OK button. It is also best if you shut down and restart Thunderbird to make sure that your changes are reloaded. After that, test it again.