Why do I see an error message saying I need to "check incoming mail" before I send outgoing mail?
If you’re sending outgoing email through our servers, and you saw a message telling you to visit this page, you’re using old mail settings (settings we haven’t recommended using for many years — and even then we only recommended them for customers using AOL dialup modem connections, not for other customers).
A quick solution to the problem is to tell your mail program to “send and receive all messages” a couple of times. That will allow you to send outgoing mail in most cases.
The rest of this page explains why this problem happens. It also explains how to change your mail settings to avoid this problem in the future, which is something you should definitely do.
On this page:
- About “POP before SMTP”
- Does Tiger Technologies still support “POP before SMTP”?
- Can I change my old settings now?
About “POP before SMTP”
When you send outgoing email, our servers need to decide whether you’re a customer of ours, or an evil spammer trying to send spam through our servers.
The standard way to do this is for your email program to send a username and password with each outgoing email message. Our system checks those, makes sure you’re a legitimate customer, and accepts the outgoing mail.
Many years ago, some email programs didn’t have the ability to send a username and password with outgoing mail. Because of that, we (and other companies) needed another way to decide if you are a customer. The method we used was called “POP before SMTP”.
The system watched for “POP” connections that occur when you check for new incoming mail. Those connections always require a password. When it saw such a connection, it knew the computer at that IP address belonged to one of our customers. It then allowed that computer to send outgoing “SMTP” mail for a short time, even if the outgoing mail didn’t include a username and password.
The trouble was that if you hadn’t recently checked for new incoming mail, our servers wouldn’t know you were allowed to send outgoing mail. Even worse, if you happen to share an IP address with a spammer (or with a computer that’s infected with a spam-sending virus), our mail servers could allow spam to be sent using your address.
Does Tiger Technologies still support “POP before SMTP”?
No. It’s not available at all for new addresses our customers create, and because almost nobody uses AOL dialup connections any more, it’s not officially supported for older addresses, either.
Although we don’t recommend it, it may still work for a small handful of customers that were already relying on “POP before SMTP” years ago, because we try hard to ensure that any settings that previously worked for our customers continue to work. But we don’t guarantee that, and you can’t start using it for another address.
This shouldn’t be a problem. All popular mail programs have supported the proper “use a password for outgoing mail” method for at least a decade. Always use our current recommended email settings to set up a new mail account instead of trying the unreliable “POP before SMTP” method.
Can I change my old settings now?
Yes. You can update your outgoing mail settings so that your mail program sends an outgoing username and password, instead of relying on “POP before SMTP”.
To do this, just follow the instructions on this page to change your outgoing mail settings. (Although the page mentions changing the settings as a solution to a different problem, it’s still the right solution: in both cases, the problem is that your mail program is using obsolete outgoing mail settings. Using the current settings shown on that page avoids both problems.)