This post goes over some common (and not so common) email issues, as well as their solutions. Email can be tricky sometimes, so hopefully these general solutions help a bit!
Q: Why is my email not working?
A: The first important thing to check is whether it's the email client (Outlook, Thunderbird, Mac Mail) that's having issues, or the email server. That can be done by testing your email through webmail. If you are a site manager client, you can use webmail.westhost.com (or one of the other webmail clients, if you have them installed). If you are a cPanel client, you can use yourdomain.com/webmail.
Are you able to send and receive correctly through webmail? If so, then the problem is most likely with a setting in your email client. If you are not able to send and receive through webmail as well, then the issue is most likely on the server end. Check to see if there is an outtage on your server by going to http://netstatus.westhost.com. If there is not one posted, please contact us.
Q: I can send through webmail, but all of a sudden I can no longer send in my email client? I can receive email, but I can't send.
This is usually caused by your ISP blocking port 25. Many ISP's block port 25 in order to reduce outgoing spam. If this is the case, you will need to use the alternate port, 2525. If you are on site manager, please note that you need to have a dedicated IP address in order to use 2525. You can open the port by doing the following:
Login to your site manager -> Install/Manage Applications -> Choose the "Install Sendmail on an Alternate Port" option. Once that's installed, change your outgoing port to 2525 in your email client.
If you are on a cPanel account, 2525 will be open by default.
Q:I still can't send, and I get errors about "relaying denied - proper authentication required"?
A: In your email client, make sure any authentication settings for outgoing server is set to password, and that the outgoing server is set to require authentication. For example, in Outlook it would be in the more settings section under Outgoing server. "My Outgoing server requires authentication" should be checked, as well as "Use same settings as my incoming mail server." Other email clients will have similar settings that ask for "Authentication" type, which should be set to password.
Also, ensure that you have the proper username format:
Site manager clients
-If you have a shared IP, username should be in the format "email@example.com"
-If you have a dedicated IP, username should be in the format "username" (without @domain.com).
-All cPanel clients should have the format "firstname.lastname@example.org" or "username+domain.com".
Q: Why am I getting errors that say something about a POP lock, or I just randomly cannot connect?
A: Site manager by default uses a POP3 mail server. POP3 is a mail protocol that handles all email for a user in one large file. In order to prevent data corruption, it puts a lock on the email file while you are checking your email. This means that if you have more than one device connecting at the same time, it can kick you out due to that lock. Because of that, you'll want to give a minute or so between checking with one device or another.
Sometimes POP locks won't release themselves correctly. If that seems to be happening, please contact us so that we can remove it.
Additionally, a POP lock can sometimes be put on if there is already some corruption in the mail file. That is another thing that you would want to contact WestHost about. In order to prevent that, it is best to keep your mailbox on the server under 100MB at all times. We recommend setting up your email program to periodically remove messages from the server, or to clear them out periodically yourself by logging into webmail.
Alternatively, you can install IMAP on your account instead.
Q: What's the difference between IMAP and POP?
Whereas POP3 stores all of your email in one large file on the server, IMAP works on a directory structure. Emails are each stored in their own files. IMAP allows for multiple connections at the same time, and also allows you to sync your folders on the server with what's on your device(s). Additionally, IMAP does not have the same problems with large mailboxes that POP does, so you can go higher than 100MB with IMAP.
Because of all of these reasons, IMAP is generally speaking a superior mail protocol. If you would like to use IMAP on your site manager account you can install it in the "Install/Manage" section of your site manager, under "Dovecot IMAP server". Please keep in mind that all of the email accounts on the server will now only work as IMAP accounts (by default). This means that you will need to re-setup your email account in your email client to IMAP accounts instead of POP3 accounts. Most email clients will require you to re-setup the account to change it to IMAP.
The mail servers settings will be the same, but the incoming port number is 143 with IMAP.
All cPanel accounts have IMAP by default.
Q: I'm getting bouncebacks saying that my IP is blocked. What can be done to fix that?
A: Periodically your IP address may get blacklisted. You can check to see what blacklists it is on here:
If you are on a shared IP address, it's possible that someone else may be abusing the IP. If that is the case, we recommend upgrading to a dedicated IP. If you are on site manager you can order a dedicated IP here:
If you have a cPanel account, you can order one through cp.westhost.com -> Services -> Add-ons.
This will mean that you are the only one using that IP, which should resolve most issues with blocked IP's.
However, if you have a dedicated IP and you are still getting blacklisted, you will need to work with the administrators of those blacklists to discover why, and to request that you be removed. If you are sending out large mailing lists, please remember to follow good emailing procedures (throttling your email, keeping your list up to date, including an unsubscribe link) to help prevent this from happening.
Q: Why am I getting bounceback messages from emails I didn't send?
A: There's two possibilities:
1 - Someone is spoofing your domain. Spoofing is where a spammer takes a domain name and puts it in the header. They do this so that when they send out emails and the emails are bounced back, they do not go back to the spammer, but to the domain name they placed in the header. The best way to combat this is with a SPF record on your domain.
Basically, an SPF record determines who is able to send from your domain. (You can read more about SPF here: http://www.openspf.org/Introduction). For example, if your spf record says that email from mydomain.com can only come from the MX record for mydomain.com, if a mail server gets an email from somewhere else, they have the choice to reject it.
Please note that this is not a complete solution for the issue of spoofing. You will likely get more bouncebacks for some time as mail servers reject the emails that have been spoofed. However, most spoofers will check to see if a domain has an SPF record first before trying to spoof it. This should definitely help cut down on that issue.
If you are a site manager client you will need to contact us to have that SPF record added. If you are a cPanel client, you can add one in your cPanel under the "Email Authentication" section.
2 - The other possibility is that your mail server has been compromised. The only ways that can happen is through a compromised password, a compromised computer, or a vulnerable script or application. You will want to change all of your passwords, run virus scans on your local computers, and make sure any scripts or applications that you are running are up to date and secure.
Hopefully this helps a bit. If you've run into any other issues, or have any other questions about email, feel free to ask! I'll try to update the post as well if there's something particular that people would find useful.